by Melissa Bauer-Herzog, America's Best Racing
In 2012, Thoroughbred aftercare reached new heights when the industry came together to create the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). The TAA was formed to serve as a way to raise funds for programs accredited through the alliance.
Since its formation in February 2012, the TAA has gained support from many different groups in the industry, including prominent farms, the Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland Association, and The Jockey Club. Some stud farms have pledged 25 percent of their stallions’ advertised fees in 2013 to the program while The Jockey Club raised its fees by $25 for nearly all registration activities, with the added fees going to TAA funding.
Both those inside the industry and the general public have looked at the TAA as something that has been a long time coming and have provided positive feedback about the ideas behind the program.
“It’s sort of been ‘it’s about time,’ but everyone’s been supportive because a lot of individuals have felt that the only great way to address the problem of our retired racehorses is to come up with a funding mechanism similar to what we’ve come up with,” said Mike Ziegler, executive director of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
The TAA recently opened up applications to any facility that falls under the six standards the TAA requires for accreditation after spending time beta testing the TAA over the past year. Some of the standards include the following: programs must have been operational for at least three years, have at least five residents on the property with 50 percent of them being Thoroughbreds, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and follow a euthanasia policy consistent with that of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in order to apply.
The TAA also allows programs accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries to join the TAA without having to go through the application process again.
“[The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries] has a pretty rigid set of standards and we would allow a facility to use their accreditation provided we could go take some site inspections if we wish,” Ziegler said. “The reason for that is because we don’t want the facilities to jump through the same set of hoops twice.”
Accreditation with the TAA is only good for two years and approved programs are subject to spot checks by the TAA between accreditation periods. For programs that want to stay accredited, they must apply every other year to keep their funding. Facilities must follow standards set in the five areas of the TAA’s Code of Standards to stay in the Alliance, with the spot checks making sure all areas are being covered.
A major goal for the TAA is to provide programs the ability to take in more horses through the funding the TAA provides them.
“There’s a lot of great programs that are out there and a lot of our philosophy has been, ‘Why do we have to reinvent the wheel,’ ” Ziegler said. “We’d love to be able to accredit the facilities then allow them to take in more horses through the financial support that we’ll be giving them.”