By Mary Cage | @MaryCagePTG
The horse racing industry struggles to uphold a positive public image, with a multitude of nagging issues preventing it from escaping this shadow. Industry professionals and enthusiasts are on a mission to improve its image, and as mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, social media is a strong tool for it to do so.
But there is one horse racing-related issue in particular for which social media has already made a major difference: aftercare.
Obviously, a horse cannot spend its entire life competing in races. At some point, a racehorse’s career must end. Those who are not used for breeding stock must find a new career and new home. But doing so is not so simple. The threats of neglect, abandonment, and slaughter are dark clouds that are unfortunately sometimes waiting for racehorses at the end of their racing careers.
Thankfully, a number of nonprofit organizations exist to help these horses and to prevent these situations. There are dozens of rescue programs throughout the nation that rescue, retrain, and rehome these animals, and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance – another nonprofit – serves to accredit and fund these organizations.
But where does social media come into play? Most of these aftercare organizations are active on social media – particularly Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram – but it is not just their existence on these platforms that has changed the world of aftercare. Through sharing photos, videos, and information about horses that enter their programs, they reach a much larger audience than traditional media could ever allow them to. As a result, horses are often more quickly adopted or supported, as social media allows them to be more readily discovered by potential adopters or donors.
A number of rescue and aftercare success stories have occurred due to the power of social media. Perhaps one of the most heartwarming examples is the story of Cease, a very successful racehorse whose new owner helped him find retirement and, ultimately, a forever home with her.
Horse racing often is associated with a negative connotation, and so is social media. However, together, they have created something good: an avenue to provide horses with safe lives after racing.
Salk, S. (2016, March 23). Big winner retired after social media effort. Retrieved February 23, 2017 http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2016/03/23/big-winner-retired-after-social-media-effort/
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017 from http://www.thoroughbredaftercare.org/
Ellis Park to Host Aftercare Alliance Day July 17. (2016, July 12). Retrieved February 23, 2017 from http://www.paulickreport.com/horse-care-category/ellis-park-host-thoroughbred-aftercare-alliance-day-july-17/ (Feature photo source; photo courtesy TAA)