Friday, January 18, 2013

"FEATURE FRIDAY-Lynn Rearden and LOPE-Saving Ex-Racehorses"

Howdy Folks,
Since its founding by Lynn Reardon in 2003, LOPE has helped transition over 800 Texas ex-racehorses of all breeds into new careers through its adoption ranch facility, website listing service and urgent-placement emails. They have personally taken in over 140 ex-racehorses, rehabilitated and healed them sending them on to loving homes and careers.
2 fillies at LOPE ready for new adventures
Lynn did not grow up with horses. In fact she was an adult before she ever began riding. She visited a racetrack in Maryland near her home at the time of day while horses were being exercised on the track. She instantly fell in love with racehorses' heart and athleticism. Soon she began to volunteer at a local racehorse adoption group near DC (CANTOR Mid-Atlantic). She loved what they did there to help the ex-racehorse and learned much. When she moved to Texas she sought out a similar program to volunteer with and finding none, she started LOPE.

Originally, Lynn started LOPE just as an online listing service (a sort of “Craigslist” for ex-racehorses) in 2003. They had so many race trainers approach them who wanted to donate horses directly to LOPE that they decided to open an adoption ranch in 2004. "My primary motivation was simply that I admired and respected racehorses – and was amazed that I could actually be helpful to them once their careers were over. It was my idea of the best job ever!" Lynn said.

LOPE horses "relaxing"
Lynn points out, it is important to understand that rehabbing an ex-racehorse is a bit different than others. While letting them learn to be, "horses" and relax in pastures with other horses is the first important step, something they will often find strange, since in their first career they would most likely have been stalled except for work out or race time. It must be done gradually, starting with small turnouts. "Some racehorses are so excited about being turned out in an open area that they run madly about, dashing into whatever obstacles are in their way. Though that is fairly rare, we like to be conservative and limit their space at first. So they might start in a small corral, then work their way up into a larger paddock and then be turned out in the fields. We also have a couple of retired horses that act as den mothers to the new arrivals." Explained Lynn.

Lynn and Santo
When they've had adequate "Vacation Time" their rehabbing under saddle can begin. While ex-racehorses come with basic skills and talents such as trailer loading, in other areas it might require going back to the basics. "Sometimes they might have been rushed a little at the track – so they might have gaps in their foundation. We like to find these gaps and help the horses learn a fuller picture about those basics. It’s kind of like kindergarten." Lynn said. "Too often, people will try to work with an ex-racehorse right off the track – and that can often backfire a little. They typically need that transition between their racing lifestyle and their new job training program – it really helps them to relax and be super receptive to new training."

"Any horses in rehab who are recovering from injuries and aren’t being ridden yet, are groomed regularly, checked daily, to make sure their injuries are healing on schedule, and handled on the ground so they continue building skills." Lynn said.

LOPE's adoption process is desigined to ensure each horse and its new partner are a proper match and requires a detail approval questionnaire with information about their riding and horse care experience, their plans for the horse and their facility. "We also require current vet and farrier references, as well as references from a trainer or instructor (if applicable) and we check those references carefully." Lynn said.
Learning new fun stuff at LOPE
LOPE horses have gone on to do trail/pleasure riding, dressage, western playdays, eventing, hunter/jumper, ranch work, polo and therapeutic riding. LOPE has also adopted horses out to be pets or companion horses ... Dressage, hunter/jumper, eventing and playday riding, all usually involve some type of competition."Though our horses tend to be placed with homes that are more interested in friendly, family type competition than Olympic level events," Lynn explained.

LOPE has many other wonderful programs to help ex-racehorses and the people who love them, or want to learn to love them such as, Public Education and Outreach Programs, volunteer programs and LOPE plans more exciting ways to promote the valuable and wonderful ex-racehorse … Please visit their website to learn much more .

Thank you Lynn Rearden and everybody at LOPE for spreading the word and giving so many ex-racehorses new careers!

Gitty Up,
 Dutch Henry

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