The MMSC Adoption Process

Please note: The adoption process has several steps. Steps 1-4 must be completed in their entirety before any potential adopter may ride and adopt a horse from the MMSC.

Step 1: Complete and Submit Adoption Application and Pay Application Filing Fee

Your journey to adopting a horse from the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center begins with completing an adoption application, available below. At the end of the application, you will be required to submit a $25 application filing fee before your application can be submitted.

If you are a minor, your parent or guardian MUST complete the Consent Form. Your adoption application will not be processed or approved without it.

Contact the MMSC at with any questions.

Step 2: Submit Photos

The MMSC wants to see where your adopted horse will be living. If you are completing your application online, click the button below to upload photos. If you have any difficulty uploading photos with the online submission system, you are welcome to submit your photos via email to

Required photos:

  • Photos of the pastures
  • A close up of all types of fencing
  • Exterior photo of the barn
  • Interior photo of a stall
  • Interior photo of the barn (e.g. barn aisle)

Additional photos (optional):

  • Riding or competition photos
  • Your current horses or animals
  • Photos of the riding areas at the facility.

You may upload more than one photo per category but in the event of multiple uploads each file may be no larger than 100MB. Acceptable file types include pdf, zip, jpg, jpeg, png, and gif. Finally, videos of you riding or handling horses may be submitted, in zip, mpg, flv, avi, or gif formats.

Step 3: References

The MMSC requires three (3) reference forms as addendums to your adoption application. These forms should be submitted by the following references:

  1. Character Reference: To be completed by any non-family individual who has worked with or known the applicant for at least 4 months and can attest to the applicant's character and level of responsibility.
  2. Equine Professional Reference: To be completed by any non-family individual who works professional in the equine industry. The preferred individual is the applicant's current trainer or riding instructor. Other suitable individuals include the barn manager of the facility where the applicant is boarding or has boarded a horse, a secondary vet, or a farrier.
  3. Veterinarian Reference: To be completed by a non-family licensed veterinarian. If the applicant is a current or recent horse owner, the vet should be the individual who has been treating the applicant's horses most recently. If the applicant is a first-time horse owner or someone who has not owned a horse in many years, the vet can be a small animal practitioner who treats the applicants dogs, cats, etc. Alternatively and less preferred, the vet may be the individual who will be treating the applicant's new adopted horse.

Each of your references should submit the applicable form below. As the applicant, you are responsible for contacting your references and asking them submit a reference form to the MMSC. Please note, the forms for each type of reference are different, so make sure your references complete the correct form.

Click the button below to access each online reference form. References completed online will be submitted to the MMSC automatically upon completion.

Please contact the MMSC at with any questions or concerns.

Step 4: Approval

Once the MMSC has received all the pieces of your application, including the required filing fee, your application will be processed by MMSC staff.  If we have no questions, the applications are forwarded to a committee of MMSC Board Members. This committee approves or denies an adoption application based on the suitability of the applicant as a home for an off-track Thoroughbred from the MMSC. This process can take 3-5 business days.

Once approved, your application will remain active for 3 years. If there is no change in the information contained in the application, you may adopt a horse from the MMSC at any time during this period. If there is a change in any of the information, such as the facility where the horse will be living, you must update your application to reflect the new information before you can adopt.

Application Renewal: An approved application may be renewed one (1) time after expiration of the aforementioned 3-year period. In this case, a Renewal Application must be submitted within six (6) months of the expiration date of the approved application. Please contact the MMSC at for a Renewal Application or for information regarding renewal of your application.

Step 5: Visit the MMSC and Choose Your OTTB

All approved adopters of HCRP horses are REQUIRED to travel to the MMSC's campus in Lexington, KY to ride the horses prior to adopting.  The MMSC places a high priority on the match between adopter and horse. We want to ensure that not only does the adopter get along with their horse of choice, but that the horse also is happy with the adopter. This cannot be assessed unless you ride the horse/s. We also frequently find that the horse a potential adopter has come to ride and adopt is not the horse that person ends up adopting. There is simply no substitute for sitting on the horses and feeling the connection between horse and rider.

When planning your visit to the MMSC, please contact the MMSC ahead of time. The MMSC calendar can become very busy. We want to make sure that all adopters visiting will have the time and attention they need to select the right horse. Potential adopters are encouraged to bring their own helmets. The MMSC will provide all tack needed, but you are welcome to bring your own saddle and may ride in that saddle if it fits the horse/s. Please keep in mind that horses are adopted out first come first serve to the approved adopter who proves to be a good fit. If you are keenly interested in a horse, be prepared to drop everything to come see it, as we do not hold horses. It is our responsibility to help as many OTTBs as possible to find new homes. As soon a horse moves out of our program, we have a new one waiting to move in. So if you do miss out on the horse you thought you wanted, rest assured there will always be more horses to choose from.

After visiting and riding the horses, you may choose to arrange a pre-purchase exam. Pre-purchase exams must be conducted at a time agreed upon by the MMSC staff, and they are the financial responsibility of the approved adopter. If you need a recommendation for a vet for your pre-purchase exam, please contact the MMSC.

Step 6: Negotiate an Adoption Fee and Sign an Adoption Contract

Adoption fees are not final until discussed with the MMSC Director Susanna Thomas. All adoption fees are subject to change at any time prior to the signing of the adoption contract, and they are always negotiable to the right home. The MMSC prefers the adoption fee to be paid by check or cash, as a significant portion of the fee is lost to processing fees when using a credit or debit card.

The adopter and the MMSC director will sign two copies of the adoption contract, and each party will keep an original, fully executed copy of the contract. In the contract, the adopter agrees that the adopted horse will never be raced, will never be bred, and will never be sold at auction or to slaughter. The adopter further agrees to participate in the Track for Life program, detailed below.

Step 7: Transport Your OTTB Home

Once the adoption contract has been signed, you will have 7 days to transport your OTTB to its new home. Beyond that date, the MMSC will charge a daily boarding rate of $30/day until the horse ships out. Adopters are welcome to bring a trailer with them when visiting the MMSC to try horses, and should all go well, may take the adopted horse home on the same day. The MMSC has the right to refuse loading of the horse into a personal trailer if it is deemed unsafe or too small. For recommended commercial transportation, click the button below.

Step 8: Track for Life

The MMSC tracks each of its adopted horses for its lifetime. Each year, adopters are required to submit a Track for Life form before the end of the year. In this form, adopters give a brief update on the horse, including its current place of residence, any injuries or illnesses it suffered in the past year, and any training successes it accomplished. Adopters are also required to submit at least two (2) conformation photos of the horse at this time, showing each side of the horse. Photos of horse and adopter enjoying themselves are nice additions to the standard photos and may be shared with the original owner of the horse and/or posted on our website or social media.

Adopters are permitted to sell their MMSC Graduate at any time after the adoption contract has been signed. However, all adopters first must offer notify the MMSC of their intention to sell and offer the MMSC the right of first refusal.  Moreover, the subsequent purchasers of the horse must sign a Transfer of Adoption Contract with the MMSC. These forms must be completed PRIOR to the new owner taking ownership of the horse in question. In this way, the MMSC will continue to track and monitor its horses with updates every year for the rest of each horse's life.

Additional Information

Mailing address:
Maker's Mark Secretariat Center
4089 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511

Phone: 859-246-3080
Fax: 859-246-3082

Email for adoption applications:
Email for general inquiries:

Please notify the MMSC by phone or email if you have submitted your application via fax and have not received a receipt confirmation from an MMSC staff member.