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Wanted: a few good pastures

TRF seeks foster homes for horses

Posted: November 8, 2011 5:05 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2011 5:00 a.m.

In 1982, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) set out on an ambitious mission -- to save retired racehorses of a lifetime of possible neglect, abuse and slaughter.

Thousands of horses have been saved during the past 30 years, and the foundation currently cares for more than 1,000 racehorses at 30 satellite farms.

But now, they need your help.

“It has been determined that (the TRF) has over 1,100 horses across the country, and the money to support them is harder to come by,” said William Cox Jr. of Camden, president of the S.C. Committee of TRF. “So we’re asking people to participate in our foster program. Instead of being obligated to adopt a horse, people can foster-parent one or two horses, or even more, for a year.”

The Foster Partners program relieves the TRF of its obligation for payment to private farms for general care.

Locally, as many as 150 horses in South Carolina need to be adopted -- including 110 horses at a private farm in Sumter, 40 horses at a private farm in Anderson County and 10 horses at a private farm in Lexington County.

“This is a program for people with extra pasture space. These are pasture horses … they’re pasture ornaments. The TRF will reimburse foster parents for veterinary bills and blacksmithing,” Cox said. “Of course, if people chose to not ask to be reimbursed for these costs, that would also be a big help.”

The TRF, Cox added, is funded entirely by private donations. But with the downturn of the economy, the foundation, like many other charities, saw its donations drop dramatically.

By having volunteers agree to keep horses in their pastures, Cox said, the TRF will be able to save money for the future. Each horse in foster care is estimated to save the TRF $2,000 annually.

“We’ll continue to receive money, but it will be saved for the future. Money is going hand to mouth -- this program will allow TRF to gain some operating cushion. There’s not a good surplus in case donations dry up completely,” he added. “The mission of this organization is to give these horses somewhere to go so that they won’t have to face a lifetime of neglect. The adoption program is still out there, but if people want to temporarily try it out, then the foster program would probably be better for them.”

For more information on TRF and its programs, visit the national chapter at www.trfinc.org or the local chapter at www.trfsc.org.

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