Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Retired Racehorse Project & Keeneland

Every week Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to recognize those doing good in the horse world. Today we recognize the Retired Racehorse Project and Keeneland for their equine welfare initiatives.

In an effort to further promote equine safety, the Retired Racehorse has announced new welfare initiatives for this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover.

One of the 2019 horses being examined by a member of the staff at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

Last year the RRP instituted the Arrival Exam at the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, which required each horse to have proof of current vaccinations, vitals (temperature, respiration, etc.) within a normal range, be scanned for a microchip that has been registered with The Jockey Club, pass a walking soundness exam and score a four or higher on the Henneke Body Condition Scale, the industry standard for assessing a horse’s condition and fat coverage (you can read about the exam’s implementation here).

For 2020, the RRP is building upon the success of the Arrival Exam, by instituting a jog for all Thoroughbred Makeover Finale qualifiers, during which the top five finishers from each of the 10 disciplines offered will be asked to present their horses in-hand at the jog for a ground jury consisting of at least two veterinarians and the chief steward the day prior to competing in their respective discipline championships.

Joining the effort to support equine welfare initiatives is Keeneland, which will be the sponsor for the Arrival Exam and the Finale Jog.

Dr. Shannon Reed evaluating a swollen knee. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

“So much time, effort, patience, skill, money and more goes into bringing a young Thoroughbred, whether it’s leading up to their first race or after their final start as they are being retrained for a new career,” said Jen Roytz, executive director for the RRP. “Keeneland and the Retired Racehorse Project are committed to setting the standard for equine welfare and safety of these athletes in their on-track careers and off, and initiatives like these will continue to help us raise the profile of Thoroughbreds in the sport horse world.”

As competitors prepare for the Thoroughbred Makeover, the RRP provides educational resources throughout the year leading up to the event, including interactive webinars with veterinarians and nutritionists and educational videos and articles. The RRP’s consulting veterinarian, Dr. Shannon Reed, also makes herself available as a resource for trainers throughout the year, answering questions and helping to connect competitors with appropriate resources and support in their local equestrian communities. Part of the goal of the equine welfare initiatives instituted by the RRP is to help educate horse owners so that they may provide the best care possible for their horses.

Dr. Shannon Reed preparing paperwork with one of the 2019 competitors. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

“Keeneland is pleased to support the outstanding work of the Retired Racehorse Project and the Thoroughbred Makeover in showcasing these talented horses,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Keeneland is committed to the safety and welfare of horse and rider, not just on the race track but in all disciplines. We applaud the Arrival Exam and the Finale Jog, two industry-leading initiatives that promote healthy second careers for these equine athletes.”

The 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7 through Saturday, October 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. The RRP announced earlier this year that 616 entries from 41 states and five Canadian provinces have been accepted into the competition for 2020, and their training journeys with their recently retired racehorses will be chronicled on the RRP website and social media platforms, as well as in racing, equestrian and mainstream media outlets nationally.

The blue bridle sticker indicates a horse has passed its vet check. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

About the Retired Racehorse Project
The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds and build the bridges to second careers. It publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, hosts the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, maintains the Retired Racehorse Resource Directory, manages the online Thoroughbred Sport Tracker, and presents programs at major horse expos across the country. Visit the RRP online at

About the Keeneland Association
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November, and its sales graduates dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and will hold the event again on Nov. 6-7, 2020. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a privately held company with a not-for-profit mission that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. Keeneland also maintains the Keeneland Library, a world-renowned public research institution with the mission of preserving information about the Thoroughbred industry. To learn more, visit

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.