The Evolution of Thoroughbred Aftercare

Here’s a look at the past, present, and future of Thoroughbreds as sport horses.
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Thoroughbred aftercare
Many factors have played a role in the Thoroughbred's resurgence as a sport and pleasure mount. | Photo: Courtesy Anne Litz

After falling off its king-of-sport pedestal, this noble breed is experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

The concept of using a retired Thoroughbred racehorse for sport is nothing new. Remember these names? Keen, an American dressage legend, helped the 1976 U.S. Olympic team secure its first dressage medal since 1948—a team bronze—and represented his country again at the 1984 games.

Bally Cor, a U.S. Eventing Association Hall of Fame inductee, put her steeplechasing genes to good use earning team and individual gold at the 1975 Pan American Games, in Mexico City, team and individual gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and team bronze at the 1978 World Championships, in Lexington, Kentucky.

Then there’s Touch of Class, a U.S. Show Jumping Hall of Famer that posted the first double-clear rounds in Olympic history in 1984, earning two gold medals, and became the first nonhuman United States Olympic Committee Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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