Six new faces named Burt's Nicky, Mr. Max, Queen Maggie, Southern Love, Creek Code and If Not Me Who arrived at the Putnamville Correctional Facility recently for the facility's new Thorough-bred Horse Retirement Program (THR).
These horses are the first of 50 which will be part of the new vocational program at the prison. The program provides a humane, viable rescue program which includes permanent retirement and private adoption for thoroughbreds at the end of their racing careers, as well as a vocational training program for the prison population.
With this program the horses get a second chance at life and the inmates are given an opportunity to help.
The THR program was created by the Kentucky-based Thoroughbred Horse Foundation. It is the first of its kind in Indiana and the first partnership with a correctional institute. In exchange for land use, labor and certain materials at the sites, this program allows THR to design, staff and maintain a vocational program in equine care and management for offenders at Putnamville.
"Not only will adoption be an alternate for the re-trained horses, but, the program will also facilitate a vocational training program for the offender population," states Commissioner J. David Donahue. "Through the bond created by the caregiver and horse, offenders can learn their capacity for caring and to value and accept responsibility for the well- being of others."
The horses get a second chance at life and the inmates get a second chance at redeeming their lives.
The general public and racing fans are often unaware of the sad fate that awaits thousands of thoroughbred horses each year. In the racing industry, of the nearly 40,000 foals registered annually, about one-third will never appear on a race track. Of those that do, fewer than 25 percent of the fillies and mares and less than 10 percent of the males will have breeding careers. Current economics dictate that that among all owners, no matter how responsible and well-intended, only a relative few are capable of maintaining even a single thoroughbred once it is unable to earn its keep on the track.
The THR program will afford horses new careers through rehabilitation and retraining leading to placement in qualified handicapped and other therapeutic riding programs.
"It's been a long process and without the support of Commissioner Donahue we would not be in a position to offer viable placement for the horses. This is a win-win situation, for both the horses and the offenders," says Putnamville Correctional Facility Supt. Al Parke.
"Putnamville Correctional Staff has taken on the challenge of developing a new partnership with THR to help offenders gain new skills, while giving the thoroughbreds a second chance," adds Parke. Currently two inmates are caring for the horses, preparing them for the facility's vocational program with other inmates which will begin on July 1. Fifty horses will eventually take part in the Thoroughbred Horse Retirement Program at the 100-acre facility, built and manned by inmates.