In early June, our Community Evangelist, Michele Pesula Kuegler, was invited to visit the TRF Second Chances program at Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Maryland. Earlier that morning the program had held a graduation ceremony for one of the inmates.
Held on a farm near the correctional facilities, this program rehabilitates off the track thoroughbreds, while also providing a new skill set to the offenders who are chosen for this program. Currently, Second Chances houses six retired Thoroughbreds. These horses will spend the rest of their lives at this farm.
Second Chances is run by Program Manager, Sarah Stein. Working with a modest budget, Sarah has been able to build a program that benefits both the horses and students in it. Not only are the horses well cared for in their retirement, but the inmates are also provided with skills that may help them find jobs in the future.
The inmates in the program work at the farm seven days a week, following a fairly typical work schedule. They are tasked with many jobs, including feeding the horses, grooming, ground work handling, as well as maintaining the property. They also are exposed to many skills needed in horse care, such as hoof care and first aid.
Inmates are typically in the program for six months. In addition to providing the program’s students with horse skills, there also is the goal of teaching compassion, self-awareness, and other life skills through working with the horses.
Watching the program’s students, their pleasure at working with all of the farm animals was undeniable. Walking through the barn, many spoke to the horses as they walked by, others talked about all they had learned in the program, and one was even spotted entertaining the barn cat with a toy.
Second Chances in Maryland is one of seven TRF Second Chance Programs in seven states. In collaboration with the State of Maryland Correctional System, the TRF supports Second Chances. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary in May 2019. For more information about this program, please go to https://www.trfinc.org/farms-and-facilities/central-maryland-correctional-facility/.