MN Retired Racehorse Project

The list includes a mare named Revenge Tea, a gelding called Valise, another called Just One Spot. There is a dark bay mare called Hopscotch Ali. Or, race fans, remember Topper? There are six in all at the farm in Lakeville and four more ready for adoption in foster care.

The lineup of animals in need of new homes will appeal to anyone in search of a hunter, a jumper, a barrel horse or a roper. Need a good mare – not too tall – but well suited for dressage? The Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project can help you.

Need an animal already examined for size, temperament, health and aptitude? The MNRRP can help you.

Want a mount limited to the trail? You’re in luck there, too.

The MNRRP has found homes for some 100 retired racehorses since its institution in 2009. And there are always more looking for new homes.

Dr. Jennifer Selvig, Kate Jensen and Annie Ringwelski founded the organization in 2009. Coleen Foley joined this year after Ringwelski moved on to work with the adoption of all breeds.

The MNRRP is primarily concerned with former racehorses.

“We’ll take anything that raced, that has a tattoo,” said Dr. Jennifer Selvig.”Thoroughbred, quarter horse or standardbred.”

The market is different for each breed, of course.

“There is a very big market for quarter horses, and we’re happy to help out there, too, although there already seems to be a pretty good channel of re-homing the quarter horses,” Selvig said. “The standardbreds have a good market in the Amish community.”

The thoroughbred?

“I think about 99 percent of the horses we get are thoroughbreds, although they do have a reputation of being hot (blooded),” Selvig added.”But in all honesty, although they are sometimes harder to place, they are a very versatile horse.”

The MNRRP had stalls at Canterbury Park last year to receive horses headed for adoption, but has abandoned that plan this year to stable some at a farm in Lakeville or to leave them with their original owners under foster care until a new owner can be found.

“We’re not at Canterbury enough to look after them there,” Selvig explained.”So we decided to go this route, instead. Although I’m sure we could get some stalls if we needed them.”

Some of the horses available include an adoption fee. The fee on others has been waived. There is a commitment involved, however. Proper care of the horse is at the forefront of that commitment.

“We have a seven-page contract people have to sign,” Selvig added.”It’s to take safeguard the horse, to prevent people from auctioning them … or racing them again.”

The contract also stipulates that, among other safety measures, the horses not be confined behind barbed wire and that they have shelter and good food. The contract entitles MNRRP personnel to check on the horses at any time and to take them back without notice if they are being mishandled in any way, at the adoptive owners’ expense.”

The MNRRP markets the horses according to ability on its own website (www.mnrrp.com), on dreamhorse.com, equine.com and horseclicks.com. Guesswork isn’t part of the process.

“If the horses are sound enough when we get them and don’t need rehabilitation we lunge them, get on them and see what they can do. We want to match the right horse to the right rider. If a horse is good at dressage, we’ll market it that way. If it’s good at the barrels, we’ll market it that way. We want the right horse with the right rider,” Selvig explained.

Selvig has been a licensed veterinarian at Canterbury Park since 2007, although she arrived in 2005, as a groom and a pony rider, largely for trainer Jaime Ness. “I groomed for him an entire season,” she said.

Most of the horses placed by the MNRRP have either raced or been stabled at Canterbury with the intentions of racing. The organization got its start when Selvig and her two colleagues began talking about the need for such a group.

“We placed a horse, found a home for it very quickly and decided to do another,” Selvig recalled.”We decided that this could be a good thing. There was no official organization in Minnesota like it. Other tracks on the East and West coasts have them, but the only thing here was Dr. Bowman, who does it at Canterbury, probably out of kindness.”

Selvig’s reference was to Dr. Dick Bowman, who works in concert with state veterinarian Dr. Lynn Hovda on the backside to find a place for retiring racehorses, typically his farm in North Dakota.

The Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project is non-profit organization that relies on donations. Feed, blankets, straw, hay, the horses themselves are tax-deductible. Simply contact MNRRP through its website or leave the donation at the HBPA office in the Canterbury stable area.

It’s as simple as this: If you have a horse that needs a new caretaker, the MNRRP will help.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

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