Typically, a Thoroughbred trainer contacts ReRun, Inc. about donating a horse. After the donation application is approved, the horse is shipped from the track or training facility and the trainer/owner records a tax deduction. The horse arrives on a private facility, contracted by ReRun, Inc., is unloaded from the trailer and turned-out into a small paddock. The farm manager reviews the horse’s medical and racing history, or any other documents provided by the former trainer. The horse is observed in the paddock, the manager assessing the movements and temperament of the horse for potential adopters. Extensive photographs are taken so the horse can be posted to ReRun, Inc.’s website (http://www.rerun.org) for potential adopters to see. A medical and nutritional analysis is also made at this time and any veterinary, farrier, dental or nutritional services are obtained. Since most ReRun, Inc. horses ship directly from the track or training facility, vaccinations and dewormers are normally up-to-date. If possible, the horse is gradually given full turn-out, although a stall is always reserved for feeding, grooming or recuperating from injury. Neagle explained that her horses receive full-turn out as soon as possible because time in the pasture is often the best rehabilitation therapy for stressed Thoroughbreds. Her horses each have stalls though, where they receive a half a bale of alfalfa/grass hay mix each day along with concentrated feed appropriate for each horse (Neagle, 2004).
Sound horses are usually adopted within three to four months. The adoption fee is currently at a $950 baseline, although the adoption price fluctuates. It increases for exceptionally sound horses, or in instances where expensive vet bills have accrued, and decreases for horses with injuries or stable vices or when the horse has been at the facility for longer than four months. Fees have been as low as $1 during a spring campaign to get the horses moving again after the slow winter months. A horse currently up for adoption, That’s Latin, is priced at $1700. According to Neagle, the average adoption price hovers around $500.
Since 1996, ReRun, Inc. has made several changes to its adoption program. The most significant change is the screening process adopters go through. If a potential adopter learns about a horse, through the website or other means, they must first submit an adoption application (Appendix C), a $10.00 application fee and photos of the facility where the adopted horse will be kept. References and veterinary statements are also required to vouch for the horsemanship of the potential adopter. After the application has been submitted and approved, the potential adopter will be contacted to arrange a meeting to visit with the horse of his or her choice. A vet check, at the potential adopter’s expense, is recommended for all horses, but mandatory for horses that will be jumping or doing very strenuous activity in their second career. If the potential adopter decides to adopt a horse and is approved by ReRun, Inc., they will sign a two-year adoption contract. In the past, ownership of the horse actually changed hands at the signing of the adoption agreement.
A few adoption problems have arisen since 1996, requiring ReRun, Inc. to take action to reclaim the horse. In the eyes of a court judge, ReRun, Inc. has little authority to reclaim a horse if they no longer have ownership rights. Therefore, the two-year adoption contract allows only temporary custody for two years. Vet checks must be submitted every six months, and visits by ReRun, Inc. staff are permitted. If an anonymous complaint is received about the way an adopter is caring for a ReRun, Inc. horse, ReRun, Inc. hires its own American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) veterinarian to investigate the complaint. If, after two years, the horse has received adequate care and is in good health, ownership is turned-over to the adopter. The Jockey Club papers (documents that prove the identity of each racing Thoroughbred) are then nullified (a note is made on the registration papers on file with the Jockey Club) so that the adopted horse will never legally be allowed to race again. In the case of mares, nullifying the papers also prohibits any foals of that mare from being able to register with the Jockey Club in the future.
While the requirements for adoption may seem too stringent to attract adopters, it is important to realize that the adopters receive not only a horse from ReRun, Inc., but also a few intangible assets. Adopters are welcomed into a community of adopters, receiving a system of support to guide them through the process of retraining an ex-racehorse. Adopters also receive the satisfaction from supporting a good cause that serves to improve the entire racing industry. The following clearly states the intangible assets everyone in the Thoroughbred industry, including adopters, receives by supporting ReRun, Inc.
“The people behind ReRun feel that this is a project that the entire Thoroughbred industry–race tracks, farms, owners, trainers and jockeys–should support. It benefits everyone in one way or another. It promotes humane treatment of our athletes, giving owners an alternative to running sore horses because they don’t know what else to do with them. That in turn promotes safety for our riders and a better image for our sport, not to mention a brighter future for the horses themselves.”