Canyon Country’s Win Place Home Ranch recently hosted its third annual “Cabaret,” delivering a night of song, laughter, and, of course, horses.
The event aimed to raise funds for the retraining of former racehorses in new disciplines and to find them permanent, loving homes. The show, featuring entertainers and a lip-sync battle — the latter being a fan favorite, according to CJ Wilson, founder and lead trainer at Win Place Home.
Wilson said the over $25,000 raised at the event would ensure all their hoofed residents will be set up for success after their time as professional racers.
“We take care of the horses for the rest of their lives,” said Wilson. “So even if they get adopted, all of our doctors know that if at any point in their life something happens to them, they can’t afford to keep their horse anymore and they need to place their horse back with us, we have an open-door policy here where the horse can always come back safely to us and we will then continue to find them a new home.”
Wilson said a day in the life of one of their horses is very similar to some of their trainers’, albeit the obvious exceptions needed for a four-legged, thousand-pound mammal bred for speed.
They start their day at 8 a.m., eat breakfast and then have an inspection to spot for injuries from the night before. Then, they head off to work.
“Work for these horses looks different at different times,” said Wilson. “But basically we’re just trying to retrain them and find what brings joy to their life.”
Work for the horses can be jumping, walking along the trail or dressage.
“We just want to find that little spark of joy and then help cultivate that and have them do what they love to do,” said Wilson.
After work, they head to lunch and then back to their stalls to hang out with their friends until dinner, before falling asleep and starting the cycle all over again.
Win Place Home aims to challenge common misconceptions surrounding off-track thoroughbreds, dispelling notions of them being high-strung, flighty, or untrainable.
While many potential horse owners may have possessed the necessary time and patience, they often overlooked off-track thoroughbreds as prospects for their chosen discipline. The organization hopes to showcase these horses as determined and strong animals with a desire to adapt to whatever changes occur in their lives. In many cases retired race horses can face being sold at auctions to not-great homes or, at worst, euthanasia.
But Win Place Home hoped to also change that notion with events such as the Cabaret — which allowed attendees to tour the ranch and the stalls, and meet some of the horses.
“I think my favorite part was just the support of the people that showed up,” said Wilson. “Even with the weather being a little bit iffy … they wanted to just show up and support the horses and it didn’t matter … They were here to show their support and that really meant a lot to me and a lot to the horses and the talent to who came and performed.”