SARATOGA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A bay gelding horse named Kid Blast created a name for both himself and owner Parting Glass Racing in 2014, winning or finishing in all eight of his career races at New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) tracks. Now, just five miles from the famed Saratoga Race Course, Kid Blast has still been making memories and bringing joy to those around him as a therapy horse with Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga.
Tom Gallo, managing partner of Parting Glass Racing and now Dream Maker Racing, reached out to Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga (THS) after Kid Blast retired from pony work, suggesting the gelding’s experience would allow him to excel as a therapy horse. “Kid’s personality was just perfect,” said Laura LaRue, the Director of Equine Care at Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga. “We got him in 2019 and he’s got a big brother kind of personality. He flowed right into his role here and just wants to please everyone.”
Therapeutic Racehorses of Saratoga was founded in 2018 with the mission to retrain retired thoroughbreds and standardbreds to become therapy horses for clients with special needs, in partnership with ECS Psychological Services in Saratoga Springs. Patients are taught equine husbandry at Lake Avenue farm, learning to problem solve and work through emotions.
“Our clients typically spend time getting to know the horses on their first few visits,” LaRue said. “We’ll ask them to catch and bring us a horse from the field and provide them with a halter and lead rope, but most do not know what those are or how to use them. Sometimes they will just entice them over with a piece of hay. This helps our patients learn how to figure things out for themselves and then down the road, we can have them do other things like lead the horses through obstacle courses. The horses challenge them to work through it.”
Now in his third career, Kid Blast is exemplary of the wide array of new jobs available to racehorses when their days on the track are over. LaRue emphasized that both thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses are favorable to work with in new settings because of how they are handled on the racetrack. “Racehorses are exposed to things like the starting gate, noise, and crowds and they get used to it pretty quickly,” said LaRue. “Here on the farm, they aren’t nervous around tractors or a tarp flapping around in the breeze. All of their exposure on the track made it a lot easier for them to transition here. It makes a big difference.”
The Therapeutic Racehorses of Saratoga organization has also partnered with Broadalbin-Perth Central School District to provide equine therapy to K-2 special education students. The program helps students improve communications skills and work on fine motor skills that they might not be able to learn in the traditional classroom. For more information, visit the Therapeutic Racehorses of Saratoga’s website.