Q: Where is New Start based?
A: It is based at Penn National and is a program of the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (PAHBPA).
Q: How long has your group been active?
A: In 2013 the PAHBPA decided to create an in-house program. The program is staffed by only Lauren. There is a board through PAHBPA that she works with. Doctor Renee Nodine donates almost all of her time and energy when she works with the program.
Q: What makes your program unique?
A: Lauren won’t say no to a horse that a trainer puts in the program. New Start will take all eligible horses that their Penn National trainers put in.
Q: What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?
A: The horses are based at foster farms. There is a core group of six or seven foster farms they work with. They have others that take them occasionally as well. Lauren and Dr. Renee look at the horses at the track. Then they take each horse to a nearby farm for a couple days up to a week to evaluate each- personality, see how he/she moves. They decide if the horse is sound enough to do anything, be a broodmare, etc. Lauren and Dr. Renee discuss. Lauen decides which foster will get the horse. She gives the foster money for the horse (varies by horse). The foster can keep, sell, or lease the horse. Each foster has a contract with New Start. The foster has a contract with the new owner and keeps track of the horse. A horse always can come back. They are never to be sold for slaughter.
New Start also works with a woman who owns Touch of Kindness Sanctuary. When horses are not rideable, she will take them. New Start supports her. She has eleven of their horses. She has no funding from anyone and just does this as a labor of love. The horses are cared for, not just left out of the field. They are brought in and loved.
Q: Does New Start do reporting?
A: They follow each horse for a minimum of a year. Some horses have been followed for 5 years.
Q: How many horses have you worked with?
A: New Start has placed over 600 horses. Last year they placed 140 horses. Currently, they are on pace to do over 100 this year.
Q: How does New Start receive funding?
A: Every time an owner starts a horse $10 is given to the fund. Most of the jockeys (about 90%) give $10 per win, $5 per place. PA Breeders make donations. Penn National makes a donation.
Q: Do you have a story about a horse?
A: We got a horse four years ago, Major Highway, who is a beautiful gray horse. He was claimed at $10,000 and didn’t win. The owner wanted to retire him. Previously he had been horse of the year at Parx. Lauren contacted the breeder, got a hold of the woman who broke and raised him. That woman, Erin Collins, has a riding farm in Georgia. She retrained him, and now this horse, who won $500,000, is being ridden by kids.
Another memorable horse is Sing Praises. New Start got it this year. This horse had made $500,000–600,000 and was Florida Horse of the Year. She tried to get a hold of the breeder but got no answer. Lauren worked with Florida Breeders and got him into their prison program.
Q: If people want to help your program, what can they do?
Q: Donate to New Start. Donate to Touch of Kindness Sanctuary.