Second careers for race horses

WASHINGTON (WUSA9)-- When it comes to horse racing, most of us think of the Triple Crown, including the Preakness at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course. However, high stakes horse races take place year-round, and some well-known equestrians in Maryland are trying to give these thoroughbreds a second chance, off the track.

"They're amazing. They're awesome," said Pat Dale, who's taking some thoroughbreds from the starting gate to the show ring.

She added, "They have stamina, they have heart, they're intelligent, they give to you. And there's nothing that you can't teach these horses to do."

This horse, Wright Rendezvous, arrived just hours before we did. Straight from a West Virginia track.

Veteran rider Tara Zeigler said, "It's a little nerve-wracking because you're like, are they going to buck me off as soon as I get on?"

Remarkably, he took to the ring right away. Zeigler says thoroughbreds are intelligent and sensitive.

"If you show them each thing step by step, most of them really get it and like their new job. It's just rewarding," said Zeigler.

Dale echoed, "I just think that they are the most athletic, elegant, and amazing horse breed in the world."

Twenty-five to thirty racehorses come to Three Plain Bays (www.ThreePlainBays) farm every year, where they're assessed, retrained and given the chance at a new career.

"They can barrel race, they can trail ride," boasted Dale, like a proud parent. "I sold a horse that is now a civil war re-enactment horse. And he did that about three days after I sold him."

It's a side of the racehorse industry the public rarely sees.

"A lot of race horses have, let's face it, pretty short careers. Like any athlete in any sport, they're competing at a very high level. And you're going to be prone to having injuries," said Graham Motion of Herringswell Stables. He trained 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

"I never set out as a trainer expecting to win the Kentucky Derby. That would have always been a bonus. To have achieved it at a relatively early stage I guess of my career was extraordinary and I hope to get a chance to do it again," he said.

Another of his well-known horses Icabad Crane is enjoying a new career as an eventer—a sport in which he competes in several contests, usually cross-country, dressage and show jumping.

Motion said, "It is very rewarding to see the horses having other careers and being successful at it."

Back at Three Plain Bays, while Pat Dale helps give racehorses a new career, she insists, they're giving her something that's hard to describe.

Her eyes welled with tears. "It's like holding your child for the first time," she said. "And they give back to you every single day."

For more information on racehorses' second careers, go to:

Written by Andrea McCarren, WUSA9


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