Longrun Thoroughbred Retirement Society

Recently, I was able to speak with Vicki Pappas, chairperson and founding partner of Longrun, a TAA-accredited aftercare organization. Read on to learn more about this terrific program.

Where is Longrun Thoroughbred Retirement Society based?

Longrun’s administrative offices are on the backstretch of Woodbine. We also own a hundred acre farm in Hillsburgh, which is where most of our horses live. We have sixty to seventy horses at any one time, between our farm and the foster farms. 

How did your program begin?

The original board was comprised of people involved in the Thoroughbred industry- owners, trainers, breeders, exercise riders, etc. They were horse lovers concerned about finding a way to provide retirements for horses. We came together twenty-one years ago and got our charitable license. We consolidated the efforts that we had been doing as individuals. In the fall of 2017 we bought the Hillsburgh farm.

What makes Longrun unique?

We take care of the most decorated horse in Canadian racing history, Pink Lloyd, who was the 2017 horse of the year. 

Longrun is an all-service facility. We offer a combination of sanctuary to horses, due to age or physicality, and also have horses like Pink Lloyd, who are stable stars. Some of these are financially supported by the people they raced for. We also have horses come to us on rehab, who hopefully will be adoptable down the road. Although we don’t call ourselves a rescue, we have rescued a few.

Additionally, we do therapy work with the horses and members of our community. The Haven helps emergency response workers who are experiencing troubles, like PTSD. They came to the farm for two one-week periods last year and conducted equine therapy programs with our horses. We get visits from Big Brother/Big Sister. Also, we have done tours with Girls, Inc., where we get female professionals (like a vet, jockey, horse artist, breeder) to do demos for the girls. 

We also host a lot of open houses. We suggest a $20 donation per person and encourage people to bring carrots and mints.

What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?

Most horses come directly off the track. Our Executive Director, Sarah Bowen, and I know most of the horsepeople. The trainers or owners speak with us to see if there is room. Then they fill out a form with health and behavioral information. Sarah, a former vet tech, and I look at each horse to evaluate them physically and mentally. We don’t turn many of them down. The horse is then shipped to the farm. 

Do you work with other locations or farms in your program?

We work with a couple foster farms, which was the original plan. We were able to consolidate when a patron left enough money to buy the farm

Do you require new owners to do reporting?

Horses are adopted on a year trial basis. The new owner cannot sell the horse or move to another facility without our permission during that trial year. Prior to the adoption we do a site inspection and check references (vet, blacksmith). We always encourage adopters to send updates. 

In 2023 we held our first graduate show. Our former horses came to the farm and competed in many disciplines, including hunter and dressage. A lot of former owners and trainers came to watch them perform. We had sponsors who provided prize money and gifts. We will have one again on October 19, 2024.

How many horses have gone through your program?

Over 1,000 horses have gone through our program. Our mandate limits us to horses coming off track or injured on track and rehabbed by the owner. If there are requests outside the mandate, we may assist in advertising a horse or doing due diligence in interested future owners. Sometimes we will offer interim financial assistance. An example of that is Mareworthy, who had a mare that raced in Canada. We sent financial assistance to help with that horse. 

How does Longrun receive funding?

We receive mandatory funding from purses and currently receive .5% of the purse money issued in Ontario. We also are well supported by the racing community and horse lovers. Longrun holds fundraisers, such as the ladies lunch at Woodbine, which sold out with over 135 registrants.

Do you have a story about a horse that we can share with our readers?

Pink Lloyd! His best friend is champion 2 year old Riker, who was found running in a $5,000 claiming race in Ohio. He was slated to go to Puerto Rico. The racing secretary in Fort Erie, Jackie Eder, saw Riker running. She convinced his owner to retire him, and now he’s Pinkie’s best friend.

If people want to help your program, what can they do?

We are glad to accept donations

Take good care of your horses, and retire them sound. 

To read an interview with another aftercare organization, please click here.