Organization Helps Retired Race Horses Find Homes - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Organization Helps Retired Race Horses Find Homes

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When an athlete retires, that doesn't mean he or she stops working. And that's true too for former race horses. And thanks to a veterinarian, some thoroughbred horses are getting a second chance at a new job.

From the time a thoroughbred race horse is born, it knows nothing but the track.

"Once their owners are done with them and their career in racing is done, they really have no place to go," says horse veterinarian Dr. Richard Bowman.

So in 1993, Dr. Bowman started taking retired horses from Canterbury Park racetrack in Minnesota to his ranch in Rhame.

"Here they're turned out into large pastures, and they kind of become a horse again," says Bowman.

At first, Dr. Bowman was taking home a few horses each year. Now, he's up to thirty or forty.

"It's like a potato chip, you can't just have one."

And once they're in Rhame, he retrains them for new jobs.

"We've got some in the police force down in Minnesota, some in the rodeo arena, we have people that just like to trail ride them, people that are using them on ranches to rope cattle. They fit just any place where you can fit a horse."

Bowman ran the operation by himself for almost two decades, paying for the care and upkeep of every horse. But last year, a group of horse lovers in Dickinson joined the cause.

"We went out to the ranch, we took pictures of every horse out there, and we got all the information on them as far as their 'horsonalties' and that kind of thing," says President Tess Ehli, Second Chance Thoroughbred Adoption.

They then put that info on a Facebook page to get the word out. Now, they pre-screen all potential adopters to make sure their abilities and facilities are up to speed.

"I don't recommend these horses for beginners for obvious reasons. They've been raced and so if you miscue them, they will get up and go and so we want somebody that will understand how to stop a horse," says Tess.

People from all over the country adopt Dr. Bowman's horses but some of them are right here in North Dakota, like at the Prairie Rose Training Facility in Bismarck.

"One of the things that's just really important about it is that these horses have most of their working lives left. I mean, these are horses that most of the time are the same age as we would be typically starting a horse," says trainer Mimi Stanley, Prairie Rose Training Center.

Stanley and her mom run the training center and have adopted four thoroughbreds from Bowman.

"By the time they come to their next home, they really are in an excellent place to start with their training," says owner Karla Stanley.

But this is the first year Prairie Rose has partnered with Second Chance to host an Open Barn event, showcasing some of the thoroughbreds up for adoption.

"This is Dallas. He was adopted last weekend," says Mimi.

"The part that we could do is we could show what these horses are capable of doing when they've had some training," says Karla.

And those involved say with a little training, these horses can do just about anything.

"I've just had a new appreciation for this breed. I didn't know that they were quite this calm and fun to have around, you know they are just a hoot for sure," says Tess.

People from all over the country have adopted these horses, and the cost is $300. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/secondchancethoroughbredadoption.

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