Racing horses can be an exciting sporting venture, particularly at the highest echelon.  In the past several years, the industry has endeavored mightily to address the unglamorous issue of aftercare for off-the-track horses, with multiple initiatives, such as The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program and establishment of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

Countless people with big hearts and dedication work behind the scenes to save and retrain former racehorses that might otherwise end up badly neglected or in a slaughterhouse.  Following are four exemplars.

Edward (Ned) and Cornelia (Nina) Bonnie own 540-acre Stonelea Farm in Prospect, Kentucky and have been active participants in equine sports like steeplechase racing, hunting/jumping competition, and foxhunting for more than 60 years.  An article titled “In High Regard” in the September 2017 Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine said about Stonelea: “Nestled against Harrods Creek, the rolling property is an off-track Thoroughbred haven…”

The Bonnies have given numerous retired racehorses a home for life and have also demonstrated the suitability of former racehorses to sport-horse second careers or just as riding horses.  The Off-Track Thoroughbred article reports that over 20 Thoroughbreds are domiciled at Stonelea Farm, consisting of a mix of retirees, young horses bred by the Bonnies, and riding horses.  Even in their golden years, the Bonnies are still providing racehorses with a safe harbor to live out their days.

Unlike the Bonnies, the husband and wife team of Dallas and Donna Keen earn their livelihood from training racehorses.  Both are accomplished trainers with some big wins.

Apart from conditioning horses at multiple racetracks, the couple in 2008 founded and continue to operate the Remember Me Rescue in Burleson, Texas.  The organization’s website states its mission:

“The Remember Me Retired Racehorse Program was formed…to assist retired and injured racehorses after their careers at the track are over.  We accept, rehabilitate, and retrain ex-racehorses with the hopes of finding them new homes with responsible owners.”

The Keens not only “accept” former racehorses, but are proactive in going to auctions and rescuing animals from slaughter destinations.   Here is a couple who engage in the full-time–and then some–business of training racehorses across several states, yet who make the time to rescue horses at auction and devote considerable effort to operating Remember Me Rescue.  That’s “giving back” at its finest.

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