Old Friends talks thoroughbred aftercare for race horses

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) —  Often times race horses are in the spotlight only when they’re competing, whether its to qualify for the Kentucky Derby or fighting for the triple crown, some are two minutes some are just under two minutes.
After their brief time under the lights, these horses then go on to their lives beyond the racetrack.

“If people, more people in racing could sell the idea that look, whether this horse wins or loses, you’re gonna be really lucky because you’re gonna be able to spend time with this animal and, and that’s a real blessing for sure,” said Michael Blowen the founder of Old Friends farm.

For Blowen easing thoroughbreds into their new lives after their racing careers are over is a privilege he doesn’t take lightly.

“20 or 30 years ago, after care wasn’t much of a topic in horse racing. So they’ve really evolved a long way and there’s really a big movement now for aftercare. There are a lot of groups, the Thoroughbred Charities of America, there are a lot of really good groups that retrain horses when their days are over, that never existed before,” he adds.

Blowen says a smooth transition into aftercare should become a top priority in the horse racing industry.

“If people really, while they were racing took a real keen interest in saying, you know, this horse is going to last a lot longer than longer than two minutes
when they’re three years old and running at Churchill Downs in a great race like the Kentucky Derby. Well, think of it in the longer run and make decisions based on the long term interest of the horse,” he also said.

As far as caring for horses while they’re still racing, Blowen says statistics show racing fatalities are down despite the recent horse deaths at Churchill Downs, and while it’s a good sign, there’s still more work that needs to be done.

“Horses have preexisting conditions. So if, if you’re in really good shape and you run and, and you take a bad step, it’s not gonna really hurt you that bad. But if you start racing and you got a sprained ankle or you have a problem and you step in that same hole, it’s gonna be bad. And for that, and that’s the same thing with the horses. So we just have to do a much better job of making sure that these horses are healthy and prepared enough to race,” says Blowen.

Also saying that everything they do in the industry needs to be for the well-being of the animal.

“But we can do a lot better of how we handle these horses. And if we start thinking about the horse first and everything else secondary, it might be easier to break down some of these seemingly impossible barriers,” he also says.

Old Friends is located in Georgetown, for more information, click here.

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