The Disgusting Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

In a press release earlier this month, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) gushed over a risible $50,000 donation from The Stronach Group on Pegasus Day at Stronach-owned Gulfstream Park. Risible not only because the day featured two million-dollar-plus races, but, more important, because Stronach is a multi-billion-dollar corporation. $50,000 for aftercare. But back to the TAA and a post long overdue.

In its release, the TAA explained what they are and do: “The TAA accredits, inspects, and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retrain, retire, and rehome Thoroughbreds using industry-wide funding. Since 2012, the TAA has granted more than $28.1 million to accredited aftercare organizations and 15,500 Thoroughbreds have been retrained, rehomed, or retired by accredited organizations.”

So, 15,500 Thoroughbreds have been saved by the TAA in 10 years. For context, over that same period, 203,340 Thoroughbreds have been registered (to race) with The Jockey Club, racing’s official recordkeeper. That’s over 20,000 new Thoroughbreds coming into the system each year, all of whom – less the ones who will die at the track – will need “retraining,” “rehoming,” or “retirement” when the industry is done exploiting them. And the TAA boasts of a paltry 15,500 saved? As for the $28 million – again, spread over ten years – more context (from what I’ve previously written):

Regarding the sham of “aftercare”: An average 5-year career, 25-year lifespan, and annual cost-of-care of $5,000 – all conservative numbers – means that in order for the racing industry to guarantee a lifetime safe-landing for each and every member of this year’s “foal crop,” it would have to come up with some $2 billion. That’s 2 billion with a “b.” And again, that’s just for this year’s “crop.” The same would be needed next year, and the year after that, and so on. In short, the American horseracing industry is deliberately creating thousands of horses every year for which it has neither the desire nor the ability to care for post-exploitation. Hence, slaughter.

But it’s even worse. In order to be accredited by, and receive funding from, the TAA, rescues must abide by a “Code of Standards.” Under “Education,” the TAA says:

“How aftercare organizations educate the public, media, regulators, legislators, [et al.] about humane aftercare of Thoroughbreds greatly affects not only the aftercare community itself but the Thoroughbred racing industry as a whole. Whenever possible, accredited organizations should work cooperatively with the Thoroughbred racing community to share media resources and increase public awareness of Thoroughbred aftercare to uphold the image and integrity of the horseracing industry. Accredited organizations shall: Portray all media via press release, internet, articles, or interviews with a positive outlook on Thoroughbred aftercare and the racing industry. Each facility should have one spokesperson who communicates with media with specific talking points concerning the racing industry….”

“accredited organizations should work cooperatively with the racing community”

“uphold the image and integrity of the horseracing industry”

“portray all media…with a positive outlook on aftercare and the racing industry”

“one spokesperson…with specific talking points concerning the racing industry”

In short, we will give you money to save the horses that the racing industry has ground down and thrown away, but only if you sing the praises of – i.e., lie about – that very industry. It’s sick. It’s vile. It’s the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

One final thought on the rescues themselves: It is my long-held position that if you are in rescue, no matter the species, your ultimate goal should be, to go out of business. And the only way that can be achieved is through shuttering the industries that make you necessary. Have the courage of your convictions: Reject the TAA and their blood money; speak out, loudly and forcefully, against horseracing.

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  1. I founded a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit, specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of off-track Thoroughbreds about 15 years ago. We have always been, and still are, a boutique style rescue and very small.

    We were an inaugural member of the TAA, many years back. Knowing the industry, I was very skeptical, but we jumped through every hoop to become an Accredited Member. There were only about 12 members that inaugural year, throughout the entire United States.

    In my eyes, the veil was lifted immediately on their disguise…I could go on and on. The numbers, across the board, have never added up to make significant impact. I personally attended many events and met the “figure heads” (whomever they were at the time), who had no heart or sincere interest in aftercare…

    After a short time, I withdrew my membership in the TAA. Speaking to your point, I was not interested in receiving a paltry sum of money in exchange for giving up my freedom of speech.

    Thank you Patrick, for bringing this issue, as well as all the the other deplorable Thoroughbred issues, to light.

  2. The last I looked, every member of the TAA’s BOD is involved in the TB racing industry in some way, shape or form – they BENEFIT from its existence and most, GREATLY. Of course they want horseracing to continue and they can’t have the rescues they throw crumbs to revealing the truth!

    But just take a look at some of the TAA-accredited organizations’ websites – check out the horses racing has “donated” to them. “Companion only”. “Pasture ornament”. “Light trail only”. “Broodmare”. And don’t miss that these crippled horses are NOT aged…the majority have not yet reached an equine’s prime age.

    “Aftercare” is one of racing’s biggest lies. TRUE aftercare would be the industry that bred the horses and used the horses being responsible for the horses – THEIR horses – for life. Instead, they throw crumbs while claiming they care. But the public is catching on.

    • There must be NO more horses forcibly created. There is too massive a situation/PROBLEM already. If you love animals truly …then, there must be no more innocent horses being born. Just like shutdown ALL the puppy mills!

  3. Rich people pay six-digits and seven-digits for Thoroughbreds at auctions such as Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton and the Ocala Breeders Sales. How is anyone supposed to be impressed with a five-digit donation to an industry-led aftercare “alliance” that restricts the voices of the boots on the ground rescue people?
    Not all of the Thoroughbred foals that are registered with the Jockey Club will become racehorses and it’s very possible that many of the foals in this group of the population of horses will be exploited by killbuyers and meatpackers. It’s sickening! It’s corporate greed.
    Several years ago, I read an article about what horse breeders should do with the offspring of their breeding stallions in the event that these offspring don’t quite measure up to the characteristics of the breed standards and to therefore avoid the bad advertising that would follow if the bloodlines were known. Sell them as grade stock as opposed to registered. So, it is all about making the big bucks in stud fees and so on and so forth for people who are in it as a business.

    • That’s why these pure evil scumbags will have to face judgment at end of their pathetic lazy lives. They’ll be judged by a Higher Power. Greed is one of the original sins!

  4. Thank you for this post today. I believe what those in racing do to their Throwaway Thoroughbreds should be their biggest shame, but it isn’t. Instead, it’s just their worst-kept secret. So the industry, via the racing press, has been working diligently these last few years to showcase what they like to call “improvements” in aftercare. They highlight one or two former racehorses who defied the (longest!) odds by finding a second career/forever home/lifetime of care and expense, with no possibility of bringing in a dime for their new owners. Then, they laser-focus on these cases of Rescue-from-Racing, while ducking all questions about the OTHER ten-thousand or so TB victims of their greed game annually who DIDN’T fare so well in the Aftercare Lottery:
    “Look. See? We’re doing soooo much better nowadays with our “emphasis” on aftercare. If we keep this up, we might someday find homes for TWO percent of all the unwanted animals we vomit up and toss away each year. So, congratulate us!”

    • In my next life, I’m coming back as a shallow, non-feeling S.O.B. Do you know how easy my life would be …if I didn’t love animals so intensely,as I do. It’s so hard being a caring,sensitive person, because humans are assholes,and greedy towards animals, and downright evil. It’s a hard life loving animals …because people suck (most of them)! I would save EVERY animal, if I could!!!

      • All Baffert trained horses cannot collect points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby so that they have to be transferred to a different trainer in order to collect points. At least, there’s that.

  5. The TAA is a sham.
    There was a complaint filed with them concerning an OTTB adopted out by an organization that retrains former race horses, a rescue accredited by TAA.
    The horse presented a challenge for the rescue and was quickly given away to a so called trainer.
    The person who donated the horse to the organization along with $3,000 was assured it was the best possible situation for the horse.She was lied to over and over concerning the welfare of the horse following the “adoption”.
    Several red flags began to emerge and eventually she was able to contact the adopter and buy the horse back with the assistance of a friend. The rescue did not help in anyway.
    It was not a moment too soon! The horse had lost at least 200lbs, had extensive rain rot; was covered with several varieties of disease bearing ticks; had bilateral eye infections with a foreign body embedded in the left conjunctiva. The rescue was made aware of the horse’s condition but never responded.
    The result of the complaint filed with the TAA was useless.
    They didn’t seem to care the horse was thoroughly neglected and almost starved to death. They had pictures of the horse documenting her sorry state but never asked how she was doing
    They said they made “recommendations” to the rescue and the rescue submitted a “plan of action”.
    When asked, at least three times, what “recommendations” were made, the TAA did not reply.
    And when the TAA was asked why recommendations were made in place of requirements since they were the accrediting body and had the authority to make requirements, they ignored the question, once again.
    As I said, the TAA is a sham. Period!
    They continued their “approval” of the organization that failed the horse and lied about her progress.
    They are not serious about helping horses.

    • What happened to the horse? I have heard horror stories about “rescues” many times. Some may have been connected with TAA. The rescues are only as good as the people that operate them. The same with the business of racing itself, which is obviously bad for the horses.
      An eye infection can cause blindness and, in the case of a neighbor’s cat in 2008, DEATH. Except for the fact that I was able to pay for the veterinary care to have the INJURED eye surgically removed. Otherwise, the cat would have died a slow, agonizingly miserable death. The cat had stopped eating because of the injury to his eye. But, thankfully, his life was saved by the surgery.

  6. One of the many people who own a fraction of a horse said to me on FB “that’s what the rescues are for…” to answer what happens to them afterwards. Stupid? Ignorant? Blind? or Doesn’t give a S%*@T? Disgusting

    • What rescues(?) — WHEN there are not enough rescues to accommodate the horses that fall into the “Unwanted” category of horses…? Also, for the rescues that do exist, not all of them are run by reputable people. For the rescues that are reputable, they are limited in the number of Acres of real estate and they are also dependent upon kind-hearted as well as generous people to donate money for hay, veterinary care, farrier work and a number of other things that cost money associated with keeping horses and keeping them healthy.
      Many of the greedy, rich people in horseracing will dump a horse that has earned huge amounts of purse money and will absolutely REFUSE to donate any amount of money to the aftercare of a used up racehorse that can’t win races anymore and, therefore, becomes “Unwanted” by the greedy, rich people who once owned him or her.
      Being a fractional owner and having an attitude like that is really sickening. For the rich people to be such low-ball scumbags in their actions is sickening!!! There is no excuse for this callous indifference.

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