The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCC), announced in a press release that the successful Second Chances program will expand to a new farm located at Wyoming Correctional Facility in Attica, about an hour outside Buffalo. The foundation has a rich history in the state with the flagship program at Wallkill Correctional Facility debuting in 1984 and still in operation today. There are 40 retired Thoroughbreds currently at the location.
The Second Chances program is a pioneer in its field, where incarcerated individuals build life skills while participating in a vocational training program, and provide supervised care to retired racehorses. It has successfully expanded to include eight correctional facilities across the US, including one juvenile justice facility at CSI-Ocala in Florida, and is considered the oldest Thoroughbred rescue in the country. The foundation also provides sanctuary to retired Thoroughbreds throughout their lifetime.
“The TRF is eager to launch the new program in western New York so that we can provide this important vocational opportunity to more incarcerated individuals, who will also care for up to 25 Thoroughbreds needing a safe haven after their racing careers are over,” said Pat Stickney, TRF's Executive Director, about the newest expansion. “We are grateful to the NYSDOCCS for their continued support in this collaborative effort which serves these two important missions.”
Work on the new property is slated to begin in the spring of 2022 to prepare the facility for the arrival of horses. The program at Wyoming Correctional Facility will operate within one of the former dairy barns, converted for housing horses just as the structures were at Wallkill Correctional, and will utilize approximately 50 acres of land near the barn. The pastures will be reseeded and fenced to maintain the equine teachers who will live there.
Wyoming Correctional currently has a strong offering of vocational services for incarcerated individuals including small engine repair, horticulture, welding, and HVAC. The addition of the TRF Second Chances program will add another layer of unique and necessary skills available for the men to learn while they are serving their sentence. It will also function as a much-needed place of sanctuary to the horses who will come to call the property home.
“The Department is elated to welcome the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation's Second Chances program to another one of our facilities,” said DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci. “TRF's mission is not only humane in offering sanctuary to retired Thoroughbreds but in the humanity it brings to its participants. This program has been life changing to countless incarcerated individuals over the years, and we are proud to expand this opportunity for a new lease on life to both incarcerated individuals and equines alike.”