An Update from After the Races

It has been almost four and a half years since I first spoke with Bonnie about After the Races. While not forever ago, this was before The Horse Fund even existed! With the passing of time, there have been many horses placed in forever homes, as well as some other big events. Let’s get the update started!

We’ll start with a quick review. Where are you located, and how many horses do you currently have at that farm?

After the Races is located in Elkton, Maryland, very close to Fair Hill Training Center. Our current facility has a 20-stall barn as well as some limited room for pasture board when weather and grass are good. So we tend to keep 20 horses consistently, with one or two extra at times.

In a typical month, how many new horses do you receive and how many are adopted out?

It completely depends on how many horses are adopted. Some months we only have 4-5 adopted, and that’s how many come in. This February we actually had eleven horses adopted, which had to be a record for February! Likewise, we had quite a few come in, with new horses arriving every week. If people follow us on social media, they’ll often see our “unboxing videos” when new horses arrive.

You also have a Recover at Home program. Can you talk about that?

Our Recover at Home program is designed for adopters who are willing and capable to take a horse home that is still undergoing rehabilitation for an injury. The best cases for these are horses who have straightforward injuries and/or recoveries and just need time and gradual increase of exercise. At times it’s even horses who are getting turned out but just have several months of turnout prescribed as their tendons finish healing with Mother Nature’s help. We know there are plenty of amazing adopters out there that are not only willing but are excited to take on a horse that needs that extra care or downtime before they start riding them. It’s a great way to really bond with and get to know the horse before you ever get on its back and is a very rewarding process for many. 

While we know this program is not for everyone, we try to reward those who choose to go this route with some training support when it comes time for their horse to return to work. If the adopter keeps up with us and shows the rehabilitation plan was followed, we will reimburse up to $500 in training fees for that horse. Usually these horses also have reduced adoption fees while in rehabilitation. It’s a win-win all around for the adopters who are set up to work with these horses.

You are a busy aftercare facility, but in addition to all of the horse care, on New Year’s Eve you learned that After the Races was going to need a new home. What is the current status of your home?

Unfortunately, we did get the call on New Year’s Eve that our landlord would be putting the farm up for sale. After the Races has called this farm home for 7 years. This farm was in fact built from the ground up for us to move into, so it was devastating news. We immediately launched into a massive capital campaign and the response to our need has been amazing. Our fans and the After the Races family have really stepped up and so far we have raised nearly $330,000. That was within 5-6 weeks of our announcement. So, to say we’ve been both humbled and blown away by the support is an understatement. While a large part of those donations were what we call “grass roots” donations, or donations under $1,000, we have had several racing connections and others come through with as much as $50,000 donations at a time, which has really propelled us toward reaching our goal.

Unfortunately, it seems our landlord just used our interest in the farm to get other interested parties to raise their offers on the farm. Even though we were told we would have first right of refusal to match an offer, when we did match that first offer, he responded by saying that offer went up. Clearly this is not how a right of first refusal is supposed to work. After some back and forth we decided it’s not worth it to play games just because he sees us as a captive audience.

So we have actively been looking at other properties, two of which are serious contenders for our next home. While we can’t go into too many details, both farms would allow for almost an IMMEDIATE expansion of our program with much more room to take in rehabilitative cases, as well as more room to let horses let down, transition, and begin their retraining. Even though this process started in a really painful place, I truly believe it is leading After the Races to its forever home.

If you follow us on social media, we’ve been a bit quiet lately when it comes to the capital campaign to give people a little break because we know we have a REALLY big donation coming in soon for the sole purpose of matching donations toward our capital campaignSo I hope people reading this will get ready and really consider donating when that time comes. It will both make your donation go twice as far and ultimately end with After the Races having around half a million in the bank, ready to move forward with nearly any farm purchase in our area. We could not be more excited to announce this matching opportunity when the time comes. Please sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already and follow us on social media for more information.

You have run an incredible fundraising campaign. What can people do to help support your quest for a permanent home?

Right now, follow us on social media and SUBSCRIBE to the newsletter on our website. You can subscribe right on our homepage This is where we will be announcing upcoming matching opportunities for donations, as well as events that are being planned for further fundraising purposes. While we will have some smaller, local events that are worth learning about, in September we are going to be hosting THE BIGGEST equine charity gala in the country in 2024, which is no exaggeration. It will be at Martin’s West in Baltimore and will include a full plated dinner, open bar, a live DJ, and, of course, raffles and silent auctions. It will also include a LIVE auction where people can bid on and take home amazing trips to locations across the globe as well as items like high end jewelry, sports memorabilia, and much, much more. We already have attendees reserving tables that will be flying in from Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, and other states so you do NOT have to be local to attend this event. There are two adjacent hotels and an airport 20 minutes away.

As of this interview, we have not yet opened ticket sales, but have been getting inundated with requests for tables at the event. Because of this we have started a reservation list for people who can fill tables of 10. Without any advertising, we have already reserved more than 30% of our tables and have secured five sponsors, so if you have any interest in helping After the Races exceed even our own expectations for this event, be sure to reach out to us about how to reserve tables, how to be a sponsor, and/or how to donate items of all kinds to our auctions and raffles. And, of course, continue donating directly to the cause if that’s what you feel led to do. While we will have opportunities to match donations, there is no “hitting pause” on this capital campaign, and donations can be made easily through our website.

I can’t express enough just how excited I am for everything that is in store for After the Races. Since the beginning, I have poured so much of my blood, sweat, and tears into seeing After the Races grow and succeed, starting with a foundation of absolute honesty and transparency about everything from how our operation works to the ins and outs of every single horse we are fortunate enough to transition toward their next career. This reputation has led to over 900 horses being placed in adoptive homes throughout all of the United States as well as into Canada and even the Bahamas! With every new phone call or email offering support to After the Races in this time, I have gone from a place of worry and despair to absolute excitement about After the Races’ future. I am looking forward to finally being able to close on a property and know that After the Races is safe and a new facility will be secured that can help the next 900 horses.

If people want to support After the Races via volunteer work, are there any available

In general, if you’re local and would like to volunteer at the farm and with the horses, you can find information on how to become a volunteer on our website. If you are not local and still wish to volunteer, After the Races is always looking for people who want to donate professional time and services. Whether you’re a lawyer, a florist, an artist, an accountant, an event coordinator, a journalist, or simply someone with good connections, we would love to hear from you!

Can you share a story about a horse who left a special mark at ATR?

This is an easy question for me right now. After the Races has a safety net in place that is available to absolutely any horse who has been through the After the Races program, even if that horse has changed hands in any way since the initial adoption. There is no greater testament to this than when we got the call last year that one of our very first ATR horses, Miss Fuzzi Diamond, a 22 year old, West Virginia-bred mare, was in need of rehoming. Fuzzi was one of three horses who were the first After the Races ever took in, back in the fall of 2010. Even then she was a gem to work with, so incredibly kind, and so easy. Anyone could hop on and enjoy riding her around on the trails or around the farm. She was even the victim of a slashing attack when we were in Pottstown (reported to police of course, who said it was not an isolated event!). Almost 500 stitches later, she was on the mend and soon after adopted.

She was adopted first by a young rider, then given to a neighbor without our consent. Thankfully this neighbor contacted ATR when their other horse died, and Fuzzi needed a new home. I immediately drove to her, cleaned her up, took some pictures, and then called one of my adopters on my drive home. I told her she needed this horse, and I would deliver her myself if she said yes. She stayed with that adopter for many years, as a lesson horse, as an eventing superstar, and eventually just her lovely pleasure horse before life changes forced her to part with her. Though we would have taken her back happily at any of these points, she again found a home, but it wasn’t too long before that home realized they couldn’t meet her needs. At that point I all but screamed there were no options. She had to come back to us. 

She would have a spot here at ATR however long she needed it, even if that were for life. We would never force her out. Fuzzi, for the second time in ATR history, became a barn favorite of every single person that crossed her path. She was underweight and not looking her best on arrival but after some quick diagnostics she was diagnosed with cushings and put on medication and a diet that had her looking her best again. She was even VERY happy to go “back to work” which mostly involved happily carrying volunteers or staff members around for walks in the ring or through the woods on the farm. Even though it wasn’t much, Fuzzi thrived on attention, loved to be groomed, saddled, and to “have a job.” 

While we were completely prepared to keep Fuzzi here for the rest of her life, we did happen to have the perfect adopter come along for her. Katelyn found Fuzzi in our posts on social media, and even though she was all the way up in Massachusetts, she felt a tug at her heart. Katelyn had unfortunately lost her heart horse of many years not long before and didn’t really know if she was ready for another until she saw Fuzzi and it all just came together. She made the drive down to Maryland to meet her in person, and it was kismet. Katelyn was more than willing to take on her medical needs and embrace Fuzzi as her new best friend. My Facebook feed is often peppered with selfies of Katelyn sitting on the ground with Fuzzi’s face right there, bright, alert, and clearly enamored with her person. While Fuzzi was much loved here, she clearly is thriving again having her very own person, and I can’t be happier for her. 

Katelyn had a few notes of her own to add.

Life with Fuzzi has been exactly what I needed. She is an honest, kind, soulful horse that has the most wonderful quirks and personality. Fuzzi has been nicknamed Cookie Monster at the farm because she will search any pockets for treats, but is so incredibly gentle and loves to give kisses. I’m thankful for After the Races for uniting me with my heart horse and giving me the opportunity to give her a forever home in her senior years.”

I highly encourage you to visit their website and learn even more about After the Races. They are a fabulous aftercare organization with whom we have been fortunate to work.