News / USA

Old Racehorses Give Prisoners Second Chance

Old Racehorses Give Prisoners Get Secondi
|| 0:00:00
X
Sahar Sarshar
July 31, 2012 12:23 PM
At the James River Work Center, a prison in the central part of the state of Virginia, inmates are taught to care for retired racehorses. It’s a second chance for all involved. The non-profit Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation saves former race horses from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter. At the same time, the horses prepare prison inmates for life after incarceration. VOA's Sahar Sarshar reports.

Old Racehorses Give Prisoners Get Second

Sahar Sarshar
GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Virginia — At the James River Work Center, a prison in the central part of the state of Virginia, inmates are taught to care for retired racehorses.

It’s a second chance for all involved. The non-profit Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation saves former race horses from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter. At the same time, the horses prepare prison inmates for life after incarceration.   

“When they asked me if I was interested in this program, I jumped on the opportunity," says one inmate, "because how could you not love these creatures?”  

In the course of the six-month program, the men learn about horse behavior, grooming, anatomy, health and horse care. They also become very fond of their charges.

“This is my horse Covert Action," says an inmate named Elliot. "This is the grandson of Secretariat. He's a good horse. If you remember Secretariat, that's the horse that won the race in the Belmont.”

Inmate Ryan says there are signs the animal he cares for was a racehorse. “I think he had a typical race track life. He showed signs of steroid injections, side effects of that is biting, nipping, you can feel scar tissue from the injections.”  

The horses are fed twice a day, groomed and checked for injuries or health concerns. Some are ridden to prepare them for adoption as riding and companion horses.  
 
While the inmates’ training program also includes classroom work, instructor Reid McLellan says the hands-on experience is the important thing.

“It's that spending every day in the stall with those horses… and horses don't put up with the kind of false bravado," McLellan says. "They recognize false bravado right away. And they'll teach them a lesson that that's not the way to be in harmony with this big 1,000-pound [453.5 kilograms] animal in that stall.”

Will, an inmate and graduate of the program, is now a teaching assistant. He'll finish serving his prison term in September and already has a job lined up.

His horse, Happy, is also starting a new life, and has already been adopted.

"Happy was the first horse I'd been around. She suffered an injury in the field. She was a needless to say, a cantankerous thing," Will says. "I guess something changed in her. She's very likable now. Loves attention.”

It was not just Happy who changed. Ann Ticker, of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, says Will also had some behavior issues at first.

“Will came into the program a very insecure young man from a troubled background," she says. "He had no idea what he wanted to do...Will is now a confident young man. We have a wonderful job for him and a place to live.”

With an opportunity awaiting him when he's released, Will is confident that he can turn his life around.

“I don't ever want to go back to the person that I was, or come back to here," he says.

The odds are in Will's favor. According to program organizers, few of the inmates who complete the program return to prison. Both animals and inmates alike seem to be taking advantage of this second chance.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dale from: Virginia Beach VA
July 31, 2012 6:16 PM
I had the honor and priviledge to visit Covert Action and Multiple Choice (great grandson of Secretariat) last month at the Goochland facility. It was an emotional time for me and I will never forget my time spent with them. I love Secretariat and I never thought I would be able to meet some of his off spring. I play to go back sometime in August and at least once every month or two to visit and bring them apples and carrots. Thanks to Amy and the guys there for making this a highlight of my life


by: Bobbie from: NJ
July 31, 2012 2:31 PM
What more could you ask for?
Save Horses
Save People
Save Money in the long run
Everybody wins!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid