Down the Stretch Ranch
Services: Sanctuary, Rehabilitation, Adoption, Equine-Assisted
Location: Creston, WA
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 25
Down the Stretch Ranch was founded in 2015 by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, his wife, Janet Hollendorfer, and Boone McCanna. The 501(c)(3) organization uses ex-racehorses to provide therapeutic rehabilitation for military veterans.
As these equine athletes offer comfort and companionship to the veterans, the organization provides a situation for the horses and humans to thrive. In this form of equine therapy, there are parallels and connections to be made between the veterans and equine athletes as they were both highly trained in their peak-performance days.
When a veteran arrives at the Washington-based ranch, McCanna offers a tour of the facility, which includes an area for the main herd to roam over 100 acres. Just as each veteran has his own story, so does every member of the herd at Down the Stretch Ranch.
Once the veterans select a horse, they are told the story of that horse and shown race replays to understand the animal’s background. Then horse and veteran get the chance to spend time together in a round pen. If both are comfortable, the veteran is given the opportunity to ride around the ranch to spend more time with the off-the-track Thoroughbred.
The ranch also offers housing for attending veterans, with many choosing to extend their stay or return to the ranch later.
Recently, Down the Stretch has been hosting families and children from Fairchild Air Force Base, the largest aerial refueling station in the world, that has 600 families on base. Children on base can sometimes struggle making new friends when a parent is deployed. The aid of horses at Down the Stretch can help children connect and cope.
While the ranch operates mostly as a sanctuary for Thoroughbreds, the organization also adopts out sound horses to qualified homes.