Pandemic takes toll on rescued racehorses as horse sanctuary reopens

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A Standardbred race horse after rehabilitation.PHOTO COURTESY OF STANDARDBRED RETIREMENT FOUNDATION
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A horse prior to rehabilitation.
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A horse prior to rehabilitation.
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A Standardbred race horse after rehabilitation.PHOTO COURTESY OF STANDARDBRED RETIREMENT FOUNDATION
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A horse prior to rehabilitation.
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A horse prior to rehabilitation.
CREAM RIDGE – The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) has been a safe haven for retired racehorses for 31 years. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of all its fundraisers, along with the closure of its farm sanctuary to adopters.
Now open to potential adopters, donations are still desperately needed to feed and care for 343 horses living in Cream Ridge. Adopters are also needed so rescued horses have permanent places to live out their lives.
“This is still an emergency situation for us,” Judith Bokman, founder and executive director of the national organization, said in a prepared statement. “The COVID-19 crisis hit in March, and we believed we would have relief from the pandemic by now. Sadly, that is not the case. Our fundraisers remain canceled and it costs approximately $4,000 a day just feed all of our horses.”
SRF has helped, mostly through rescuing, more than 4,000 racehorses from potential slaughter. After rehabilitation, the trotters and pacers are placed in homes for life. Many are still young horses that are simply no longer competitive on the track. Some are placed with police units in New York City, Newark, Philadelphia and Texas Sheriff Departments; others are in therapy programs; and most are adopted pleasure mounts, according to the statement.
“We’ve been an extremely productive organization for many years, but COVID-19 has been devastating,” Bokman said in the statement. “SRF does not receive industry or government grants and we rely greatly on individual donations from people who care about this beautiful and majestic horses.”
When injured or no longer competitive, nearly all Standardbred racehorses are sold off the track to dealers in rural communities. They are then resold, either for the price of meat in Canada or Mexico; or as work horses to plow fields, haul heavy logs, clear land and provide street transportation. When in their teens, these horses are resold at livestock auctions for meat, and replaced by younger ones, according to the statement.
SRF is headquartered in Cream Ridge, but the organization provides care for rescued horses in boarding facilities across the United States, including many in the Tri-State Area.
To make a tax-deductible donation, to adopt or to foster, visit www.adoptahorse.org; mail a check to Standardbred Retirement Foundation, P.O. Box 312, Millstone Township 08535; or call 609-738-3255.
Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) provides humane care and services for horses in need of lifetime homes, and in crises, through rehabilitation, training, adoption, lifelong follow up or lifetime sanctuary, and offers therapeutic equine opportunities for children and adults. For more information, visit: www.adoptahorse.org, or call 609-738-3255.