Second Chances Farm
On May 14, 2009 the Second Chances Farm opened their barn doors to receive its first three retired/rescued thoroughbred race horses. This unique program is possible because of a partnership between DPSCS and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF).
The farm is the first program of its kind to be taught in the state of Maryland. Secretary Gary D. Maynard spearheaded similar programs in other states throughout his various careers within corrections. The partnership not only benefits the horses, but also the offenders who work at the site. There are infinite opportunities for program expansion to include things such as therapeutic and community outreach initiatives.
About the Program
As a Public Safety Works program, Second Chances Farm is a restorative justice tool that DPSCS hopes to utilize to give our offender population work skills while also teaching compassion through the care of a living animal. The project began in 2008 with the resurrection of a dilapidated barn and surrounding grounds near our Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Sykesville, MD by offenders in our pre-release system and Maryland Correctional Enterprises. It will eventually be home to approximately 40 horses, and will employ 15 offenders who are nearing their release from the correctional system. This project is also a natural extension of Maryland’s proud tradition in horse racing.
All aspects of this program have been funded by the generosity of donations to TRF.
About the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF)
For more than 20 years it has been TRF’s mission to rescue thoroughbred horses whose careers have come to an end and whose futures are frighteningly uncertain. It is rare that a horse will find himself competing at the Triple Crown level. More commonly, the majority of horses are consistently put on the track in the hope that they can provide a continuing stream of income for the owner. Once they can no longer produce income, they become a financial burden that few owners are willing or able to sustain.
Many times, these horses wind up at an auction where they are sold and ultimately end up in a slaughter house. Their meat in sent to foreign countries for human consumption. Annually, more than 100,000 horses face this horrible fate. This is where the TRF enters the picture. They work diligently to find foster farms which can care for the horses that are rescued. The ultimate goal is for the horses to be adopted out and re-trained as pleasure riding, polo, therapeutic and jumping horses.
The TRF Curriculum
TRF has partnered with correctional agencies in more than eight states throughout the country to implement an educational course called Groom Elite. The program provides the opportunity for qualified offenders to learn every aspect of equine care. The Groom Elite course consists of six months of classroom instruction as well as daily hands-on experience for each student. Upon successfully completing the course, the offenders can earn a Groom Elite certificate. Once they are released from incarceration, the students can pursue related careers in the horse industry. The program also provides assistance to graduates in finding employment at horse farms, training facilities, etc.
To learn more about the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation visit their website http://www.trfinc.org/.
- Md. Inmates Learn Life Skills by Helping Retired Race Horses - Baltimore Sun - 10/05/12
- Prison Inmates Operate Horse Rescue Farm - WJZ-TV 06/23/11
- Correctional Facility Helps Inmates Prepare for Life on Outside - Carroll County Times 10/20/10
- From Second Chances to recovery, moving on - The Advocate - Eldersburg and Sykesville - Online 10/05/10
- Second Chances, retired racehorses rescued from slaughter – Sunrise 09/27/10
- New life for horses ... with prisoners – CNN.com 09/18/10
- Second Chances Farm Honors First Graduate – The Advocate of Sykesville/Eldersburg 5/25/10
- Farm/Sykesville Jail Give Horses Second Chance – Carroll County Times 05/21/10
- Recovering Horses Get Unexpected Donation of Hay – WBAL TV 05/20/10
- Second Chances for Horses and Humans – Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Sept. 09 - 09/15/09
- Racing toward retirement - The Eldersburg Eagle 5/15/09
- Inmates Take Care Of Retired Race Horses Program Gives Both A Second Chance - WBAL Channel 11 05/14/09
- Farm Offers Second Chance For Horses & Inmates - WJZ - 05/14/10
- Maryland Program Benefits Retired Horses, Inmates - News 8 -05/14/09
- Inmates Care for Retired Racehorses - 05/11/09
- Farm of second chances Sykesville facility opening this week pairs convicts, retired horses - ExploreCarroll.com 05/10/09
- State eyes Sykesville for horse retirement farm - Gazette.net 04/10/08
- Corrections chief to send inmates back to the farm - The Herald Mail - 04/03/09
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
~ Winston Churchill
Meet the Horses
A Kentucky bred Thoroughbred, Poppa is our herd leader. Born in 1998, Poppa was a promising yearling whose racing career spanned 10 years.
A Thoroughbred out of West Virginia, Greekie was born in 2003. He was retired after two years of racing due to a bone fragment in his knee. Greekie is the farm’s media hound – he appeared on CNN and loves the spotlight!
The troublemaker, Red is a Thoroughbred out of Virginia who was born in 2003. Red raced for three years before retirement.
A Massachusetts bred Thoroughbred, Niles had a late start to his racing career and only raced three times. Born in 2002, Niles is always ready for a good run.
For more information on volunteer opportunities and how you can help Second Chances Farm, please contact: Program Coordinator Conni Swenson 443-552-8007
There are opportunities to sponsor any of our horses, as well as donate to the upkeep of the facility. Through your support we can impact the number of horses that can be rescued, and offenders who may be given the chance to participate in this valuable program.