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Interview with Dan James, Part II

Published: 1/23/2013
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

Dan James. An Australian making it happen in the U.S.

He and his business partner, Dan Steers, make up Double Dan Horsemanship, a brand drawing broad clinic and entertainment interest here and Down Under. Last year, James shared the Road to the Horse title with fellow Aussie Guy McLean.

Read Part I

In this second installment, we spoke about an incentive program he’s looking to develop with sponsor Taylor Made and others in the thoroughbred racing industry. This program, now just in the idea stage, would address the glut of off-the-track thoroughbreds by retraining them and placing them in homes or programs outside of racing.

Dan James continues:  All it is now is a concept. It’s something we’re working on…But basically the things that I started to recognize is that particularly in the States, there are a large quantity of thoroughbred horses that nobody knows what to do with. I think the thoroughbred industry needs to become a little more responsible for the number of horses that are being produced each year… What are they going to do for the rest of their lives?

I think the thoroughbred industry needs to become a little more responsible for the number of horses that are being produced each year… What are they going to do for the rest of their lives?

James described a training and incentive program in which Double Dan would start the colt for the track and then continue to work with it after its racing career was over.

James suggested such a program would be as good for the breeder/owner as it was for the retrained horse. Over the last several years, the racing industry has been sharply criticized for its zealous breeding and readiness to discard horses as soon as they prove themselves unworthy of further investment.

MBG: So this program would help firms improve their image?

DJ: Yes, exactly. That’s where the thoroughbred industry has been coping a lot of flak through the papers. I’ve been reading about it.
…It used to be you could kill them. You can’t do that. In my mind, you‘ve only got two other options, you either manage it better and / or the Jockey Club needs to step in [to control breeding].


MBG: But right now, there are no limitations on breeding.

DJ: That’s right. So until that comes into play…in my mind, the next option is [to retrain them]. Where they lack in knowledge and understanding is, “What do I do with that horse when it doesn’t work out?”

Good luck, Dan. We’ll look forward to hearing more about it.

View Reader Comments:

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1/25/2013 Judy St.Onge
Robyn Cuffey, Photo Finish Farm in Maine,has been successfully retraining Standardbred racehorses for off track careers for years. With proper training they make awesome saddle horses! Hopefully Dan can get more trainers on board that are willing to tackle and spotlight this problem.
1/26/2013 Maria McCarter
Couldn't agree more off track horses do make the best horses... Totally support any movement to rehoming these wonderful animals..
1/29/2013 Jody Feather
Unfortunatly these horses as with many others still go to slaughter via Mexico or Canada. I hope Dan is aware of this also. I think it is great that he wants to become involved with retraining the race horse.

   
"There are no problem horses, only problem riders" - Mary Twelveponies