Retired Racehorse Training Project to Debut in Maryland

Both the Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Horse Breeders Association are supporting a new project to train Maryland riders to work with ex-racehorses.

Maryland trainer Steuart Pittman, Jr. of Dodon Farm in Davidsonville is kicking off the Retired Racehorse Training Project on October 4, with a ticketed event at Maryland Therapeutic Riding in Crownsville.

"Retired racehorses are a forgotten treasure in the horse world," said Pittman. "Twenty years ago recreational riders thought nothing of hopping on these animals and heading off to their local horse show. Today we have misdirected our obsession with safety against these horses simply because they are enthusiastic about their work. When trained and ridden well these are some of the most responsive and safest horses anywhere."

The Retired Racehorse Training Symposium will show ex-racers at all stages of their post-race training with riders at various skill levels. The audience will learn what it takes to ride and train these horses effectively, starting with the balance and tact of a jockey.

"The only way to drastically increase the market for horses off the track is to demystify the race horse," Pittman said. "They are for the most part happy animals who have been treated like kings by expert horsemen at the track. They come away ready to learn and eager to please. It's an issue that horse folks are passionate about, both inside and outside the racing industry. It's an area where a little education can go a long way toward solving a big problem if we can reach enough people."

Ticket sales for the October 4 symposium have exceeded expectations. Plans are being made for a national tour of these events in 2010, and for a series of sessions in January at the Maryland Horse World Expo. Tickets and additional information are available online.  

The symposium will take place in the indoor arena at Maryland Therapeutic Riding in Crownsville, Md. from 1-5 p.m. with an intermission. Tickets will cost $25, with $5 of that going directly to Maryland Therapeutic Riding.

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