Equestrian Event Gives Retired Thoroughbreds A New Career

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Career makeover. Dozens of horses at Pimlico Race Course go from starting gate to in-gate.

Gigi Barnett reports an equestrian event this weekend highlights the second careers of retired thoroughbreds.

For some high-energy, fast-paced thoroughbreds, racing on the track at Pimlico marks the pinnacle of their careers. But this weekend, part of the Pimlico course will focus on career makeovers for retired race horses.

“Off the track, the thoroughbred is going through a renaissance right now,” said Kirsten Lagerquist, Retired Racehorse Project.

The Retired Racehorse Project says more and more thoroughbred owners are putting their retired racehorses in dressage events, show jumping and barrel racing tournaments, making an easy transition to a second career.

This weekend’s Thoroughbred Makeover event at Pimlico has a slew of competitions and demonstrations highlighting what former racehorses can do.

“These horses come off of the track and they have the most fantastic work ethic. They want to work,” said Lagerquist. “They can do any number of horse sports that you want them to do, and they can do it with any kind of rider.”

“They’re the most athletic horses in the world. They’re by far the smartest horses I’ve ever been around,” said Dale Simanton, Horse Creek Thoroughbreds owner.

Simanton’s 25 thoroughbreds do ranch work on his farm in South Dakota. Nine-year-old Rikim is his prize possession. Simanton bought him back in April, mere hours after Rikim ran a race and lost.

“I kind of fell in love with him the minute he got off the van,” Simanton said.

He says the myth of the high-strung thoroughbred only good for racing is changing.

“He’s more agitated right now today than he has been since I met him,” he said.

At least 50 horses participated in this weekend’s event, showing off their new career skills. But they’re not the only ones learning. Their owners can attend workshops that help them determine which career path their horses can go into.

“A lot of people are really starting to come around and realize that these horses can be top competitors and some of the greatest pets that you’ll have as well,” Lagerquist said.

Turning retirement into a day at the races.

The Retired Racehorse Project, which hosted the event, also has an online competition called America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred. Virtual voters will choose one of 10 horses to receive a $10,000 prize.

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