ARCADIA, Calif. —Santa Anita Park has announced a joint venture between its Thoroughbred Aftercare Program and SRD Straightening Reins Foundation, a Santa Clarita based 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to assist adolescents and teens improve their mental health and well-being through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). The pilot program, which will be run from November to February, aims to use Off-the-Track-Thoroughbreds known as OTTBs to show adolescents and teens that their lives have value and meaning in the face of challenges and transitions, just as Thoroughbreds do when they shift to another career after racing.
Two Thoroughbred mares were chosen for this program. Papa’s Lady is a nine-year-old bay daughter of Papa Clem who raced 40 times with a record of 3-1-6. The other mare is My Aunt Annie, a twelve-year-old dark bay daughter of Dixie Chatter who raced 23 times with a record of 1-2-2. Retired from the racetrack at the ages of five and four respectively, both mares entered the Aftercare Program at Santa Anita Park to transition to new careers. They spent time with Holly Dunham at her farm where they were evaluated for their temperament and willingness to interact with humans. It was apparent from the beginning that their kind and trusting nature made them great candidates for the program.
“I would like to thank the Santa Anita Aftercare Team and the SRD Straightening Reins Foundation and Executive Director, Debbie Rocha, for working together to get this program up and running. Holly Dunham did a terrific job getting Papa’s Lady and My Aunt Annie ready for the program and all of us are eager and looking forward to seeing these mares thrive in their new roles,” said Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Merz.
The use of horses in therapy has proven to be a powerful tool to assist individuals experiencing emotional trauma and the challenges that daily life poses. SRD Straightening Reins Foundation uses Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to aid in communication and demonstrate ways individuals can deal with emotional obstacles using body language and positive reinforcement. Papa’s Lady and My Aunt Annie will be used in the program to aid in these outcomes.
“I have dedicated my life to making a positive difference for those that cross my path, whether it be to show students in my classroom that they don’t have to be a square peg in the round hole, or the ranch crew who learn that their energy levels influence the herd and others around them,” said SRD Straightening Reins Foundation Founder and Executive Director, Debbie Rocha. “We are excited to have these two mares come into our program. Our students have been busy preparing for their arrival and are just as excited to meet and learn from them,” she said.
For more information about the programs at SRD Straightening Reins or to donate, please visit https://srdstraighteningreins.org/ or call 661-803-1641.
Santa Anita Park Press Release
Photo: My Aunt Annie, (Vassar Photography)