MARLOW, OK (KSWO) -A Marlow woman is spending her time saving the lives of retired racehorses and rehabilitating them to compete in other events.
Lara Armstrong lives in Marlow and has ridden horses all her life. A little over 10 years ago, she saw a thoroughbred racehorse on the way to the slaughterhouse and bought it. Since then she's gained 13 more off-the-track thoroughbreds, and says while they can't race at the caliber they once did, they can still compete in other events.
Armstrong says what may happen to the horses when they can no longer race depends on the owner of the horse. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for these thoroughbred horses to get sent to the slaughterhouse even though they still have several years of life left in them. She says she's trying to get the word out that these horses can be used in other ways, other than racing.
She says it takes patience and money to work with racehorses, and that's why not many people do it, especially when they stop performing. She wants to make it known that these horses can be useful and, if nothing else, she says they make great companions.
Armstrong says it can be challenging training racehorses because they're so used to quick and fast workouts. She says getting them to slow down can be tough.
"It is a challenge for them, and especially jumping and that sort of thing, they have to learn how to use their bodies, figure out where their feet go because a lot of these horses are still developing, you know, and it's hard on them to get that condition," Armstrong said.
Larry, the horse she's currently working with, has raced at some of the big name tracks like the Belmont and the Aqueduct. Armstrong says the longer training sessions are not what he's used to.
"He's really had a challenge in developing that work ethic. And the heat presents a real challenge too, because they get tired quicker. Sometimes I think he feels that he would rather be back on the track because it's a lot less work," Armstrong said.
Armstrong is one of 500 trainers from three countries picked to compete in the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover happening in October. She says she's blessed to have been chosen.
"It's the best of the best trainers, and I'm really honored I was selected and competing against some of the professionals like Denny Emerson, and you know things of that nature. It's just really an honor," she said.
Larry had nine starts in his career and was going to be sent to the slaughter house because he was considered lame in his legs. Armstrong says she was lucky to find him.
"Unfortunately, he didn't make it as a racehorse, but someone else's loss is my gain, because I think he's going to be a great hunter and jumper," Armstrong said.
Armstrong says Larry is from the bloodline of a once famous racehorse named Old Fashioned.
Other trainers picked for the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover are from the United States, Canada and Europe.