About the Breed
"The Brainiac Breed"
Standardbred Retirement Foundations Mission Statement
SRF provides humane care and services for horses in need of lifetime homes, and in crisis, through rehabilitation, training, adoption, lifelong follow-up, or lifetime sanctuary; and offers therapeutic equine opportunities for children, and adults.
History of the Standardbred Retirement Foundation
The SRF was created in 1989 by Mrs. Judith Bokman, wife of a prominent Equine Practitioner in New Jersey, Dr. Stephen Bokman DVM. She contacted Mrs. Paula Campbell, wife of Hall of Fame Standardbred driver, John Campbell. She too realized the need and joined Mrs. Bokman in the development of the SRF.
Why is SRF Needed
Standardbred racehorses that are no longer competitive or unable to be bred, are sold to dealers. These dealers are generally from rural communities. One may think these horses are offered good homes this way, but these broodmares are usually in their 20's, and the racehorses are sore, lame or injured. Those physically able to be resold for use as machinery or as transportation on asphalt streets, where they are most always asked to work beyond their physical ability, will live very hard lives. (Race horses are usually not retired if sound, therefore, it makes sense that they cannot perform this hard work.) People in these rural areas generally regard their animals as equipment. When these horses reach their mid teens they turn them over for fresh ones, as there is never a shortage of horses from the tracks. These used up trotters and pacers are then resold at livestock auctions. There, the primary buyer purchases them for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.
The few race horses ending their careers coming to SRF directly from the track usually need rest and rehabilitation These lovely animals often become wonderful riding, driving, eventing, police mounts, therapeutic riding or trail horses once SRF rests and rehabilitates them and gets them under saddle. Information on horses right off the track is compiled from the treating veterinarian and trainer so a proper placement can be made and no horse is asked to perform beyond its physical ability. Racehorse owners are asked to help, in a few situations, if this is not possible, SRF will take on the horse. Some retire from racing with injuries too catastrophic to allow them to transition into new careers. These live out their lives with SRF. SRF has 215 such horses. Although horse racing is a multi-billion dollar business, the Standardbred racing industry has made no provisions to support these grand horses when their racing careers come to an end.
Helping Standardbreds in Dire Situations
SRF has the wonderful help from a group of volunteers with a page on Face Book, Save Our Standardbreds From Slaughter (SOSS). This group learns of Standardbreds, as we mentioned above, tagged to ship to slaughter in Canada and Mexico. Even young trotters and pacers are found in these situations. They reach out to past relationships in racing to seek support for the horse, whether it is to take the horse back into their possession, or assist financially to prevent slaughter. These are past owners, and the breeder (Approximately, 15% are reunited with past connections from their racing years.) Most of these horses come to SRF after the volunteers raise the funds needed to get them released from these situations. While a small percent are healthy and just unwanted, the majority are injured and sick. The most common injuries are dropped suspensory ligaments from over stressing legs either from racing or most often from being used as machinery in the rural communities; they are emaciation; sick; have fresh injuries from overcrowded kill pens; fractures; nasal tumors; blindness. and other life concerning issues.
Horses from kill pens are assessed as best as can be done at that location to determine physical care needed, a facility to board that can provide for specific needs is then decided. (SRF does not own a farm and uses boarding services in many areas-appx. 35 facilities.) Most horses that can travel, but appear to need veterinary care will often go to the NJ leased farm where Dr. Bokman donates his services and medications. This is his gift since 1989.
Since 2017, more than 3000 horses have been helped by this group and SRF together.
Sadly, due to pain or illness preventing quality of life, at the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian, SRF submits to humanely euthanizing a horse by a veterinarian. Generally the cost for the veterinarian and renderer is $500.
Approximately 80% of its funding comes from donations. Less than 4% comes from harness racing organizations, less than 4% from grants, 12% from fund raising events. SRF receives just $250 annually from an endowment, one of the greatest needs it has to continue this work.
SRF is Different-How
SRF is the model program since 1989, but every program is different.
Horse ownership remains with SRF for life so no horse is ever at risk again. This also provides SRF with the freedom to step in if ever needed and remove a horse whose adopted care situation is lacking.
SRF also requires all adopted horses to have a Vet Follow-up Form submitted semi-annually. It recommends that adopters do this at the time of spring and fall vaccinations. This forms assures that the care remains adequate.
SRF welcomes questions and visits. The farms SRF uses are owned by individuals, SRF does not own a farm. A visit can be scheduled in as quickly as a day, but an SRF representative must accompany guests.
SRF's federal tax returns can be accessed on the internet or requested at any time.
SRF is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization