L-R: TCA President Mike McMahon, 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion Fallon Taylor & Cowboy Swagger, RRP Managing Director Kirsten Green, TCA Executive Director Erin Crady, and RRP Executive Director Jen Roytz. Photo by CanterClix
Fulfilling its commitment to improving the lives and welfare of Thoroughbred racehorses both on and off the track, Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) has returned as the title sponsor of the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium. The 2021 edition of the RRP’s banner event is being called the “Mega-Makeover” and will welcome horses eligible for the 2020 postponed competition as well as the regularly scheduled 2021 year.
The TCA Thoroughbred Makeover is a retraining competition, featuring trainers from across North America who have worked throughout the year (or past two years in the case of 2020 trainers) to prepare recently retired Thoroughbred ex-racehorses to compete for more than $100,000 in ten equestrian sports. Trainers compete as professionals, amateurs, juniors and teams. Horses from the 2020 and 2021 competition years will compete separately.
“We are very happy to again support the Thoroughbred Makeover,” said Erin Crady, executive director of TCA. “Through the Makeover, educational events, clinics, and expos, the Retired Racehorse Project successfully works to increase the demand for Thoroughbreds among equine enthusiasts. Over nearly the last decade, the RRP and its signature Makeover event have increased the market for Thoroughbreds retiring from the track. We look forward to the Mega-Makeover and to watching hundreds of Thoroughbreds excel in new disciplines.”
TCA’s support for the Makeover is part of its annual grant-making activity. This year, TCA granted over $775,000 to nearly 70 approved organizations. For over three decades, TCA has worked to support not only Thoroughbred aftercare, but also programs that provide health and human services for backstretch and farm workers.
“For more than 30 years, TCA has had a profound and lasting impact on our industry, identifying programs and initiatives poised to make a meaningful difference for horses, backside and/or farm workers and seeding them with the funds to help them flourish,” said RRP executive director Jen Roytz. “Having come on as the title sponsor in 2012, TCA is one of our longest standing partners in putting on the Thoroughbred Makeover. Last year, when the pandemic forced most events to outright cancel, TCA’s unwavering commitment allowed us to postpone rather than cancel the Makeover, thus retaining the opportunity for the class of 2020 to compete.”
For some participating trainers, the road to the Mega-Makeover has been a long journey that began for the 2020 competition year as early as December of 2019 when applications first opened. Applications opened again in December 2020 for trainers interested in competing in 2021. All trainers demonstrated on their applications their ability to successfully transition a horse off the track through narrative, references, and video. A total of 525 horses were entered for the Mega-Makeover after the Final Entry process, which captured additional data about their individual retraining processes.
Each horse and trainer will compete in one or two of the ten disciplines offered at the Thoroughbred Makeover and will be scored on performance and progression in training. Featured sports include barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, polo, ranch work, show hunter, show jumper, and freestyle (a freeform discipline allowing trainers to demonstrate any skill of their choosing). The top five scorers in each discipline will compete in a Finale competition, and an overall winner, as scored by the judges from all ten disciplines, will be crowned Thoroughbred Makeover Champion. The 2020 and 2021 competition years will each have their own Finale and their own Thoroughbred Makeover Champion.
In addition to the competition, the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium offers several events throughout the week that reflect its status as the largest gathering of individuals and organizations with an interest in rehoming Thoroughbreds: the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit takes place on Tuesday, October 12. On Friday, October 15, the Makeover Master Class retraining demonstration will take place, followed by educational seminars on health topics pertaining to the ex-racehorse. Throughout the week, competitors and spectators can shop the vendor fair, as well as watch, try, vet and buy or adopt Makeover entrants who have been listed for sale through the ASCPA Makeover Marketplace.
A full schedule of events can be found at TBMakeover.org.
The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds in the equestrian world. In addition to producing the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, the organization also publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, hosts off-track Thoroughbred retraining clinics and programming at major horse expos and events around the country, and maintains the online Thoroughbred Sport Tracker (the internet’s only user-driven database tracking second career talent and accomplishments of registered Thoroughbreds). Visit the RRP online at RetiredRacehorseProject.org.
TCA funds and facilitates the support of Thoroughbreds and the people who care for them. TCA distributes grants to several categories of Thoroughbred-related nonprofits including rehabilitation, retraining, rehoming and retirement organizations; backstretch and farm employee programs; equine-assisted therapy programs; and research organizations. Since its inception in 1990, TCA has granted over $25 million to more than 200 charities. TCA is the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).