Rescue Spotlight: The Retired Racehorse Project

This article was published on: 05/15/21 9:30 PM

horse and rider

The ASPCA has declared May Adopt-a-Horse Month.

So for the entire month of May, all of our horse treats will be 10% off AND we will be donating 10% of proceeds split between 3 different 501(c)3 nonprofit horse rescues.

Let’s meet our first chosen rescue – the Retired Racehorse Project.

We spoke with the Program Manager, Kristen Kovatch Bentley, at RRP to shed some light on this wonderful horse rescue organization and what it is that they do. Here is what Kristen had to say.

Who is the Retired Racehorse Project, and What Do they Do?

“The Retired Racehorse Project, or RRP, takes a market-based approach to Thoroughbred aftercare: we seek to increase the demand for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in second careers, inspire equestrians to seek out a Thoroughbred for their next competitive or recreational partner, and educate equestrians to help them transition these horses from the track to new jobs.

We achieve this mission through our banner event, the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, which is held annually in October at the Kentucky Horse Park. We welcome trainers who apply to compete at the event with a recently-retired racehorse with no more than 10 months of retraining for a second career, and they compete for over $100,000 in prize money over the course of a week of preliminary competition. The top five in each of 10 disciplines (barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, ranch work, show hunter and show jumper) come back for a Finale competition, and from the 10 discipline winners, a Thoroughbred Makeover Champion is named. Our 2020 competition was postponed due to the pandemic, so we are expecting a “mega-Makeover” this year, with TWO competition years running during the event, October 12-17 — over 900 horses will go through the Makeover process this year!”

-Kristen Kovatch Bentley, Program Manager

@019 Barrel Racing Champion and Ruder

Photo credit: CanterClix

A Unique Approach to Horse Rescue: The Thoroughbred Makeover

“The Thoroughbred Makeover also includes a vendor fair, the Makeover Marketplace (where horses who have graduated the Thoroughbred Makeover are listed for sale), the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit (a networking and educational event for those with a professional interest in Thoroughbred aftercare), and a seminar series on Thoroughbred health topics. The Makeover also includes the Master Class, which is an innovative clinic/demo in which trainers assess unstated prospects and then demonstrate their individual approach to the first ride and early retraining live in the arena.

While we’re best known for the Thoroughbred Makeover, that’s just one portion of the work that we do: in a typical (non-pandemic) year, we host retraining clinics and demos including the Master Class format all around the country; we publish a quarterly magazine called Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine; and we host and maintain the Thoroughbred Sport Tracker, a user-driven database of Thoroughbreds in second careers.”

-Kristen Kovatch Bentley, Program Manager

English Rider and Horse

Photo credit: CanterClix

RRP’s Impact on Horse Rescues

“To date, over 3,000 horses have been directly impacted by the Thoroughbred Makeover process (have been registered to compete in our event). The average price for prospects coming right off the track has increased over the past few years, indicating that the value for ex-racehorses is rising. Anecdotally, we know from our partners working directly in aftercare organizations that the RRP has helped increase the appeal and demand for off-track Thoroughbreds among equestrians. We have plenty more work to do, but we are proud of how far we’ve come!”
-Kristen Kovatch Bentley, Program Manager

While the RRP is unlike a traditional horse rescue that houses horses in need under their care, they have done some truly amazing work in promoting the OTTB’s in need. This 501(c)3 charitable organization has shown equestrians from all disciplines the impressive athleticism and trainability of the breed in second careers. We are proud to be their supporter, and hope you will consider an OTTB for your next riding partner in the future!

More information can be found at To support RRP and two other horse rescues, purchase A to Z Horse Cookies during the month of May and 10% of all proceeds split between these non-profit organizations

All images courtesy of CanterClix

Kirsty Bedwell