Harcourt non-profit celebrates 10 years of rescuing retired racehorses

A woman has made it her mission to rescue retired race horses once they've become too old to compete.

Horses can start competing at two, but racing careers only last about eight years

Gisele Gariepy, of Morning Star Acres in Harcourt, N.B. takes in retired race horses, re-trains them to be saddle ridden, then puts them up for adoption. (CBC)

Racehorses can start competing at two years old, but their careers only last about eight years. 

After that, their future is often uncertain, said Gisele Gariepy, owner and founder of Morning Star Acres farm.

Ten years ago, Gariepy made it her mission to rescue, care for and find new homes for retired racehorses.

Her non-profit adoption program is celebrating the anniversary with a big party in Harcourt on Saturday night.

"The public always looks at these horses as money earners and they're not good for anything else but racing," said Gariepy.

"I'm against that because most of the time they go to slaughter … I wanted to put a stop to it."

Where it all began

Gariepy started re-training and caring for racehorses after moving with her family from Ottawa to rural New Brunswick.

"We decided we just wanted to have fun and enjoy and have a horse and go for a trail ride," she said.

"It soon turned into 'these guys are fun, they're well trained, they're exposed to everything at the track, let's see if we can get a few more.'"

After talking to owners about their horses' future at racing events across Atlantic Canada, Gariepy said she started posting ads to rescue the animals.

She said the horses are perfect for someone who is showing an interest in horse riding or owning a horse for the first time.

At her Kent County farm, she retrains the animals to be saddle ridden, then puts them up for adoption at market value, to cover her costs.

The animals are used to crowds, loud noises and getting shampooed, harnessed and having their hooves picked at, making them "a very easy horse for someone who is getting into horses or wants a horse," she said.

They can be therapy for everybody.- Gisele   Gariepy

The animals can also help troubled youth in difficult homes open up to their families, she said.

"They can be therapy for everybody," she said.

Anniversary celebrations

Morning Star Acres follows by the motto that "there is life after the racetrack."

Gariepy said she now cares for 11 former racehorses, and a few horses of her own. 

In celebration of the non-profit's ten year anniversary, the organization will host various musicians on Saturday, including Loaded Dice, Atlantic Canada's Premiere Tribute To Danceable Classic Rock.

The event will run from 8 p.m. until midnight at 569 Grangeville Rd., in Harcourt.

Tickets are $25 beforehand or $30 at the door. Part of the proceeds from tickets will go toward the horses.

Most of the time, Gariepy said the organization raises money through yard sales, book fairs and selling donated items from their garage.

She said the horses can live up to 30 years, so she rather sees a good horse getting adopted than killed because they aren't winning on the race track.

"It's putting a smile on people's faces and in many cases, keeping a promise to the owners that the horses will be well cared for and find a good home," said Gariepy.

"[It's] making people's dreams come true."