Thoroughbred aftercare group aims to retrain broodmares

The new "Broodmare Bunch" program from FFI will assist potentially at-risk broodmares in finding homes after their breeding careers have ended.
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A US thoroughbred aftercare group has launched a new pilot program to retrain and rehome broodmares pensioned from breeding.

Indiana-based Friends of Ferdinand, Inc. (FFI) says the new “Broodmare Bunch” program will assist potentially at-risk broodmares in finding homes after their breeding careers have ended.

Friends of Ferdinand is named after 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, who was sold overseas after a lackluster stud career and then sold for slaughter. Ferdinand’s story spurred a movement to prevent other thoroughbreds ending up in the slaughter pipeline.

Broodmare Bunch will be open to Thoroughbred mares who have been pensioned from broodmare duty as part of horse racing’s breeding industry.

“While there are many organizations that assist horses fresh from the racetrack, there are very few that have a program dedicated to the broodmares. This is an unmet need,” says FFI President Sara Busbice.

“Anything from fertility issues, difficulty foaling, lack of successful racing offspring, or downsizing a herd can cause a broodmare to be removed from a breeding farm, often at a young enough age that she could go on to have a terrific ‘third’ career after her jobs on the racetrack and as a mother are over.”

Trainer Lori Miller, who runs Greenstone Stables where many of FFI’s horses live during their retraining, said the new program would be fulfilling an industry need. “Diversifying our herd will give us the ability to have more horses available for different levels of potential adopters. We are looking forward to expanding our existing program by bringing these new horses into our barn,” Miller says.

FFI’s Broodmare Bunch is launching this month, and individuals or farms interested in submitting a broodmare for consideration into the program can do so by filling out the “Donate a Horse” form on the Friends of Ferdinand website. A select number of broodmares will be accepted into the pilot program, with preference given to horses with connections to racing or breeding in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

FFI is the only Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited program in Indiana, and has TAA-accredited farms around Indiana and Ohio as rehabilitation and retraining facilities for Off-Track Thoroughbreds. These will also be available for mares that are part of the Broodmare Bunch.

The Broodmare Bunch is funded in part by groups and individuals donating to FFI. One of the first, and largest, benefactors of the Broodmare Bunch is the Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance, a collaboration of breeders, owners, trainers, and horse-racing enthusiasts dedicated to the continued success of Thoroughbred breeding and racing in the state of Indiana. Its donation of $5000, raised from its first stallion service auction in December, is helping to launch the program.

“As passionate breeders in Indiana, we know how important it is to not only find second careers for our racehorses, but also for our broodmares,” says Christine Cagle, owner of Springcliff Farm and an ITA board member. “The ITA is not only dedicated to the promotion of horseracing in Indiana, but also to the transition of second, or third, careers for our Thoroughbreds. This partnership was a no-brainer.”

Horses in the Broodmare Bunch program will eventually be listed for adoption by FFI.

» More information:  Donations to the program can be made here

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