History & Growth
From a grassroots movement to a pillar of the aftercare community, the Retired Racehorse Project's growth and impact over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal. Browse this timeline for a history of major milestones and initiatives.
After recognizing that warmbloods were gaining in popularity and that no one was marketing ex-racehorses as sport horse prospects, Steuart Pittman organized and moderated the Retired Racehorse Training Symposium.
The Retired Racehorse Project (originally Retired Racehorse Training Project) was formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with the goal of furthering Pittman’s vision to increase demand for Thoroughbreds after racing and restoring their prominence in the equestrian world.
The RRP launched its website. Pittman met with racing and aftercare industry stakeholders in Lexington, Kentucky to share his vision of marketing Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and sport horses. Pittman’s market-based approach was unique for the time as the focus on aftercare began to rise.
The RRP hosted the culmination of the 100-Day Trainer Challenge before a packed coliseum at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo. This event, which featured four trainers each preparing a horse for its second career, was the precursor to the Thoroughbred Makeover.
With a grant from Dr. Carolyn Karlson, RRP created the inaugural Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, which took place at Pimlico Race Course and featured 26 trainers and horses before hundreds of spectators.
In 2014 the RRP received the Thoroughbred Charities of America Industry Service Award and also hired its first full-time staff member, Kirsten Green, who started as a volunteer with the organization in 2013.
The RRP moved the Thoroughbred Makeover to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, and saw a massive uptick in applications and participation as a result of becoming a national retraining event rather than regional.
The 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover, including 580 accepted trainers, marked the fifth year of the event.
The RRP launched the Master Class clinic series, which was inspired by colt-starting challenges but without the competitive aspect. Featuring multiple trainers working with prospects simultaneously, the Master Class clinic demonstrates that there are many ways to approach early training sessions and first rides with off-track prospects.
Placing an unprecedented standard on equine welfare and horsemanship in equestrian competition, the RRP establishes the arrival exam at the Throughbred Makeover. All horses are inspected by a team of veterinarians, confirming the horses are sound and in appropriate condition to compete.
The RRP celebrated its 10-year anniversary during the global pandemic, which forced the postponement of the Thoroughbred Makeover to the following year. The RRP pivoted its programming to offer more virtual educational content as part of its mission.
Combining the postponed class of 2020 with the traditional class of 2021, the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium became the largest Makeover in history, successfully running two separate competition years simultaneously with two Finale championships.
After four years of service as executive director, Jen Roytz stepped down from leadership at the end of 2021. Following a national search, the board of directors named Kirsten Green as the new executive director of the RRP in early 2022.