For most people, horse racing only appears on their radar in May when the Kentucky Derby is run, or maybe later in the summer during the Triple Crown races. These races showcase the stars of the sport – incredibly valuable, highly trained athletes, supremely talented and owned by the very wealthy. In the real world, the majority of the sport is in action year round, mostly on smaller, lesser known tracks, populated by work-a-day horses earning a living on a smaller stage.
Racing can be hard on a horse, and their career is often limited by injuries and age – a racehorse is considered old at 7 or 8 years old. What happens to these horses when they can no longer race? Many make a career change to polo ponies or jumpers, or as riding horses but there’s always the danger that they’ll end up in slaughter pens or with an inexperienced or abusive owner. Matching up the right personality and ability to the right owner takes patience and understanding and this is where Lynn Reardon steps in.
In 2002 Lynn created the non-profit LOPE (LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers) on her small ranch in Texas. Hundreds of Thoroughbreds have come through the ranch for retraining, rehabilitation and a chance for a new life. Lynn is no blue-blood, but a hard-working escapee from cubicle-land who didn’t learn to ride until she was an adult and who scrapes for donations and advice for her organization. Beyond the Homestretch is her story and the stories of the horses. Full of humor and insight and peopled with the unique characters that make up the world of racing, this is a can’t-put-down book. Never sentimental, Lynn describes the unique histories and personalities of each horse – their humor, their fears, their courage, their intelligence. And even as Lynn saves their lives, the horses become her best teachers and save her in return.
Be sure to visit LOPE’s website where you will find lots of extras including pictures of many of the horses featured in Beyond the Racetrack, a list of horses awaiting adoption and information about the ranch and the program goals.