EQUUS Foundation Funds MMSC Clean Start Program

The Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) is pleased to announce the receipt of a 2019 grant from the EQUUS Foundation for the MMSC’s Clean Start: Let Down and Lay Up Program.

Every day, Thoroughbreds are retired from racing. Bred to compete, most are eager and willing to step into a new job. But Thoroughbred racehorses are athletes, and like any top-level athlete, they may have physical, mental, or emotional ailments that must be addressed before doing so. The MMSC’s Clean Start Program gives those horses the chance to heal and readjust from the demands of the racetrack before tackling a new sport.  

“Sometimes the only things an OTTB needs to progress to a second career are time and TLC,” says MMSC Executive Director Susanna Thomas. “For an off-track Thoroughbred in need, time spent in the Clean Start Program can make all the difference in ensuring its successful future. But the process can also be costly, which is an onus for a non-profit organization like the MMSC that relies solely on individual donations.”

Sterling Thunder and adopter Meghan Adelman

Sterling Thunder and adopter Meghan Adelman

Sterling Thunder is one of the horses who has benefited from the EQUUS Foundation’s support of the Clean Start Program. Retired from racing in the fall of 2017 with a life-threatening knee infection, Sterling needed significant care and time to heal. He remained in the Clean Start Program for many months, until he was sound and ready to find a new career and home. Having received the benefits of chiropractic adjustments, hoof and joint supplements, and laser therapy from RevitaVet while in the Clean Start Program, he transitioned back to under saddle work at the MMSC smoothly and was adopted shortly thereafter. He has remained sound and in training for dressage with his adopter Meghan Adelman and will be competing at the TCA Thoroughbred Makeover next week, a feat most would not have imagined possible when he first arrived at MMSC in 2017.

“With the wonderful new developing market for sound off-track Thoroughbreds,” Thomas continued, “grants such as this one from the EQUUS Foundation are invaluable and allow us to better help those horses like Sterling, that may be overlooked otherwise, to get up and ‘running’ again as a fabulous sport or pleasure horse.”

The MMSC is proud to have earned the EQUUS Foundation Guardian Seal, which means that it has met the foundation’s strict and laudable standards as a charitable organization that practices transparency and excellence.

“The EQUUS Foundation is committed to ensuring that all horses transition from one career to the next, providing a safe haven for aged horses, and increasing opportunities for all people to engage and partner with horses in new, innovative ways,” said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President. “We recognize and reward equine charities that are fully transparent and align with our goals as EQUUS Foundation Guardians. We applaud MMSC’s devotion to making the right match between horse and adopter and advocating for off-track Thoroughbreds and are pleased to be able to support the Clean Start Program of this very deserving EQUUS Foundation Guardian."

Founded in 2002, the EQUUS Foundation is the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America's horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. This year the EQUUS Foundation awarded $405,000 to 163 charities that earned the EQUUS Foundation Guardian Seal of Transparency by completing the EQUUS Foundation comprehensive and unique verification process.

Sterling Thunder and adopter Meghan Adelman

Sterling Thunder and adopter Meghan Adelman


The Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC), founded in 2004, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) horse adoption program that is dedicated to preparing off-track Thoroughbreds for happy, healthy, and successful post-track careers by rehabilitating and giving them a broad-based foundation of skills to ensure a harmonious match with their adopters. Located in the world famous Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, the MMSC advocates for the athleticism and versatility of the American Thoroughbred and provides educational opportunities for human development through horsemanship.