I first met Amanda Vance when I was working for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and we invited her to bring some off-track Thoroughbreds from her lesson/retraining facility, North Country Horses, to the Run for the Horses 5K road race to benefit Saratoga-area aftercare organizations. The morning of the race, I looked up from my duty at the registration table to see a herd of Thoroughbreds from North Country Horses carrying young riders and mingling with the crowd. A wave of panic washed over me.
Music blared from the loudspeakers and up went the giant inflatable finish line arch. The horses seemed oblivious and calm while being surrounded by kids and adults alike thrilled to be up-close and personal with racehorses. Then, the boat horn sounded the start of the Kids Fun Run. The North Country Thoroughbreds moved in formation and filled the infield of the Fun Run course while the kids raced around them.
After the second boat horn sounded the start of the 5K, the horses and riders calmly headed out as the last set on course and made the Run for the Horses a very special event. Everyone was impressed. Vance had her horses and their riders beautifully trained and acclimated to crowds and loud noises.
“We have high expectations for our off-track Thoroughbreds,” said Vance. “We expose them to a lot of different activities at the farm to build up their confidence. And, they never let us down.”
Now, Vance’s farm has some new residents. On Jan. 14, 2019, the horses of New Vocations arrived and Vance became the head of the New Vocations New York Division. There are currently 14 New Vocations horses in various stages of rehabilitation or retraining at the facility.
“Over the past several years Amanda Vance and her team at North Country have done a wonderful job providing much needed rehabilitation services to our horses,” said Anna Ford, Thoroughbred Program Director at New Vocations. “With the changes we made at our New York training facility it only seemed natural to have Amanda take over the training and adoption side as well. We are excited to expand our partnership with her and ultimately provide our aftercare services to more horses.”
A native of upstate New York, Vance has been riding her whole life and her success with off-track Thoroughbreds started with Prince Raffie (Raffie’s Majesty) who she adopted from a Finger Lakes area organization in 2012. Raffie, a handsome liver chestnut earned $226,552 in 91 starts and retired at age 10.
“Raffie transitioned from racehorse to riding horse and farm life in one day,” said Vance. “He does it all. He has been perfect since the day he arrived. Raffie set the bar and now this is what we expect.”
Vance has 12 Thoroughbreds in her lesson and camp program. She credits her whole team at North Country Horses with the retraining success they enjoy.
“My riders and trainers come from all different disciplines and they all love Thoroughbreds,” said Vance. “I can draw upon their wide range of experience to allow every horse to excel in the place to which they are really suited.”
Prior to accepting the new position with New Vocations, Vance had been rehabilitating New Vocations horses and then handing them off to Leandra Cooper, the former NY Division Head. Cooper moved to Kentucky and became the New Vocations at Mereworth Farm facility director and trainer. New Vocations’ strong team approach and support system helped lead Vance to accept the leadership post with the 27-year-old organization.
“We have a monthly trainer conference call, an annual retreat, and there is always someone available for consultation,” said Vance. “No matter what comes up, and with horses in rehab and retraining there is usually something, I feel supported and connected to the New Vocations team.”
As for her new charges, Vance is very optimistic.
“The horses in training are coming along great,” said Vance. “We have horse shows here at the farm so it’s a great way to get the horses used to new activity and the pace of a horse show or a busy riding stable. I’m especially excited about So True to Theleft, a beautiful filly who retired prior to racing because of a fracture. She is 100% sound with no limitations. She is smart and a flashy hunter-type so I think she will be going places.”
“Basically, I’m looking forward to get these horses out and in front of people,” said Vance. “We are going to help a lot of Thoroughbreds.”
New Vocations is accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. To see the horses available for adoption at New Vocations New York, click here.
Diana Pikulski is the editor of the Thoroughbred Adoption Network.