Rescuing Thoroughbred Racehorses in New Jersey ๐ŸŽ

March 1 was National Horse Rescue Day. It’s a day to bring awareness to the plight of horses in America and beyond and help the thousands of unwanted horses in this country to find forever homes.

Here’s a story about a person dedicated to helping thoroughbred horses. When these horse retire from racing, their lives can quickly end. But one horse lover helps to retrain, rescue, and adopt these lovely animals to give them a better quality of life.

Ever since she was a child, Erin Hurley has loved horses. Hurley continues her love of horses through her nonprofit called South Jersey Thoroughbred Rescue and Adoption, Inc. (SJTR&A).

A story in the Christian Science Monitor explained Hurleyโ€™s passion for rescuing thoroughbred horses: horse meat. Hurleyโ€™s thinks these beautiful animals deserve a better life than to end up on someoneโ€™s dinner plate.



Many horses, aged three to five years, have a short life on the race track. When they suffer injuries or other problems, racehorses are sent to auction, loaded on a truck to end up in killing pens in Canada and Mexico.

Since 2008, Hurley has rescued and adopted over 250 thoroughbred horses through SJTR&A.

Hurley has spent her working life with horses and started a therapeutic riding school called Unicorn for 18 years. Riding helped children with cognitive and physical disabilities.

She had a competition for horses based on training for cavalry officers. Hurley also works with Turning For Home (TFH), a racehorse rescue program at Philadelphia Park, a racetrack in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Hurley said that:

“My passion has always been to rescue and retrain racehorses off the track,” she says. “I have always been impressed by their athleticism and heart.”

Hurley wanted to do more to help horses. When she connected with Turning For Home, she closed Unicorn and started SJTR&A. She explained that:

“I donโ€™t know what I would have done if I had not connected with Turnยญing For Home,” Hurley says. “I donโ€™t know how some of these smaller rescue and adoption outfits make it because [we were] constantly in the red until we connected with Philadelphia Park.”



TFH has emerged as a national model to keep thoroughbreds away from the slaughterhouse. Philadelphia Park makes a considerable yearly donation. Executive Director Barbara Luna of TFH said that both owners of horses entered in a race pay $10 each and winning jockeys automatically donate to TFH.

SJTR&A adopts 10 to 12 horses each and has a two-week waiting list. Record keeping is important for adopted horses. Hurley works with Luna to track adopted horses. For example, after six s, the new owner must present a veterinarianโ€™s report on the horseโ€™s current health and well-being.

And Hurley inspects boarding facilities and checks to be sure horses are properly shod to maintain foot health.

Hurley concluded that some racehorses wind up as horse meat. But feels she is making a difference.

“I would like to save them all,” Hurley says, “but thatโ€™s just not possible. You have to be realistic about the process. It has to be run like a business, because it is.”

Many horse at SJTR&A find homes within a week after they arrive, some within 24 hours. Some wait longer if they have injuries that need treatment.

Hurley is encouraged by the work of veterinarians who volunteer their skills, and by the support of her family.

Visit SJTR&A Facebook page (their website is being renovated) for more information and photos of horses looking for a new home.

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Pet Mom

“Horses make a landscape look beautiful”
โ€“Alice Walker

Topmost image credit: Erin Hurley and horse: Sarah Beth Glicksteen/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

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