When Michael Jordan hung up his shoes and retired, for the second time that is, he became a business mogul and a team owner. When Tom Brady retired, uh, also for the second time, he immediately signed on as a TV analyst and minority owner in a racecar team (seriously Google that one). But what happened when Seabiscuit retired? Or California Chrome? What about your favorite and mine, Ghostzapper?

Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo
Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo
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Not All Racehorses Get the Same Retirement

Some get to go to literal green pastures, where they spend the rest of their life in open spaces and top-notch facilities designed to maximize comfort, generally for breeding purposes. Others become trained for other types of sporting events like showjumping, and others unfortunately are euthanized or go to slaughter auctions. Awh.

But worry not! There's a noble group of folks in Kentucky that are dedicated to providing the utmost, perfect home for any retired four-legged athlete once their racing days are behind them.

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Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo
Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo
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There's More Than the Racetrack

Second Stride is an adoption program based out of Kentucky that's deeply committed to not just finding these horses homes, but a new purpose in their life. Given their intelligent nature and strong stature, they're incredibly suited to naturally fulfill many types of roles besides contesting for photo finishes. Second Stride believes the first 3-6 months after the racetrack are the most pivotal to giving these thoroughbreds new "jobs." Yes, they refer to them as jobs.

The organization has a pretty impressive track record of helping these animals once they're done on the track, and pardon me while I note down how clever of a metaphor that was of me to use. Since 2005, Second Stride has given over 1,500 stallions a new home!

Or job, as they're apparently called, which would make them one of the best employers in all of Kentucky. Nice.

READ MORE: WHY MY DAUGHTER LOVES HORSEBACK RIDING LESSONS AND YOU MIGHT TOO

Their Goals Are Rooted in Passion, and Benefit Everyone Involved

It's clear that those that work at the Kentucky-based organization have the horses and the new owner's best interests at heart, as they go the extra length (another racing pun, boom) to better the industry. Follow these blue words here to see how they describe their goals:

"We strive to educate the riding community about the Thoroughbred racehorse and the racing industry. Second Stride also strives to educate the racing community about the needs of a general riding horse owner and the transitional needs of a horse right off the track. We found that proper handling for the first 3-6 months of these horses increased the success rate of a permanent match into a new job, and dramatically stopped the rotating of horses back and forth into the programs from failed matches."

It's wonderful to hear that these incredible creatures get another chance at fulfillment after they hang up the horseshoes and that there are such devoted people that are part of the process, which is far less than I can say about my own affinity to horses, as I've been extremely indifferent to them from a young age since my uncle put me on one backward and let it loose in my grandpa's cow pasture. Growing up on a farm is not for the faint of heart.

Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo
Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo
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Want to Help?

There are several ways to get involved. If you are a seasoned horse person with the means to adopt a retired racehorse, you can see the list of adoptable horses here. If you think they are magnificent creatures but would rather support them from the ground, you can donate directly to Second Stride and/or be sure to attend their main fundraising event of the year that happens (quite conveniently) during Derby Week.

According to the Facebook event:

Molly Malone's Highlands
Second Stride Facebook
Second Stride Facebook
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Join us 6:00 - 9:00pm for the only fundraiser Derby week that is specifically for the horses! A night of fun, friends, celebrity guests, handicapping the Derby, live entertainment, auctions, raffles and more. Celebrating and supporting Thoroughbred aftercare!

Photos provided by Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo.

See Inside the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY

This summer, we visited the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, and we had an absolute blast. The world's only "Equine Theme Park" you can enjoy a horse-drawn trolley ride, meet world-champion horses, see horses "dance," and learn about all the ways horses have enriched the human experience throughout time. Here's a sneak peek in the park. Visit kyhorsepark.com for more info!

Fulfill Your 'Yellowstone' Fantasies at The Double J Riding Stables & Horseman's Campground in Western KY

The Double J Riding Stables & Horseman's Campground is situated off the Northeastern corner of Mammoth Cave National Park in Western Kentucky. What drew me to the campground is that they offer horse-friendly campsites for those who have their own horses and also guided horseback trail rides for those who don't!

Our family LOVES horses but we currently don't have a horse for everyone in the family so this would be a perfect solution to get everyone the chance to play cowboy and live out all their Yellowstone fantasies!

 

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