Equine Rescue

New York State Attorney General Sues Foundation for Retired Racehorses

By of the New York Times

Horses were starved, neglected and nearly 100 died in 2010 alone

An emaciated horse under the care of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at Wallkill Correctional Facility, in Ulster County, N.Y., in February. ~ Ulster SPCA

The New York attorney general Thursday sued the directors of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, one of the largest nonprofit organizations devoted to retired racehorses, saying they had driven the foundation into insolvency and failed to provide money for the basic care of the more than 1,100 horses in their control.

The state’s top prosecutor said in a 35-page complaint that as a result of the foundation’s failings horses were starved and neglected and nearly 100 died in 2010 alone.

The complaint, filed in state court in Manhattan, outlined how the foundation took formal responsibility for more horses than it could afford, despite repeated warnings of financial distress from its own officers.

New York and the nation need the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to succeed,” Eric T. Schneiderman, the state attorney general, said in a statement. “But unfortunately, T.R.F.’s board has driven this vital organization into the ground, threatening its mission and the very horses it is supposed to protect.

“T.R.F.’s current directors have proven incapable of turning around the dire situation they have created. The time has come to give new leadership a chance.”

According to the lawsuit, the board diverted money meant for horses to help repay personal loans taken out by two of its members.

The attorney general’s office “seeks to restore stability and financial viability to T.R.F. by instituting a board capable of fulfilling T.R.F.’s charitable mission.” The lawsuit is also seeking independent inspections of the herd.

The foundation, which denied the allegations, said in a statement, “The T.R.F. will pursue every legal avenue to defend itself against these false claims.”

It added: “Most importantly, T.R.F. horses stabled at facilities throughout the U.S. are well fed and properly cared for in appropriate settings and remain in excellent health. It is our firm belief that the timing of this action by the attorney general is a misguided attempt to link our charity with recent media reports spotlighting mistreatment of racetrack thoroughbreds, which we condemn and deplore.”

Click (HERE) to read complaint

16 replies »

  1. I would venture to guess the Board of TRF embezzled funds since they had millions started by Mellon. Since more than 1,000 horses were starved, not much was spent on them. Don’t know how those people could do such a horrible thing to the horses.


  2. If the State Atty General of NY feels that they have enough to bring a lawsuit against TRF, then there must be some solid evidence of wrongdoing. I wouldn’t think that they would bring a frivilous lawsuit against them.
    They state that among other things, money was diverted from TRF funds to pay for personal loans of two of its members.
    It will be most important to know who they are and what the loans were for….by any stretch of the imagination were the loans used for the care of the horses? It’s doubtful since TRF is funded in other ways.
    Those two members should immediately resign.


  3. I would venture to say that not ALL of the horses under TRF’s “care” are neglected (starved). Many of the prison/jail facilities have their own sources of funding and do not rely only on TRF for funds.


    • Sue:

      Exactly! I looked at the Montpelier franchise and all looked well. The employees were committed and knowledgeable. However, I will caveat that the Montpelier Foundation, TRF and the Thoroughbred Charities (TCA) were at odds then in 2008-2009.

      This turned into a “penis” war, absolutely forgetting the equines.

      I suspect the racing industry “sanctioned” board members didn’t like the TRF board; additionally, each location is subject to separate leases, contracts and agreements.

      Hmmmmm…isn’t Wallkill a freaking PARTNERSHIP between state, prison authorities and TRF? Or was it a situation where TRF had to foot the ENTIRE bill?

      Hey, holyier than thou State of NY………this was at a prison and you all let equines wind up in the condition we see in the above pic?

      Sounds like charity busting and blaming to me. I also agree that TRF gets a big fat fail…..but they didn’t do it alone.


    • “Many of the prison/jail facilities have their own sources of funding and do not rely only on TRF for funds.”

      Government run jails, whether it’s state or federal, really don’t have funding otherwise budgets wouldn’t be so strained. Privately run jails are for profit organizations look at the bottom line. At any rate, a vet examined the horses and found over 1,000 of them starving with 100 dead. This has been in the paper for over a year. That’s the point.


      • Sorry, but your convoluted attempt at explaining the NY State’s big fail is complete K-RAP!

        Do you personally know of the Wallkill arrangement? I can take a guess what happened.

        Regardless, all parties let the animals starve….PERIOD!

        Hey, in California…they are letting FELONS out of jail because (WHAAA!!!!) inhumane conditions because of overcrowding. WHAT???? BS!

        Get tents, dig slit trenches and make them serve their time. I’m sick and tired of stupid governments and courts….IT IS KA-RAP!

        p.s. Where exactly was the vet before discovering 100 DEAD equines? This is plain BULL SH*T! And my government expects me to eat it with a smile? I don’t think so! And how do you switch from private/contractor prisons to “a” vet with 100 dead equines (I bet there were more than that to boot). WTF???????

        Are you saying Wallkill is a contract run prison?…..don’t you just love Darth Vader (aka Dick Cheney)?…if it is, no guessing here. The state is still ultimately responsible.


      • The problem with TRF is that board members apparently used donations to pay off their own bills leaving a deficit in the budget. For this reason, Atty Gen., Schneiderman is suing. The true victims are the horses for whom TRF was responsible. These horses were spread around the country at farms where some good hearted sanctuary owners spent their own money to feed – some let the horses starve. The Mellon Estate started the investigation. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/sports/18horses.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all



      • chris1055:

        I could only conclude that TRF is the big fail….but they had leases and contracts with cooperative agencies, some government. How does anyone involved say, “not my horses”? More importantly, where were county and state (even Feds since it involved prisons at state and Fed level) officials? This is the same kind of fail at all animal welfare levels when animals are abused and die.

        So this is about “MISAPPROPRIATION”????? Oh, great….that will fix the problem and bring back the dead. NOT!


  4. Great idea to start mandatory periodic inspections of non profit horse rescues. There needs to be some accountability and intervention if horses are not being properly cared for due to financial or other issues. Shame on any horse rescue for not asking for help instead of starving these horses to death. Some retirement home… Animal abuse at it’s best – slow starvation is an extremely cruel way to kill a horse. How could anyone NOT FEED these horses? How could they watch them starve? Someone should have notified authorities long before this.


  5. I totally agree that there should be inspections set up on a regular basis. If someone had been checking on these horses on regular intervals this would have been caught. Thanks to all the political manuvering several of the states Dept of Ags are on bare bones inspectors. If this was done on regular basis there would be no reason for someone to feel that they were being
    targeted. The state Ag Dept should be doing this, but too many states are strapped for cash. However, we as horse owners should take note and report such activities.


  6. I certainly hope there are criminal charges against anyone who caused this suffering and esp with the 2 that used money to pay personal loans.


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