Anna Morgan Ford grew up on a horse farm near Dayton, Ohio. Her father was a fifth generation Standardbred trainer, and her mother, Dot, cared deeply about the lives horses led once they retired from the track. Dot founded New Vocations in 1992, and it’s now the nation’s oldest and largest racehorse adoption program, having rehomed over 6,000 horses since its inception.
“Understanding both the equestrian and racing industries is a big part of what I do every day. At New Vocations, we have three customers: the horses, adopters and donors. Having experience and understating of each of these is crucial to being successful as an organization.”
Favorite part of the job:
“My favorite parts have to be both seeing all the different horses that come through our doors and find loving homes, and meeting and getting to know the people who support our program.”
On what drives her:
“I was raised to always do the best you can with what you have in all areas of your life. There are so many horses in need of our services every year that it’s hard not to be driven to try to help as many as possible.”
On the racing industry’s attitude toward caring for ex-racehorses:
“Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in awareness of the aftercare needs of horses retiring from the track. There has also been an increase in funding as more of the industry has rallied to support aftercare efforts.
“The formation of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) is just one example of this change. The TAA accredits facilities that care for Thoroughbreds upon retirement from racing and also raises funds to support these facilities. All of this helps horses find soft places to land when their racing days are done.”
On spreading the word about adoptable horses:
“We use social media extensively to let as many people as possible know about the horses we have up for adoption. We focus heavily on quality photos and videos to really show adopters what we have to offer. We are working harder than ever to adopt out more horses because we have to—there are so many horses in need of our services.
On continuing the family tradition of horses with her 2-year-old daughter:
“Loving horses is definitely in my family’s DNA! [My daughter] is really enjoying going to the barn and seeing all the sights and sounds. She loves horses, and is working on learning new words and phrases. She loves to watch the races, and will bounce up and down like she’s riding when they come on TV. She recently participated in her first leadline class at the New Vocations Ohio show, and really enjoyed it.
Anna is currently spearheading New Vocations’ massive fundraising campaign to build the nation’s largest racehorse rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming facility: New Vocations at Mereworth Farm. You can read more about this campaign at the New Vocations’ website, www.horseadoption.com.
Based in Lexington, Ky., Sarah Coleman has a soft spot for chestnuts with chrome, including her off-the-track Thoroughbred that she’s training to be a hunter.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!