Thursday, May 15, 2008

CANTER: hope for the racing industry

The 2008 Kentucky Derby was not a proud moment -- for the racing industry, for the media that covered it, or for PETA. The weekend compelled me to go to the CANTER site to make a donation. And for the thousandth time I wish I had a farm where I could take in some old ex-racers who deserve a good home.

The Pennsylvania CANTER horse on the left is aptly named "Pushed." The story of the 16.2 hand, 8 year old TB:

Pushed is a hard working soul who is in need of a new home and a much earned retirement. He finished in the top three in almost two thirds of his races and earned just under $400k. He's a very classy gentleman with awesome good looks and the best of homes is a top priority for him according to his trainer. His legs look great with no injuries, but he's got stringhalt and walks with a typical stringhalt gait. We were told the faster the gait, it goes away - thus his ability to race. And do well at it!

This writeup is heart-breaking. If any horse deserves a comfortable retirement, it would be this one. Trying to get a grasp on what the possible fate of this horse might be, I did some additional reading on CANTER. Well, I learned something new. And it's good news.

CANTER: Founded by racehorse owners
The Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) was conceived, developed and implemented by the Michigan racing industry -- owners that are concerned about what happens to their animals after their racing career. CANTER provides retiring thoroughbred racehorses with opportunities for new careers.

Joanne Normile, who founded the Michigan CANTER organization in 1997, worked to create partnersnips between members of the racing industry and other equine enthusiasts/citizens/volunteers concerned for the welfare of ex-racehorses. CANTER buys some horses from their track owners, and some are donated by the owners. CANTER's Web site lists horses available through CANTER for adoption, and there are separate listings for trainers to sell their own stock. CANTER has established adoption procedures which protect the horse from an unsuitable home, and CANTER offers a 30 day trial period for horse and owner. Trainer-listed horses come with no such guarantees.

Committed volunteers do a tremendous amount of work -- escorting potential buyers at the track, taking pictures of horses available through CANTER, etc. Since it was founded in and since then affiliate programs have begun in other states. CANTER works with concerned owners to find their horses suitable homes.

CANTER Cuties!
This little horse on the right looks like a nice riding prospect. CANTER has many horses that need some extra care or treatment, but many of them are sound and ready for a competitive athletic career. On the COTH bulletin board, the nice prospects are called CANTER cuties.

And if i ever get my farmette, Harv will have a horse like Pushed to hang out with in his retirement.


  1. Love your blog! The director of CANTER Midatlantic wanted to show how these horses go from racing to showing. There are a few of us writing blogs. I have had seven of the CANTER MA horses come to me for retraining where they get at least two months of basic training where they learn to w/t/c, jump small courses, trail rides and go out and about to some local shows. It allows CANTER MA to market the CANTER owned horses to the show world and promote the organization. We have had some lovely horses that are now out there competing successfully.
    Here are the blogs if you wanted to take a look.

    There are some great trainers out there who really care about finding homes for the horses when they are done racing.


  2. I'm very glad you posted this! I'd be honored to feature a CANTER success story. Will check out these sites for sure!

  3. This sounds like a good organization I will check it out. At least there is some hope for race track retirees. You think the owners might consider doing even more to help the horses that won them a lot of money though. At least pay for their medical and boarding expenses until a good home could be found for them. But it all comes down to money and caring,I guess.

  4. CANTER is a fantastic organization. Great post Stacey!
    (I wanted to bring Pusher home

  5. CANTER is a wonderful organization -- it is entirely run by volunteers so all money donated goes directly to help the horses. I've done some pro bono PR work for CANTER New England and also adopted a horse from them three years ago. Freedom on the Wind was one one of the lucky ones. His owners donated him to CANTER when his racing career was over so that he could thrive in a new career. He's a wonderful athlete and a lot of fun to ride. He's already won several hunter paces and is destined for the hunt field. Of course, he still needs to be convinced that finishing first is not the goal!


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