Thoroughbred Makeover Increases Demand for Off-Track Thoroughbreds

Phillip Dutton and Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography
Phillip Dutton and Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography

Icabad Crane, a nine-year-old gelding who ran third in the 2008 Preakness Stakes, returned to Pimlico Race Course on Sunday, October 5 to win the America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred contest sponsored by EQUUS Foundation, taking home the winner’s share of the $10,000 purse.

The contest, organized as part of the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, paired ten top trainers with ten Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and showed their progress throughout the summer on the RRP’s website. Each team represented an equestrian discipline: Polo, Show Hunter, Eventing, Ranch Work, Steeplechase, Fox Hunter, Show Jumper, Barrel Racing, Dressage and Pony Club.

With 10,480 people voting online in a very tight race, Team Icabad pulled out all the stops to win. A series of video endorsements from his former jockeys, past trainer and current owner Graham Motion, current trainer and rider Olympian Phillip Dutton, and Phillip’s thirteen-year-old daughter Olivia contributed to his popularity, but the on-track performance sealed the win. Jumping a five stride line of jumps in four, five, six, seven, and eight strides proved just how responsive this great horse has become, but when Olivia got on and showed the horse’s generosity and kindness with some beautiful work on the flat, Icabad truly became America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

“He is very adjustable and such a sensible horse,” Dutton said. “The last time he was at Pimlico was when he ran in the Preakness Stakes in 2008, so to give it a go in front of the grandstands says a hell of a lot about the horse,” he said.

Patrick King and Pookie's Princess. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography
Patrick King and Pookie’s Princess. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography

“The whole afternoon was pretty incredibly inspiring watching these off-track Thoroughbreds — where their lives have gone and what the other trainers have been able to achieve with them in all these other disciplines,” Phillip said.

At the end of the day on Sunday, it came down to just 120 votes between Icabad and Pookie’s Princess, with trainer Patrick King demonstrating Western Dressage, a bit of reining, working with a tarp over her head, work with the Garocha pole, and lying down on the track at the end for Patrick to dismount.

Close behind were Discreet Dancer, trained by Olympic show jumper Armand Leone representing New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, and then D’Sauvage of MidAtlantic Horse Rescue demonstrating side saddle, show hunter, and leadline. All ten contestants had large followings rooting for them and all went home proud.

“What happened on the track today was a gift from Thoroughbred horses to people everywhere,” said RRP President Steuart Pittman. “They showed us their souls, their generosity, and their elegance. We are grateful to our sponsors, our host, our participants, and to all of the racing, equestrian, and mainstream local media outlets for spreading this story to millions of readers, viewers, and listeners. The demand for these horses after racing is growing and that is our gift back to the horses. ”

The America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred contest was just one part of a weekend-long event celebrating Thoroughbreds off the track. Now in its second year, the RRP’s Thoroughbred Makeover is the national gathering of the farms, organizations, and trainers who transition these horses to second careers. Morning seminars covered training, health care, and the business side of acquiring, training, and placing horses with new owners. The TCA Thoroughbred Marketplace showcased 48 Thoroughbreds for sale or adoption, giving owners the opportunity to present the horses to spectators and connect with buyers from the region.

The event was streamed live on reaching more than 5,000 viewers during the two days. The video will be available for viewing on the Retired Racehorse Project’s website. Seven hundred people attended the event during the weekend.

The EQUUS Foundation was the presenting sponsor for America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest. Thoroughbred Charities of America sponsored the TCA Thoroughbred Marketplace.

About the Retired Racehorse Project

The RRP works to facilitate placement of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in second careers by increasing demand for them in the marketplace and inspiring an army of equestrians to provide the training that secures their futures. RRP offers online directories, educational resources, and public events..

Article by Phillip Dutton and Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography.


Managing Veterinary Costs to Avoid Economic Euthanasia

Managing Veterinary Costs:  Avoiding Economic Euthanasia
Guest post by Suzanne Cannon 8/1/2014

According to a recent article published by USA Today (June 2014), the number of pets euthanized for economic reasons is on the rise.  As the cost of veterinary treatment has increased — in great part due to significant advances in veterinary medicine — the ability of pet owners to pay for veterinary care has declined.

English: A veterinary student learns to perfor...
English: A veterinary student learns to perform and interpret ultrasound on horse at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida in the United States in September 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE from Joni: The economy has also had a part in increasing veterinary costs and causing people’s paychecks not to stretch as far. This article talks mostly about small pets – dogs and cats, but horse owners too have found the cost of veterinary care has increased. There are many horse owners that can no longer afford basic vet care for their equine friend. There are many places online where you can find horse’s offered for free and the equine rescues are all full.

Pet Owners Often Fear Cost of Treatment

Anecdotal evidence gathered by USA Today includes quotes from both veterinarians and animal shelter workers who say that the incidence of “economic euthanasia” has increased dramatically in recent years.  At one veterinary clinic in Fredericksburg, VA, the practice owner noted that two-thirds of the pets put to sleep each week are euthanized because their owners can’t afford to care for them.  In one case, a dog had to be euthanized due to a salmonella infection, because his owners waited over a week to bring him to the vet.  The reason for the delay?  Fear of the cost of treatment.

Despite Increased Spending on Pets Overall, Veterinary Costs Higher Than Expected

According to the American Pet Products Association and the Humane Society of the United States, there are 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats in the United States.  Their owners spent approximately $55 billion on these pets in 2013, an increase of $2 billion dollars since 2012.  Despite the willingness to spend on our pets, who in many cases are considered family members, many of us can no longer afford the significant upfront cost of veterinary care — particularly if it involves emergency or surgical treatment.  Even routine and preventive care has become costly.  In 2011, the Bayer/Brakke Veterinary Care Usage Study found that 53% of respondents agreed with the statement, “the cost of a routine vet visit is usually much higher than I expect.

Vet Costs a Hot Topic, Even on Primetime TV

The issue of high veterinary costs is a prevalent topic these days, so much so that it has even made its way into television prime time.  On a recent episode of FX’s “Married,” starring Judy Greer and Nat Faxon, the plot centered around a $5,000 vet bill — and how to pay it.  While 76% of pet owners report that they would spend “any amount necessary” to keep their pet alive, in reality most owners aren’t prepared for the reality of treating an emergency or catastrophic illness, and are devastated — emotionally and financially — when hit with a vet bill for thousands of dollars.

Pet Health Care vs. Finances: Finding a Balance

Obviously the question on the minds of both pet owners and veterinarians is “how can veterinary treatment be made more affordable?”  There is a glaring gap between the level of care that owners want for their pet, and their ability to pay for that care.  From the veterinarian’s point of view, it is frustrating that providing optimal care for every pet is often encumbered by financial barriers.

There are actually several ways to address the issue of managing veterinary costs, in order to achieve a more comfortable balance between the desired level of care and pet owner finances.  The best solution is likely to be a combined strategy, in which pet owners avail themselves of all available means for cost containment.

Strategies for Managing Veterinary Costs

Third-party Payment Plans

When you visit your veterinary hospital, ask about the availability of third-party payment plans — and not just financing plans, but installment payment plans in which the cost of an expensive procedure can be spread out over time.  Installment payment plans can be a better choice if you don’t want a credit inquiry showing on your credit report, and you will also avoid being hit with a high interest rate if you miss a payment, or can’t pay off your balance in the specified time frame.

Pet Insurance

Consider buying pet insurance.  There are many plans available, and a good place to start is by asking your veterinarian for some recommendations.  You should compare plans, and consider what a policy covers.  You should also assess the affordability of the deductible and premium; the process for submitting claims; and the length of time for reimbursement.  You should also note any exclusions for preexisting conditions or specific illnesses that might not be covered.

Wellness/Preventive Care Plans

Enroll your pet in an annual wellness plan if your vet offers one. Also known as “preventive care plans,” these are typically one-year contracts that cover the cost of routine preventive care.  Plans are priced differently depending on the stage of your pet’s life, or the level of services provided.  The cost of the plan can be paid in full, or in some cases, in monthly installments, making it easier to work veterinary expenses into a household budget.

Financial Assistance through Charitable Organizations

Another avenue to explore is charitable organizations dedicated to veterinary financial assistance.  Some groups provide funds for owners of specific breeds, others may offer help for particular diseases, such as cancer or cardiovascular disorders.  Still others serve pet owners in certain geographic areas.  A comprehensive list of organizations that provide veterinary financial assistance can be found on the web site  Identifying which organization you might want to use, before you need it, can help give you peace of mind.

Coupons, Discounts, Promotions

Keeping up with coupons or special offers for discounts at your vet is another way to reduce costs.  Including your veterinarian’s Facebook page in your newsfeed is a good way to stay informed about marketing promotions that may benefit your bank account.  Some vets write newsletters, so subscribe if you can, and watch the mail for promotional offers that come from animal health care companies.  You may be able to redeem a coupon for heartworm medication or flea and tick preventative, among other things.

It is reasonable to expect that the cost of pet health care will continue to rise, due to continuing advances in diagnostic and therapeutic options.  With that in mind, pet owners will benefit from developing a comprehensive financial plan for managing veterinary costs.  By combining available resources (pet insurance, wellness plans, charitable funds, payment plans) instead of taking a singular approach, fewer pet owners will have to face the gut-wrenching dilemma of choosing between their pet’s life and their pocketbook.  It is possible to avoid “economic euthanasia.”


Pet Insurance University, – resource for evaluating, comparing and educating yourself about types of coverage and various plans

Euthanizing pets increasing as vet costs rise – USA Today June 7, 2014

Is pet insurance worth the cost? -Though they may seem confusing, the right pet insurance policy can make the difference between a $100 or a $1,000 vet bill. – MSN 6/10/2014

VeTeam Advisor supplement, “The Cost of Pet Health Care,” J. Schori, VMD, ed. May/June 2013

JAVMAnews, “Banking on wellness:  Practices try out monthly payment plans to promote preventive care,” May 2014 VIN News Service, “Veterinary nonprofits: unfair competitors or worthy charities?,”  April 2014

VIN News Service, “Help exists for those struggling to pay veterinary bills,” May 2014

Guest post by:
Suzanne Cannon
Electronic Billing & Customer Support 800-766-1918 ext 101

Round Hay Bale Feeders the Advantages and Disadvantages

Round bale hay feeders are a popular choice for many horse owners looking to improve ways of feeding their horses. Many farmers and horse owners have to deal with the rising costs of hay, which isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of it is wasted as a result of damage, moisture absorption, and spoilage caused by animals, soil, and other factors. Round bale feeders have the advantage of combating many of these issues, however there are also some disadvantages to using round bale feeders. Let’s look at both sides to help you work out whether or not a round hay bale feeder is the best choice for you.

round bale hay feeders
round hay feeders
round bale hay feeders
round bale hay feeders


  • Round bale feeders that are designed for horses are designed in a way which ensures safety for horses to feed. There are no sharp edges, no corners or anywhere where metal may stick out and cause injuries. Horses are also far less likely to get hooves stuck because of the fact that they’re elevated slightly off the ground.
  • For fields with more than one horse, a round bale feeder can eliminate fighting between horses over food by providing plenty of space for the horses to get around, but also limiting the amount of hay they have access to.
  • Some round bale feeders release hay slower than say square bale feeders. This helps stop horses from overeating and also means that owners aren’t limited to feeding times – meaning they can replace hay less frequently, but still ensure that horses are well fed.
  • With a well designed round hay feeder there’s less waste involved. As many are designed to be slightly above the ground, the hay will drain and won’t pick up moisture from the ground whilst their design ensures that horses won’t be able to draw too much hay from the bale.
  • The fact that many reduce hay waste means they provide better value for money. In general buying round hay bales come out cheaper per ton of hay than square bales.
  • Individual feeders allow horses to eat from the bale as they choose, which allows you to further prevent overeating.
  • They can placed indoors to help keep the hay dry.


  • Round hay bale feeders not designed for horses can cause injuries. Also you must take care that they are installed correctly too.
  • Round bale feeders need to be located within easy access of vehicles, if they are placed in a difficult position, you may not be able to access them during harsh, snowy winters or wet, muddy, springs.
  • Most round bale feeders are placed slightly above the ground, which means horses are forced to eat in a way which is slightly elevated, and, therefore, not to the ground like they are used to.
  • Because of the foot traffic of the areas where the round bale feeder is located, these areas can pool water which can cause the ground to become muddy and slippery. The best way to combat this is to move them around regularly or put them in a raised area on a gravel base.

In general, round bale feeders are considered to be a cost effective, a valuable source of feeding, and more so than simply placing hay bales in the field. When installed correctly and with consideration given to their location, they can be a great asset and can reduce the amount of work needed to feed horses adequately.

There are many varieties of round bale hay feeders available. Please do some research to find the best one for you and your horses.

Robinsons Equestrian of the UK sales them at Robinsons Equestrian is the UK’s No.1 provider of horse riding apparel and stable products. Check out their entire range of hay feeders on their website.

— end —

Guest article by Albert Clamark.

Horse Hay Feeders on Pinterest | 19 Pins –

Hay bale feeders on Pinterest | 15 Pins –

Pinterest search for : round bale hay feeders –

My free horse cookies arrived and they are good

Carolyn Kooken, founder of Winnie’s Cookies mailed me some of her healthy horse cookies to try out. They are cute — looking like little short cupcakes covered with seeds and cracked grains — they look healthy and high in fiber. They have the sweet smell of molasses and they are firm, dry, and rough in texture. I took one cookie and broke it into three pieces. I put one piece in my month (don’t worry they are all organic and made with human grade ingredients) and give one to little dog, BooBoo, and then the other piece to my other dog, Gigit. Both dogs quickly finish theirs and were looking at me for more. I was still chewing the hearty texture and enjoying the lightly sweet flavor.

Winnie's Cookies
Winnie’s Cookies
Winnie's Cookies with Brochure
Winnie’s Cookies with Brochure

Next I put a small piece of Winnie’s Cookies in my parakeet’s food bowl. My two parakeets went and checked out the cookie piece and had a little fuss over who would get it. The female ended up chewing it into tiny pieces and eating some of the seeds and grains. Then the male parakeet got some of the left over crumbs.

Both of my ponies loved Winnie’s Cookies! These cookies cut info small pieces will make good clicker training treats.

Diablo the pony searching the ground for more cookie crumbs.
Diablo the pony searching the ground for more cookie crumbs.
My Female Parakeet
My Female Parakeet

It looks like seed eating birds like parakeets enjoy these cookies along with dogs and horses and health conscience people like me and my mom. I also tried the cookie with fresh picked blueberries on the side — yummy! And then the next day I had a cookie with fresh figs from my garden — super yum! At this rate I might end up eating more of these cookies than my animals. 🙂

So if you would like to give them a try too please visit their website.

Free Winnie’s Cookie Sample Program

Complimentary Winnies Cookies

Winnie’s Cookies has a program where they send out a free sample to horse and dog people who request them (dogs love them too). Call 800-810-9466 or there is a link on their homepage at

My first article about these cookies where I interview the owner: Healthy Horse Cookies from Winnie’s Cookies –

Thumbs Up for Winnie's Cookies
Thumbs Up for Winnie’s Cookies
Winnie's Cookies in Container with Brochure
Winnie’s Cookies in Container

Healthy Horse Cookies from Winnies Cookies

Carolyn Kooken, founder of Winnies Cookies contacted me about sending me a sample of her horse cookies and if I would post her free sample cookie offer on my site.

So I replied back with a list of questions that Carolyn quickly answered. I have posted my questions and her answers below because I sure that some of you might also have wondered about these equine cookies.

Winnies Cookies
Winnies Cookies

How did this horse cookie business get started?

My father and I started the Winnies Cookies business in March of 1999.  I have been a life long equestrian, starting riding when I was six, and an animal lover. I have two 14 month old Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and had worked at a large government/private facility for 10 years and wanted a change.

Equines and Dogs Love Winnies Cookies
Equines and Dogs Love Winnies Cookies

Dad and I had previously started a business of breeding, raising and training Warmblood show jumpers.  It seemed like a logical fit to have a business in the horse industry.  We worked together for the next seven years in all aspects of the business until he was diagnosed with brain cancer in August of 1996 and passed away in May 2007.  I have continued to work hard to maintain Winnies Cookies as part of Dad’s legacy.

How were the ingredients chosen? What are the main ingredients? Are they free of GMOs?

We source all of our human grade certified organic ingredients with no GMO ingredients and produce our products in our own facility.  Nothing is outsourced.  The ingredients were developed by an equine nutritionist to provide horses vitamins, minerals and amino acids they need.  They “Work like a Supplement, Taste Like a Treat”.  The ingredients are whole wheat, corn, barely, triticale, millet, rye, wheat bran, flax seed, alfalfa seed, dulse, unsulphered molasses , blackstrap molasses, and filtered water.

Any white papers on how they have helped cut down on horse feed costs?

We do not have any scientific papers on reducing feed costs but have years of anecdotal evidence from our customers.

Does Winnies Cookies give back to horses? Like donating to horse rescues or giving them discounts?

We have over the years supported a variety of horse rescues and  the US Human Society with product donations.  We have also in the past supported the Don McBeth Jockey Fund.  We are not currently sending out any product as I always want to find the best causes and have many requests.

Does Winnies Cookies have a Pinterest Business Account?

I have just set up a Pinterest account but have not used it yet. I have tons of pics, buckets of cookies, horses with cookies, kids with horses and cookies.

Free Winnies Cookie Sample Program

Complimentary Winnies Cookies
Complimentary Winnies Cookies

We have a program to send out a free sample to horse and dog people who request them — dogs love them too. Call 800-810-9466 or there is a link on our homepage at

Carolyn Kooken

NOTE from Joni: I am very happy to see a equine related business that is looking out for the health of horses and out earth with organic, non-gmo ingredients. I am also wondering how many of you feel the same. Do you seek out companies that sell equine products that don’t use harmful chemical pesticides and herbicides? What are your feelings about all the GMO plant products?