MMSC's Clean Start Program Receives ASPCA Grant

Lexington, KY -- The Maker's Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC), located at the Kentucky Horse Park, is pleased to announce the award of a generous grant from the ASCPA to launch the MMSC's Clean Start: Let Down and Lay Up project, an off-site program for Thoroughbreds coming directly off the track that need rest and rehabilitation prior to being retrained for new careers.

"The MMSC has the most prodigious of addresses: the Kentucky Horse Park, which gives us a lot of visibility and demand for our horses. But our campus is small, and its handful of paddocks and ten-stall barn limits the number of horses we can take in at one time," says MMSC Director Susanna Thomas. "The ASPCA's support of our new initiative will allow us to help many more horses annually because they will come to us ready to be reschooled. We are very grateful for the ASPCA's recognition of our need."

"Although their racing days may have come to an end, retirees have a lot to offer as they transition into new and varied careers - a process that required significant time and resources," said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. "The ASPCA is pleased to award this grant to the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center as part of our Rescuing Racers Initiative, to assist their efforts to care for and rehabilitate retired racers for their second act."

Like soldiers returning from war, off-track Thoroughbreds have aching muscles and limbs, ulcers, and sometimes PTSD. They need time to heal - mentally, emotionally, and physically - and to learn to just be horses again. The MMSC's Clean Start program will allow horses to go directly from the track to a nearby farm for let down and lay up. Here they can unwind physically and mentally so they will be ready when they come to the MMSC to commence the Horse Centered Reschooling Program, a rigorous training curriculum that gives them solid foundations for loving new homes. "This will allow horses to progress much more quickly through our program," Thomas says, "which means that more horses than ever before will be available for adoption."

The idea behind the MMSC, which opened in 2004, was to use the illustrious location of the Kentucky Horse Park to educate the public about the versatility and athleticism of off-track Thoroughbreds in second careers and to provide a marquee for OTTB reschooling and adoption. The initial funding came from Maker's Mark, Keeneland Race Course, and private donors. Today, the MMSC is supported solely by donations, grants, and adoption fees. Director Susanna Thomas brought the Horse Centered Reschooling Program to the MMSC. It is a holistic interdisciplinary training program comprised of three distinct phases: body, spirit, and mind. Potential adopters must fill out an application and when approved come to the MMSC to try the horse/s to make sure that the fit between horse and adopter is a good one. Reschooling sessions and the Bucephalus Training Library, a compendium of books and resources about training horses, are open to the public. For more information, visit www.secretariatcenter.org.