Friday Standing Ovation: Finger Lakes Finest

Each week HN and Ovation Riding applaud an organization that is doing good work in the horse world. Today we recognize Finger Lakes Finest.

Top photo: “Darkness Falls” purchased in 2011 competing in Genesee Valley horse trials

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At this point, the trend of adopting ex-racing Thoroughbreds and turning them into sport horses, show horses and pleasure horses can officially be called a movement–there are dozens of adoption agencies, rescues and groups working to find forever homes for the overwhelming numbers of horses leaving the track each year, specializing in everything from laying up injuries, rehoming former champions, saving only slaughter-bound cases, and so on.

Finger Lakes Finest works a little bit differently–this non-profit serves as a middleman agency, helping the interested public get directly in communication with owners and trainers for the purchase of Thoroughbreds from Finger Lakes Track in Farmington, New York (just outside of Rochester in the western part of the state.) Through the efforts of volunteers who visit the track to photograph individual horses as well as video them jogging in-hand, Finger Lakes Finest (FLF) maintains an extensive database of available horses at http://fingerlakesfinesttbs.com. Contact information for trainers or owners is listed for each horses along with an asking price and numerous photographs. While the organizing volunteers include their own hopes and opinions on the page for each horse, they maintain that they offer their opinions only as equine professionals, not as warranties for the horses.

FLF also provides advice on the site about pre-purchase exams (with the contact information for veterinarians in the area) as well as shipping information. Volunteers will also happily escort potential buyers around the track to help them meet trainers and horses. Working in symphony with other adoption groups (including the often-confused Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program) they’ve built a powerful network of OTTB groups, which has proven itself useful in helping to rehome individual horses, often with special needs. FLF has worked recently to rehome previously-purchased horses who wound up in dire straits, and does its best to stay in touch with purchased horses to avoid this situation happening more frequently.

FLF emphasizes that it is not really an adoption agency–the group will do everything it can to help facilitate the purchasing of horses off the track and help follow up with those horses in their new homes. However, as foundation president Lucinda Finley states, “I think when one starts out doing just a trainer listing service, it is inevitable that your heart and desire to help as many horses as you can starts pulling an organization in the direction of working to do more direct rehab/retraining/adoption work.” FLF is currently working to expand its services to begin retraining before purchase by private owners, especially for horses that are not immediately adoptable. This group includes horses with injuries that will heal completely but require a long lay-up, as well as intact colts and stallions who should be gelded. These kinds of horses are not often attractive to potential buyers, who typically want to jump right in with retraining. As a not-for-profit organization, FLF can accept tax-deductible donations to help further its work in helping Thoroughbreds.

Success stories include:

x-country log GVRDC Aug. 2012

“Darkness Falls,” mare purchased from listings in 2001, here competing at Genesee Valley trials in 2012 (less than 1 year off the track)

Offshore Score horse show JUne 2014

“Offshore Score” purchased in 2012, showing in hunters

Isamu (Ruthie) dressage with Bre

“Isamu” purchased in 2013, showing in hunters and schooling dressage

(All photos courtesy of Lucinda Finley and used with permission.)

Browse the listings and look for your next prospect!

Go Thoroughbreds, Go Ovation, and Go Riding!

If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected] Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

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