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New Jersey-based Standardbred Retirement Foundation finds homes for hundreds of discarded and sometimes abused standardbred horses once they are past their racing days.
On Saturday, the foundation held their annual event to raise awareness about the plight of these horses.
The Holiday at the Farm celebration featured a horse parade, mounted police demonstrations, a gift auction, line dancing, special events for kids, and a tour of the Walnridge Farm in Cream Ridge.
The Standardbred Retirement Foundation’s Holiday at the Farm event. (David Matthau/WHYY)
Twenty-four-year-old Alex Ott of Medford, N.J., came to the event because she’s thinking about getting a standardbred horse for herself, and her mother.
“We’re checking this out so we can all ride together,” she said.
“Most of the horses I’ve met are like big dogs. From what I’ve read and seen today, standardbreds seem like a very calm and versatile breed.”
Nine-year-old Tess, who came to the event with her aunt, said she loves horses.
“They’re friendly and they’re very intelligent, they’re sweet because they have a sense of humor,” she said.
Seven-year-old Lainey and her 8-year-old cousin Tess enjoyed the horses and the ice cream. (David Matthau/WHYY)
Foundation Executive Director Judy Bokman, a self-described animal lover, created the foundation 34 years ago.
“Sometimes people are not comfortable applying to adopt a horse, and they don’t know much about how we do. They like to see it for themselves,” Bokman said.
Bokman said many standardbred horses that aren’t fast enough to race are sent to slaughter or sold off as work horses, even if they are elderly or injured and in bad shape.
She said when standardbred horses first arrive at the foundation farm, many of them are given time off to heal and recover. Depending on the condition of the horse, that can take a few days or even a few months.
“Most of them are sore when they’re done racing, and then we work with them to become riding horses,” she said.
“Sometimes if they’ve been working in rural areas, plowing fields or working in other ways, they are sore and underweight and need time to recover,” she said.