When Parx Racing’s Equine Athletes Finish Their High-Speed Careers, What Happens Next?

men on horseback
Image via Abayomi Azikiwe at Creative Commons.
Retired horses from Parx Racing often launch second careers with the Phila. Police Department.

When a horse has finished his or her career at Parx Racing in Bensalem, what happens next? Are they literally put out to pasture? Or resigned to a fate worse than that? Thanks to the work of New Start for Horses in Harrisburg, they transition to other engaging careers.

The need for a post-track career for a racehorse — from Parx or any other track — is evident: The average racehorse career is four to six years. The average equine lifespan is 25–30 years. Therefore, these thoroughbreds have got to spend retirement doing something.

New Start for Horses does just what its name implies. It provides “aftercare” spots for these magnificent animals, helping them transition from the rigors of racing to another line of usefulness.

“Everyone who works in the horse racing industry — from breeders and trainers to owners and jockeys — has one thing in common: they have a deep and unwavering love of horses,” said Pete Peterson, president of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association. “Aftercare organizations are an extension of that love.”

Aftercare is a bridge that includes detailed evaluations and training to ready a steed for another job. Common second careers include:

  • Therapy work
  • Mounted patrol duties with the Phila. Police Department
  • Horse competition in events such as barrel racing or dressage
  • The quiet lifestyle of a trail-riding companion horse

More on this placement service for the former fleet-footed flyers at Parx Racing is online.