Caroline Betts, a professor at USC is founder of the all-volunteer Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue, which has some of the most beautiful Thoroughbred horses we have ever seen. Her gorgeous horses can be seen in show rings and on pleasure trails throughout California, yet their lives have not always been so certain. "The average price of our horses that sold at prestigious yearling sales as racing prospects was in excess of $100 thousand," Betts said. But at the end of their careers, "the average livestock auction price of our horses is approximately $185."

Who are these poor creatures, once worth hundreds of thousands of dollars only to end up at low-end auctions at selling prices so low they are at risk of being bought for shipment to Mexico for slaughter?

"Each year, approximately 2,000 Thoroughbred racehorses leave California's racetracks at the conclusion of their pari-mutuel racing careers," Betts said. "Many have sustained injuries that preclude further running or extensive athletic activity, and others simply were too 'slow' to race. Others leave Thoroughbred breeding, layup and training farms when they, or their offspring, are no longer commercially viable. In addition, some Thoroughbreds that initially find private homes following their racing or breeding career are subsequently no longer useful to their owners, have owners whose circumstances change, or owners who no longer want them.” After their racing careers, some horses are lucky and their trainers and owners find them suitable new homes. Others flounder, sometimes in pain or lame, selling at auctions where their prices are often low enough to allow them to be shipped across the border to be slaughtered and ultimately sold as meat in Europe.

It is for this latter group that Caroline and her wonderful team intervene whenever they can. In their capable hands the horses are retrained or, if permanently disabled, retired. Retraining a horse takes months, and retiring Thoroughbreds is an extremely expensive process – horses need veterinary care, shoeing, feed and expensive stabling. Since horses often live well into their 20s or 30s, charities might incur these expenses for as many as 25 years. Ongoing costs can be devastating.

Jill Milan donates a portion of proceeds to SCTR. Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue also receives grants from other charities such as ASPCA but is still constantly in need of funds. If you would like to learn more about SCTR, please see their site at www.sctbrescue.org. And if you could spare a little change, I know they would be very grateful!

Here are a few stories about Caroline’s beautiful horses.

Not Horsing Around: A Non-Profit We LoveNot Horsing Around: A Non-Profit We Love

Ashland Rose (born 1989) raced 26 times earning $102,775. After racing Ashland was a broodmare, foaling her last baby in April 2007, and was next seen at a low-end auction in Mira Loma in November 2009. There she was purchased by a rescue organization to prevent her from shipping to slaughter. She was subsequently surrendered to SCTR in April 2010. This is her condition upon arrival at SCTR.

Bottom: Very hard to believe this is the same 24-year-old horse months later at SCTR. Sometimes it’s astounding what great nutrition and care can do for even the most elderly of horses.

Not Horsing Around: A Non-Profit We LoveNot Horsing Around: A Non-Profit We Love

Noble Gambler was admitted to SCTR following his breakdown during his second race at the age of 4 at Hollywood Park in July 2008. Gambler is a huge horse and had essentially destroyed his suspensory apparatus. The vet recommended application of a gel cast for a period of time. Gambler, however, reacted badly to the blistering agent in the casts and they were subsequently unable to be used.

Gambler has survived a lengthy rehab and remained a very cheerful horse. But he is unlikely to ever be pasture sound and will need to be maintained in a relatively small paddock or large corral. Gambler is currently living with a group of SCTR horses at the family farm of a volunteer in Moreno Valley, and receives visitors and fans there. He's an incredibly gentle, friendly horse and we're proud to have him healthy and with us.

Gambler upon arrival at SCTR in 2008 - left front leg is the injured one, note the angle of left front pastern and size of the ankle area.

Bottom: Gambler with Caroline Betts. Although he will never be sound, he will enjoy a lengthy retirement under SCTR’s care.

Not Horsing Around: A Non-Profit We Love

Some of Southern California’s horses just need new homes.

Rosa Rugosa (born 2001) – "Rosa" needs a new home. Rosa is a beautiful, very solidly built, approximately 15.3h.h. dark bay mare who raced 23 times, retired from racing in mid 2006, and was rescued at auction in January 2010 to prevent her from shipping to slaughter.

To see more of Caroline’s adoptable horses, please go to: www.sctbrescue.org/Adoptable_Horses.html

To help support a horse who is permanently retired, please see: www.sctbrescue.org/Retired_Horses.html