War Horses at Rose Bower
Services: Sanctuary, Rehabilitation, Retraining/Adoption
Location: Appomattox, VA
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 10
War Horses at Rose Bower accommodates the special needs of older retiring Thoroughbred geldings. Founder and president Barbara Luna is an experienced writer, horsewoman, and publicist who started War Horses in 2012 to return to the hands-on care of racehorses after she worked as administrator for the Turning For Home aftercare program at Parx Racing for five years.
War Horses at Rose Bower is located in rural Virginia and works closely with racetrack programs such as the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen Association’s TAKE THE LEAD and private owners to provide rehabilitation, retirement, and frequent adoptions for veteran horses of the racing world. Many of its retirees are stakes winners, such as Gimme Credit, Banjo Picker, and Hermosillo, each of whom earned more than $600,000 while racing and enjoyed their own Facebook pages and a large following of fans before coming to War Horses.
Some of the geldings work with children or adults who gain from the therapy that an older horse can provide. Their battle scars, such as an old bow, suspensory, or obvious freeze-fire marks, make no difference to the human with a brush and hoof pick in hand who can gain the confidence and affection of a 1,100-pound animal.
War Horses is a 501 (c)(3) organization and requests, but does not require, a donation for accepting an older horse directly from the racetrack into its program. A veterinary evaluation and foal papers must accompany a potential retiree.
All adopters sign contracts, pass reference checks, and understand that if no longer wanted, the horse must return to the program, although the goal is always to find a forever home.
“With the wonderful renewed interest in Thoroughbreds as show and pleasure horses, these older geldings should not be overlooked as honest, been-there-done-that kinds of mounts,” Luna said. “While 12 years of age may be old for a racehorse, it’s just a new beginning for a show hunter or Western trail horse, or even a companion to an older horse lover who now wants a quieter ride or companion that was a former star.”