About Us Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River
More Than 30 Years of Happy Endings

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation was founded in 1983 with one purpose in mind -- To save Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse, and slaughter.

Since its inception, the program has grown to 22 facilities housing 1,200 horses. Horses live at both correctional facilities as well traditional farm settings. In each, they are assured of a lifetime of care, with the opportunity -- if suited -- to be adopted out.

The prison programs are good for horses and the offenders. One offender said, after seeing his name in an article about the program, “I’ve never been in the paper for anything good.” And the coordinator at James River says that seeing the “bond between the horses and the men is enough to make you believe that change is possible.”

Today, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is the world's largest, best known, and most respected charitable organization devoted to equine rescue.

The work of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is supported by the James River Chapter and its Board.

Patti’s Storm being crowned Miss TRF 2011 at Colonial Downs on June 23, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Debby Thomas - Art and Animal Photography

Greener Pastures: A Second Chances Program

People helping horses – Horses helping people
Imagine a place where people and animals come together to help each other. Horses adjusting to a new life of retirement following a busy career in racing. Prison inmates working to acquire a valuable skill to put them a step ahead when they return to the job market. Both sides with a lot to learn. Both sides with a lot to give. Both sides with a lot to gain.

Such a place exists in Central Virginia at the James River Work Center (JRWC) in Goochland County. In 2007, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Virginia Department of Corrections established a public-private partnership to provide rehabilitation and training for offenders, using ex-racehorses.

The horses living at JRWC have acres of rolling grassland, barns and run-in sheds, a horse-knowledgeable supervisor, and a group of carefully selected inmates to care for them. Local professional horsemen and -women volunteer their time to help supervise the herd and provide supplemental training for the inmates.

Offenders selected from a pool of applicants are assigned to the program for a specific period of training, during which they care for the horses on a daily basis – leading in and out, mucking stalls, grooming, feeding, doing round-pen work. This hands-on experience is complemented by classroom training in equine nutrition, physiology, tack and stable management. The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation uses the Groom Elite curriculum, developed by Reid McLellan, Ph.D., and taught at racetracks. Graduates become certified, and the Foundation assists them, upon their release, in finding jobs in the horse industry.

With the Second Chances Program, TRF JRC supports the eduation and job-skills training of participants, assisting with participants' rehabilitation and employment efforts, during and following participation in the Program. A recent graduate found the Program helpful commenting, "Thanks for the TRF program for the prisons. I recently left and graduated from the TRF of JRWC, Va. It taught me a lot about horses and the care of them. Again I say thanks." With your support, TRF JR is able to fund the Second Chances Program, assisting participants and graduates from several classes each year.

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation James River Chapter 2015 Board Members

A sixteen member board of volunteers directs the James River Second Chances program, and the Deep Run Hunt Club very graciously donates their clubhouse for quarterly meetings. The program is further supported by many other volunteers from the equestrian community of Goochland and surrounding counties.

Stephanie Nixon, President
Polly BauhanTom McCarty
Jennifer BerdellThomas Newton, DVM
Norman BregmanJanis Paiva
Karen FowlerScott Richeson
Barbara GadenDebby Thomas
Pam JohnsonAnne Tucker
Lisa KellerRobin Williams
Jane Kelly 

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation James River Chapter Directions

The James River chapter of TRF is located at the James River Work Center in Goochland County, just a few miles west of Crozier on route 6. There are signs at the driveway and a banner during the open barn. After you turn into the drive, proceed to barn 4, down the hill to your left. Visitors must have prior approval other than during the open barn.

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The TRF is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, funded entirely by donations from the general public,
private grant sources and the Thoroughbred racing industry. All contributions are fully tax deductible.
Copyright © 2012 James River Horses