Kirsten joined the RRP in 2014 as the organization’s administrator after volunteering at the first two Thoroughbred Makeovers at Pimlico Race Course. With a background in customer service, logistics, and business administration, Kirsten has done pretty much every possible job in her time with the RRP from stuffing envelopes and ordering logowear to writing budgets and the Thoroughbred Makeover rulebook and everything in between. After growing along with the organization for eight years, she was promoted to executive director in 2022.
Kirsten grew up riding and competing Thoroughbred lesson horses in dressage and eventing. A Maryland native, she lives south of Annapolis with her husband, Mike who we affectionately call Mr. RRP due to his perfect Makeover attendance record, and their two Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Ari and Pippa. In her free time Kirsten enjoys running the dogs in agility, competing in the strength sport of powerlifting, and crafting (often to benefit the RRP).
Erin joined the RRP team in March of 2022 as Development Director, coming on to help bridge the gap between aftercare and the Thoroughbred industry. Originally from Michigan, Erin followed her love of Thoroughbreds to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky’s Equine Science and Management Program, and has subsequently worked in most facets of the Thoroughbred industry from breeding to sales to racing over the last decade.
Erin lives in Kentucky and manages BTE Stables, a Thoroughbred breeding and layup operation that is also home to several OTTBs (including her 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover graduate Denman’s Call). In addition to all things Thoroughbred, Erin enjoys spending time with her four dogs, playing sand volleyball, and adding to the ever-growing list of animals that call BTE Stables home.
Julia joined the RRP in March of 2017 as Development Manager to promote and contribute to the growth of the RRP and OTTBs far and wide, working with our sponsors, advertisers and supporters and representing the RRP at events. A native of Great Britain, Julia grew up around horses, and immediately after school was a working student for Olympic medalists Jane Holderness Roddam and Jennie Lorriston Clarke. She took her British Horse Society and National Pony Society exams before taking a position with HRH the Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips. In search of adventure, she spent a year as a working student of classical dressage in Vienna, Austria before landing in the USA and discovering a deep love of racing. After seventeen years training racehorses at East coast tracks she spent two years in corporate America and a stint working with special needs children.
Julia lives in Lothian with her teenage son George and faithful Shih Tzu Ezra. Julia’s hobbies include horse racing, but also swimming, reading and balloon twisting.
Rhyan joined the RRP team as our Operations Manager in June of 2021 after extensive volunteerism at the Thoroughbred Makeover. With a background in both equine and corporate event management as well as a love of process improvement and organization, Rhyan enjoys supporting the RRP team through event and operations management.
It was a passion for the equine industry that originally moved Rhyan from her native home in Tampa, Florida to the Bluegrass State of Kentucky in 2015. After graduating from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, she joined the staff at the Kentucky Horse Park where she served as an Equine Events Manager. As a hobby photographer, Rhyan spends much of her free time with her camera in hand; she also enjoys visiting a friend’s farm where she can be found grooming or borrowing OTTBs to ride.
Kristen Kovatch Bentley
Kristen joined the RRP team in November of 2018 as Communications Manager, coming on board to continue telling the story of the Retired Racehorse Project, the Thoroughbred Makeover and the horses and riders who make it all happen. She was one of those riders herself in 2018, competing with her first OTTB Jobber Bill.
First a professional trainer and coach at the collegiate level in western disciplines, Kristen is now a full-time “horseback writer,” combining her passion for all things equine with writing, editing and social media management, as well as sponsor relations. She lives in western New York state and competes her OTTBs Jobber Bill and Regal Justice, plus off-track Standardbred Western Flash, in reined cow horse and ranch horse; Kristen is also a draft horse enthusiast and shows Percherons with her family.
Rayna joined the RRP Staff in February of 2020 as the Program Assistant and serves as the Thoroughbred Makeover show secretary. Rayna grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Maryland. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2018 with a bachelor’s in social work, and completed her masters degree in social work with a concentration in community action and social policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2019.
With experience working both in the equestrian industry and in internships at both non-profit organizations and federal agencies, Rayna combines her passions for advocacy, the non-profit sector and Thoroughbreds through her work at the RRP. She’s been a rider for over 14 years and grew up riding hunter/jumpers. Rayna now enjoys eventing with her OTTB, Bourbon and Beer.
Sallie joined the RRP in July 2018 as an administrative assistant, now taking care of data entry and horse information across the RRP’s wide-ranging databases. After a 33-year career at the U.S. Department of Defense, she finds this work to be the perfect complement to her duties as a grandmother, chorister, and of course, OTTB owner!
Sallie has followed horse racing since the days of Secretariat and Sham, and fell in love with the noble Thoroughbred up close and personal while working as a polo groom during high school and college. She spent the next 20 years or so doing non-horsey things but got back into riding in the mid-2000s, finally getting a horse of her own, her OTTB Cerulean Moon. Retired from riding duties now, “Moonie” is living his best life, full of turn-out, peppermints, and carrot stretches.
Jennifer joined the RRP team as our Web Developer in May of 2017 to bring the Makeover online. She calls Kentucky her home and has a background in equine events and web development, plus a business degree from Mount Union College. Jennifer started out as a scorer at age twelve, when people still did it by hand. As technology advanced, she took a liking to computers and looked for ways to improve scoring and event management with them.
Jennifer is a 4rd generation horsewoman and has been riding since she was a baby. She spent a large portion of her summers as a child and teenager at Pony Club rallies and recognized horse trials. These days, Jenn can still be found eventing and living her best adult amateur life.
Mare became the RRP’s Graphic Designer in January of 2022 to serve as brand ambassador and creator of all things visual. Throughout her 16-year career as a designer, she has worked with several non-profits and small businesses on a large variety of projects including logo and identity development, community outreach initiatives, event promotion, and environmental and exhibit design. A Maryland native, Mare grew up on the Eastern Shore where she developed her fondness for horses early on, teaching from a young age how to listen, observe, and connect — skills that she utilizes daily in her design work.
Mare got her first horse as an adult, a rescued OTTB named Edith, and retrained her for hunter/jumpers and eventing. Mare now works remotely from Salmon, Idaho and Edith is in semi-retirement. When she isn’t contemplating color theory and typography selection, or on a horse, Mare enjoys the outdoors as much as she can; hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, riding motorcycles, and teaching the next generation of horse enthralled little girls horsemanship and riding foundation.