Not long ago the Thoroughbred was the breed of choice for American riders. Thoroughbreds such as Bally Cor, Jet Run, and Touch of Class enjoyed great success in the Olympic equestrian disciplines, but today many riders favor other breeds. With proper training and exposure, Thoroughbreds can be at the top of the show world again. Success with these horses will have a trickle-down effect. Owners and adopters will seek trainers who have experience with retired Thoroughbred racehorses and and this will increase their value. There will be more success stories and fewer failures. Linda Zang states, “There have been many success stories with Thoroughbreds in the three Olympic Equestrian disciplines, including winning medals. “
Presenting properly trained Thoroughbreds to top trainers is an important element of what we do. The more other riders and trainers hear icons such as George Morris, Joe Fargis, Jim Wofford, and Linda Zang extol the virtues of Thoroughbreds, the more demand and appreciation there will be for retired racehorses. Ultimately, we will see Thoroughbreds competing and winning at the highest levels, in all disciplines. Then many more will find homes after racing.
Currently, keeping a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and putting the correct training on him will cost more than the seller can recoup. The same amount of training on a Warmblood will pay about twice what a comparable Thoroughbred will bring. This causes people to get horses off the track and move them on quickly for a few thousand dollars where they will likely be resold again. This does not provide the training the horse needs to be desirable to upper level trainers. We can address this by selecting excellent Thoroughbred candidates and giving them the proper training they need. This will make them attractive to top riders. This will increase their value substantially.
Today retired racers are regaining their popularity as riding horses. Racetracks are creating programs to help find them homes once their race careers end. Moving horses off of the track quickly has become less of a crisis. There are consequences of moving the great number of horses into the hands of the public. More than a few horses end up with people who are not qualified to handle and retrain a horse directly off the track. In Dr. Andrew Mclean’s book, “The Truth About Horses” he references a study by researchers Odberg and Bouisseau. They found that of 3,000 non-racing horses sent to the slaughterhouse in France between the ages of two and seven years, 66.4% were condemned for “inappropriate behavior.” The fact that these statistics come from countries with well-established equestrian traditions gives no grounds for believing that the figures would be much different elsewhere.
In addition to Thoroughbreds with training issues, there are horses who leave racing with physical problems. These can be successfully addressed through surgery or rest and rehabilitation. Horses like these are difficult to place due to the cost of rehabilitation and there are few who have the skills needed to correctly rest and rehabilitate these horses. In many cases, proper rest and rehab results in an excellent prognosis and a sound horse ready for a qualified adoption.
TPR has these specialized skills to address these high-risk categories of horses. Leighton Farm, the home base of TPR was designed for active racehorses to rest and rehabilitate. In addition, Kimberly Godwin Clark, principal equestrian at Leighton Farm is a professional exercise rider, owner and trainer with over 25 years’ experience. In her 25 years working at the track as a rider, trainer and racehorse owner, Godwin Clark took many horses to the farm for rest and rehabilitation giving her a quarter century of experience in properly handling horses. She now works with some of the top show trainers in the United States in order to develop their skills to produce correctly retrained and rideable retired racehorses.
Kimberly Godwin Clark, the founder of TPR has written a book, “New Track, New Life: A Guide to Understanding and Re-Training Your Off-Track Thoroughbred,” to promote correct training methods. It offers insight into the life the horse had as a racehorse and offers a better understanding of ex-racers. In 2016 it was published on Kindle and Amazon in both print and electronic formats. Clark is currently working on a second book that focuses on training horses and addressing problems.
Additionally, Godwin Clark has launched a blog that focuses on understanding and retraining these wonderful horses.
We also work directly with volunteers to help them develop the skills to work with retired racehorses.
Kimberly, a graduate of Villa Julie College, was involved in Thoroughbred racing for over 25 years as a licensed as a trainer, owner and exercise rider. She lives with her husband, William Clark on Leighton Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland where many Thoroughbreds are retrained and transitioned to meaningful lives outside of racing. Clark has been helping fellow trainers and owners place retiring/retired racehorses for the many years, but began to develop the TPR program in November 2007. This placement program created by horsemen for horsemen has been extremely successful.
Kimberly Godwin Clark has earned both her USDF Bronze and Silver Medals on a Thoroughbred she trained from green broke to Prix St. George. She currently competes Thoroughbreds at the National Level in both Dressage and Show Jumping. Her work with retired racers has produced successful horses like 4* Eventer Houdini (registered name, Rocky Times) and Breeder’s Bridge to High Performance Winner Constant Star. They are among many other prospects that have gone on to successful careers in Eventing, Dressage, Hunters, Jumpers and Pleasure horses. Kimberly has also written and published the book “New Track, New Life” which describes in detail the life of the horse at the track and then how to successfully transition them to new disciplines.
For 25 years Clark galloped, trained and owned Thoroughbred racehorses at Maryland Tracks. She learned to exercise racehorses under the tutelage of the great steeplechase rider John Bosley and then went on to the track with Ann Merryman a second generation horseman. She began riding at Old Hilltop, Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland, and later rode in Florida for several winters before settling at Leighton Farm to begin her new venture in retraining retiring racehorses for new careers in 2007. You can reach Kimberly directly at 410-802-8425.
Christina is a long time racing fan.
Dr. Coyle has been a Thoroughbred racing fan as well as rider and trainer for a life time. She began her love affair with Thoroughbred racing as a child and has carried it with her into adulthood. If a television is on in her home, it’s most likely turned to racing! Kathleen has two retired racers, one rescued from a kill pen and the other an earner of $250,000. She competes dressage, three day eventing and show jumping.
bio coming soon…..
A Realtor since 1971 which aided the ability to be a Breeder of Thoroughbred horses since the early 80’s at my farm Liberty Hill. Breeding eventually led to racing which is how I met Kim. Kim rode in the morning for my husband who trained our horses. When I lost my husband, Kim became the trainer. We did well looking after our charges. I have 8 relatives of horses who raced with Kim as trainer that still live on my farm.
Robin Donovick, MSM, CEBS, is the Executive Director of the International Health Fund (IHF) for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC). Robin has a BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University and a Masters of Management from Boston University. The IHF covers members in both U.S. and Canada. Robin has successfully grown the covered lives of the IHF by 236% since 2012 by successfully merging five local plans into the IHF, increasing assets available for benefits by 33% to $24.6M in the US plan. In 2015, the IHF introduced a Private Insurance Exchange which allows members to choose different plans within a package of benefits collectively bargained by the Local Union Officers or Business Agents. Prior to joining IHF, Robin was the Chief Operating Officer for the Independent Colleges and Universities Benefits Association, a multiple employer welfare arrangement in Orlando FL. During her time at ICUBA, Robin was able to successfully market the fund, growing the plan from 11 to 21 member institutions, significantly increasing the annual premium paid to the plan.
Laura M. Van Waardenburg is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker that maintains a private practice, treating trauma victims and also works as a Senior Clinician with Rappahannock/Rappidan Community Services Board in Culpeper, Virginia. From 2015-2019, Laura served as a Sonoma County Commissioner on the Status of Women, a United Nations principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women. Laura was an active mentor in her community for 17 years with the Stand by Me Sonoma County Mentoring Alliance, supporting the future of children in her community.
Laura has been an avid equestrian since childhood, growing up on Long Island, NY where she competed her horses in Equitation, Hunters and Jumpers. She has owned, trained and competed off the track thoroughbreds when living in Northern Virginia, Northern California, Sao Paolo, Brazil on Argentinian thoroughbreds at the “Clube Hipico de Santa Amaro” and in Sydney, Australia at her farm breeding and training Australian Thoroughbreds at “The Old Manse.” Laura is now settled in at her place “Swallowtail Farm” in Barboursville, Virginia and has opened her farm to OTTBs for rehab, restart, rehome and fostering. Laura is currently training her OTTB “Moby” in lower level dressage and trail. Moreover, “Moby” has become an integral part of her psychotherapy practice, assisting her in helping people heal from traumatic experiences with the use of an innovative treatment blend of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).
Since opening his racing stable in 2004, Al Gold has owned Grade 2 winner Chace City, Grade 3 winner Little Miss Holly, and multiple stakes winner Rule by Night. He is most proud of breeding and raising stakes winner Black Mission Fig. Outside of racing, he has operated a real estate management business for 40 years. Al supports TPR and responsible racehorse retirement because “there is simply no question it’s the right thing to do.”
Tad earned his status as Gold Medal Olympian at the age of 21 on a Thoroughbred mare. He has gone on to become a developer of ground breaking saddle technology with his company Tad Coffin Performance Saddles. His efforts to improve the form and function of the saddle have been responsible for saving the lives and the welfare of countless horses that suffer from the effects of outdated saddles. Tad is a constant source of information on how to help our horses to perform better. He has been instrumental in helping us with our mission to address horses with training issues – many caused by the lack of improvement in conventional saddle technology.
Milton Higgins has maintained an active breeding and racing partnership with Tom Bowman, DVM, and his family since 1981. The Bowman/Higgins partnership bred the dam and grand dam of 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, Grade 3 winner and Kentucky Derby starter Point Determined, and the highest priced horse sold at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling Sale. As sole owner or in partnership, Milton has raced Grade 2 winner Who Wouldn’t, Grade 3 winners Merengue and G.O’Keefe, and multiple stakes winner and Maryland-bred champion Richetta.
Milton was treasurer of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association from 2008-2013 and has also served on the board of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. He has an MBA from Harvard. He supports responsible racehorse retirement because “when we breed racehorses, they trust us to look after and care for them. In return, they always give us their best efforts to perform to the highest level of their abilities. Being no longer able to perform in a useful manner on the track is not an excuse for us to break that trust and abdicate our part of the compact.”
Edgar Prado was inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in 2008. He won the Kentucky Derby on Barbaro and the Eclipse Award as North America’s leading jockey in 2006. He also won the Mike Venezia Award that year. The Venezia Award honors jockeys who exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship. In 2003, Prado was selected by his fellow riders to receive the George Woolf Memorial Award, which honors a jockey whose career and personal character earn esteem for the individual and Thoroughbred racing.
Edgar has won nearly 7,000 races, including the Belmont Stakes (twice) and five Breeders’ Cup races. His first Grade I win came in 1991 on Leariva in the Budweiser International at Laurel Park in Maryland. He was the leading rider in Maryland from 1991 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1997, and led the nation in victories from 1997 to 1999. With John Feinstein, he is the author of My Guy Barbaro, A Jockey’s Journey Through Love, Triumph and Heartbreak.