Retired racehorse Rock N' Bid struts his stuff. Photo by Katherine Turnbull.

Retired racehorse Rock N’ Bid struts his stuff. Photo by Katherine Turnbull.

From a Retired Racehorse Project release

Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), a nonprofit organization that promotes off-track Thoroughbreds for multiple equestrian sports, on January 4 opened an online application for participation in the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover.

The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium will take place October 27-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park. It features competition in freestyle, eventing, barrel racing, dressage, polo, show jumping, working ranch, show hunter, field hunter, and competitive trail, with prize money of $100,000 including a $10,000 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred prize and a $5,000 Thoroughbred Ambassador Award. The event also includes educational demonstrations, seminars, a Makeover Horse Sale, and a Sponsor Fair.

The Makeover process begins with a four-week application period in which professionals, amateurs, and juniors who can demonstrate competence in at least one of the ten disciplines submit an application to include competition highlights, references, and videos of their riding skills. Applications close January 31, and selections will be announced in mid-February.


Each trainer must select a Thoroughbred that raced or had a published work after October 1, 2014, and that did not begin training for a second career before the start of 2016. Some trainers will already have horses identified and others will begin a search after they are approved. Trainers can contract with owners or acquire the horse themselves. Retired Racehorse Project does not take ownership of horses.

Owners can choose to keep their horses at the end of the process or offer them for sale. The Makeover Horse Sale is not an auction, but an opportunity for buyers and sellers to do business in a setting that allows trial rides, pre-purchase exams, and observation of horses in competition. Owners are encouraged to price their horses based on estimated market value and screen potential buyers. Sale contracts must include notification of resale and anti-slaughter provisions.

Racing owners who want their eligible horses entered in the event may seek out trainers and encourage them to apply or list horses as “Makeover Eligible” in the online Horse Listings at Many of the horses in last year’s Makeover came from racing partnerships that believe in the value of good training to secure the futures of their horses after racing.

2016 Thoroughbred Makeover Rules and Information sets forth additional eligibility criteria and rules. It is published online with the application form.

“Last year’s Makeover created what was described as ‘a run on retired racehorses’ at about this time of year,” said RRP founder and president Steuart Pittman. “It comes as a shock and a thrill to folks at the tracks when they discover that their retiring horses are no longer what the industry calls ‘unwanted horses.’

“With increased demand comes higher prices, giving racing owners an incentive to retire horses sound and taking pressure off of aftercare facilities so that they can help the horses in most need. That’s why we do this.”

Retired Racehorse Project encourages both sellers and buyers of these horses to utilize its online and printed Retired Racehorse Resource Directory, listing 300 farms, organizations, and racetracks with guidelines for “acquiring, selling, placing, and serving the off-track Thoroughbred.” RRP also offers a highly trafficked online listing service in which hundreds of these horses are marketed each month.