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American Standardbred Adoption Program - La Crosse, Wisconsin

Life After Harness Racing:  Helping Standardbreds Find a Second Chance

American Standardbred Adoption Program

The American Standardbred Adoption Program (ASAP) serves to help non-racing Standardbred horses find homes nationwide.  The organization is based out of southwest Wisconsin near La Crosse, but also has foster homes in nearby Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan.  Director Susan Wellman described the typical horse that enters the program, “Most horses coming into our barn have been meticulously cared for and valued as racing athletes.  Horses average 3-5 years of age.”  Most of these horses are former harness racers that were not fast enough to compete at the ‘high dollar tracks.’  Some of them have endured brief stints as Amish buggy horses or come directly from kill pens.  (To learn more about the positive side of harness racing, check out this article.)

Once a horse enters the ASAP program, the staff or veterinarian quickly evaluates their health.  “A fecal sample can help determine if there are parasites that need to be treated.  Vets also can conduct a dental exam to see if a tooth problem could be contributing to a horse being underweight.”  Once the horse has regained health, they enter the retraining phase of rehabilitation.  Most of the Standardbreds are retrained as saddle horses with little difficulty.  Susan shared, “Retraining Standardbreds to saddle is relatively uneventful, as Standardbreds have been handled so much since they were born that they take to saddle with little or no resistance.  Driving cues may be necessary until the Standardbred learns leg cues.”

The ASAP finds potential adopters through their website and Facebook page.  The also advertise on additional social media, on Craig’s List, or at various fairs and expos throughout the year.  The main farm cares for an average of 20-25 horses at any given time.  They are always in need of donations for feed and hay throughout the year.    Susan continued, “We are always looking for foster homes that are willing to provide summer pasture or care for a horse while they are waiting for that perfect home.” 

In the 20 years of this rescue’s operation, they have been able to help many Standardbred horses.  “Our greatest successes involve any horse in need who comes to us with a broken spirit, full of fear or doubt, and to see them blossom into horses who seek you out, crave your attention, and want to give back despite what they have been through in their previous homes.”

 


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