by Victoria Howard
They say we all are assigned a guardian angel to watch over and protect us. Well, I believe that animals have one, too.
These angels are the adoption agencies that save retired horses or horses who can no longer race, such as: the Standardbred Horse Adoption, American Adoption Program, Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Purple Haze Standardbred Foundation, Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society, Sunshine Horses, New Vocations, and Trot-Trot Standardbreds, to name a few.
These establishments offer retiring racehorses a new purpose when their racing days come to an end. The people who work there are dedicated to retrain and eventually adopt out these ex-athletes.
The people are committed to rescue, rehabilitate, retrain and re-home these wonderful animals, while enriching the lives of people who take them in.
Unfortunately, due to an injury or a horse unable to compete, many of these animals end up in a kill pen, shortening their life when there is so much more they can do.
This issue’s superstar is a young woman name Brielle Roman, who dedicates her life to rescuing and adopting out our loyal four-legged friends.
Born in New Jersey, Roman did not come from a horsey family, but that didn’t cease the desire to be around and work with horses.
“I have loved horses from birth. I’m not sure exactly where that came from, but as a baby my parents could never tell if I was crying or neighing.
“After years begging my parents, I started taking riding lessons with my sisters at a backyard stable. Although my siblings lost interest fairly quickly, I persevered.
“I worked at a young age for the opportunity to ride and learn whatever I could, as my parents’ support was minimal.
“I grew up riding hunters/jumpers and many off track thoroughbreds.
“I always had a love for horse racing and sometimes I would go to Freehold Raceway, which wasn’t far from my home. But other than that, I had zero experience with standardbred horses.
“That was, until 2016 when I acquired a standardbred foal to keep her from going to the auction. I named her Witch Hazel (Hazel) and she turned into an amazing show horse and partner.
“This would be the start of my love for standardbreds and helping to save as many as I could.
“Initially, I was skeptical, for I was told standardbreds were ‘no good jug heads’ that could not canter, but Hazel sure proved them all wrong.
“Her incredible intelligence, sturdiness, and attitude, won me over and I became very interested in this ‘underdog’ breed that many people had talked down on.
“I‘ve always loved the underdogs, so this led me to work at a standardbred rescue where I saddle broke and adopted out hundreds of standardbreds.
“I continued to be amazed at the horse’s willingness to learn and please, and amazingly enough to forgive.
“To better understand how to properly retrain these horses I needed to learn more about the breed, so I took a job as a groom and discovered a never-ending love for harness racing as well.
“I worked for trainer Gary Candell at the Takter farm where I groomed horses such as SUNFIRE BLUE CHIP and GREAT VINTAGE. One of the horses I cared for was a trotter named STORMING MIST, who I later tracked down and bought back from the Amish. Today, STORMING MIST is a very successful show horse.
“I also worked for Chris Ryder.
“After working at the track I connected to a lot of people involved with racing and began getting flooded with requests to take horses off the track and adopt them out.
“Initially, I was apprehensive to make the leap taking horses in full time (for financial reasons), but my love and desire to help the horses overcame my fear.
“The word got out and it’s been a steady stream ever since. I spent so much time promoting the horses to a second career and keep them from ending up in a kill pen, I figured it was time to step up to the plate and devote every minute to it.
“Some of the horses I have placed are ROCKIN ROCKO, PITTSTOP KIP, COLD CERTIFIED, TAYLORLANE CRUISER, POP ART K, KATHY’S CHAMP, MUSCLES OVER HALL and SCOOTER SHOP.”
Roman explained the process in training an ex-racehorse for a second career and how these lucky equines come to her.
“Usually I’m contacted by a trainer or owner asking if I can take on the horse and find it a good home, and rehab if needed. Occasionally, I do get some from the kill pen, like POP ART K who I rescued, for he was LUCKY’s brother.
“When I get a horse I first gather as much information on them as I can — especially about prior injuries as these can limit what a horse can safely do.
“I evaluate the horse as far as his temperament and movement (if they are smooth or bouncy). I develop him into a career he enjoys and can succeed at, making him an enjoyable, safe, well-rounded horse until the right situation comes up for him.
“Once the new owner is approved, I schedule a visit for them to come visit and see if the two connect.
“I’m all about educating, promoting and retraining of the standardbred horse and the proper use in a second career.
“I have a Facebook group that has now reached 12,000 members where we share tips and tricks on retraining. We have found tons of horses new homes, helped track down someone’s ex-horse and have connected people to their horse in question’s conditions —besides making hundreds of new friends with horse lovers.
“Currently I’m enhancing my veterinary knowledge, working as a vet tech at Colts Neck Equine. I’m also working on getting my trainer’s license — all I have left is to finish the testing process. I’m super excited about this.
“Presently, I own three horses; my two show horses, Hazel and Stormy, and Lucky (Luck N Roll K) who currently races and helps support the adoptable horses.”
Roman is never too busy to help these horses. In fact, she was the one that contacted the USTA and drafted the initial proposal for the new Standardbred Incentive Program (SIP).
“We all need to work together for the benefit of the common denominator and give back to the wonderful standardbred horse who gives so much to us!”
For more information you can contact Brielle Roman at: firstname.lastname@example.org.