Aly’s Wildcat is one out of the many retired racehorses being taken care of at the western Indiana farm. But there is something different about this caretaking system. In this system, horses are taken care of by inmates of various correctional facilities. One such facility is the Putnamville Correctional Facility whose inmates take care of various retired racehorses through the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation program, which is one of its first kinds in Indiana.
This program provides a safe sanctuary for retired racehorses and is run entirely by convicts. The barn which houses the horses was entirely constructed by the inmates at the prison. Red in colour, it has stall doors which slide and is made entirely of wood.
Around eight inmates change into faded yellow jumpsuits every morning and get inside a white van which picks them up at 8 am sharp. The inmates spend every single day of the week taking care of horses. They groom and feed them and also regularly check for injuries. They also ensure that the horses get an adequate supply of drinking water and that the barn remains clean.
The inmates are tested on their knowledge of safe horse handling, health, anatomy, grooming, digestive systems and other things. The result of this earns them a Groom Elite Certificate which is pretty useful in getting them a job.
The program may seem horse-oriented but it also benefits the inmates immensely. Dealing with horses requires one to be immensely patient and kind which in turn are great qualities looked for in a human being. It aims to help the inmates deal with their life outside the prison with ease, once they are released. Their focus and hard work on the job may construct a more positive character in them and help them get jobs and be citizens who contribute to the good things in society.
Taking care of horses is hard work but most inmates look on the brighter side of things and see it as an opportunity to get some fresh air. Most of them aim to learn all they can from this program and hopefully land jobs in the horse care industry.
The program first started in May of the year 2007 and 64 inmates have so far completed the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Program out of which 5 have earned a Groom Elite Certificate. A total of 116 inmates also got a reduction in their sentences. 2 inmates successfully got employed after their release from the correction facility. Seems like, this program brings nothing but good things to the lives of both the horses and the inmates.
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