A Void for Horse Rescue in Florida is Filled

It’s people like Barbi Moline that are the true saviors of the Thoroughbred world and what it represents. Moline was recently named the winner of this year’s Dogwood Dominion Award, which celebrates the “unsung heroes of the racing industry,” and will be recognized for her efforts in spearheading a plan to fund Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue in South Florida.

Moline’s efforts filled a major void at the Florida racetracks, where there were previously no organizations available to assist trainers in finding homes for retired racehorses. Since Moline became the intake director for Florida Thoroughbred Rehab and Placements, a division of Pure Thoughts, she has assisted in the rescue of more than 100 Thoroughbreds from the threat of slaughter since last spring.

Moline persistently worked with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, as well as the local jockey colony in order to acquire the funding for the new division of Pure Thoughts.

“There was such a need in Florida…there was no safe place for these horses to go that were racing at Calder and Gulfstream,” Moline told me by phone last week. “With the number of backyard slaughterhouses (in Florida), we really needed a safe venue for (retired racehorses). Since (spring 2009), we’ve taken 108 horses from those tracks, and we’ve placed 48 (in new homes). We take them regardless of their injury, and some of them require extensive rehab time.”

To shed a little light on the policies at Pure Thoughts, the organization’s horses are rehabilitated, retrained, and then adopted out to suitable owners. Pure Thoughts has a lifetime contract, which means when people adopt a horse from the organization, they must agree to return the animal if their circumstances change and they are no longer able to provide adequate care. “We’re trying to make it a long-term safe haven for the horses,” Moline explained.

Florida jockeys currently give $1 per mount toward the organization, which Moline said is helpful, but still not enough to provide the horses all that they need. In the future, Moline hopes to acquire more funding in order for Pure Thoughts to expand.

“That’s our goal—to get more property so we can take more horses and we won’t have to make any horses wait to come in,” said Moline.

“We’re trying to get grants from different places, and we’re doing different fundraising events. There are a lot of retirement programs that have been in existence for awhile, and with us being new, we need to get our name out."

Moline said the division for Thoroughbreds at Pure Thoughts was backed by Robin Cleary, who also works for Pure Thoughts. Read the story of Cleary, who has also worked tirelessly on the Thoroughbred rescue front, here.

So far, South Florida trainers have been thrilled with Pure Thoughts' Thoroughbred division. “They know they are sending their horse to a safe place where they’re going to be rehabbed or retrained, and then adopted out,” said Moline. “(Pure Thoughts) is unique in that the person adopting the horse has to show us they can handle the horse and fit the horse. It’s pretty strict as far as that’s concerned, which is beneficial for the horse."

Moline receives the utmost joy from seeing horses that may have not previously had a chance at having a fulfilling life—or life at all--after the racetrack go on to have successful second careers.

“Seeing the horses--even low-level claimers—go on to have children ride them or be in programs for children with disabilities is really rewarding,” said Moline. “We have a horse that’s now one of the lead horses in the Fort Lauderdale mounted police, and we have two horses shipping to Kentucky to be in a handicapped program there.”

To see how you can help Pure Thoughts continue its mission and expand its facilities, visit the organization’s website.

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