Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we’re recognizing the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization.
Formed in 2018 by Rick Porter and Victoria Keith, the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization (NTWO), based in Lexington, KY strives to be “a comprehensive welfare organization that protects racing’s greatest asset, the horse.” Porter and Keith both have experience managing racehorses and breeding stock.
According to Keith, NTWO was “inspired by the long-running problem of racing Thoroughbreds ending up under threat of slaughter,” which, she added, has gained more visibility through social media. Keith elaborated, “I say ‘under threat of slaughter,’ because with the rise of the online horse extortion business, many of these horses aren’t bought for slaughter but to extort. They’re still in a bad situation with people or ‘kill pens’ that don’t take good care of them, but the horses we see on social media aren’t the ones at the highest risk of going to slaughter. The exact number of Thoroughbreds slaughtered remains unknown to the best of my knowledge, but it’s safe to say that thousands are sent to slaughter each year. This is unacceptable. We have a moral and ethical obligation to the horses bred for our industry.”
NTWO doesn’t pull from kill pens, said Keith. “We can take care of far more horses by getting them before they get into the slaughter pipeline than if we bought them from kill pens. Additionally, buying from kill pens encourages operators to get Thoroughbreds, which is the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.” NTWO primarily works with Louisiana, because, per Keith, “this is the area of biggest need, they have some of the most notorious kill buyers in the country, they’re geographically near Mexico, and there weren’t many aftercare options in the state.”
Once NTWO gets the horses, they’re shipped to Kentucky, where they’re assessed, given any care they need, and made available for adoption. NTWO doesn’t focus on retraining the horses they take in, preferring instead to adopt horses out to sporthorse trainers and owners, to continue quickly making room for the next set of horses coming in.
So far, NTWO has helped more than 131 horses. According to Keith, “before our [NTWO] arrival, kill buyers were extorting Thoroughbreds on an almost weekly basis. We’ve cut that number way back; we’re extremely pleased by this and consider it a great success!” Keith believes that Thoroughbred aftercare and slaughter prevention could be improved with more funding, stating, “we have plenty of organizations and people who’ll take in racing’s discarded horses; what we don’t have are the necessary funds.” To get involved with NTWO, people can donate or volunteer; NTWO, per Keith, “can use people who live in the area or live in other areas of the country, we appreciate all offers of help!”
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. 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.