Patience and Devotion: Thoroughbred Caretakers Provide Homes for Life

by | 11.08.2013 | 9:04pm

During our recent Breeders' Cup or Bust fundraising trip through California, we weren't able to share with you all of the stories we discovered and the people we met. You'll meet two more of them here.

Pam Berg and Priscilla Clark represent the many dedicated individuals across the country who devote their life's work to taking in ex-racehorses, giving them a home, and helping them to thrive long after their racing careers are over. It's a difficult job, with funding and maintaining support a constant concern.

Both Berg and Clark came from the racing industry and many years ago decided they had to do something to help horses coming off the track. Since 1995, Berg has operated GEVA, Inc., a farm tucked away in a valley known for its wineries where 33 Thoroughbreds call home. More than 350 miles south in remote Tehachapi, Calif., Clark has been re-homing racehorses for three decades. She now has 70 at Tranquility Farm.

GEVA and Tranquility are among nearly 20 organizations supported by CARMA, a non-profit that raises money for retired California racehorses. CARMA and other groups like it depend largely on donations. As you'll see in this video produced by Scott Jagow, the devotion of people like Berg and Clark is worth supporting.

  • Right then, Right now

    correction. Write Pam at

    [email protected]

  • liz d.

    Thankful the Paulick report continues to keep thoroughbred aftercare in the spotlight.

    • laterush

      ottbs so deserving of decent futures. Glad for Paulick report as well.

  • betterthannothing

    Another great feature. The PR at its best. To these great ladies and other noble and courageous rescuers: thank you for bravely facing tragic situations and trying to pick-up as many of the pieces left behind by the industry as possible and for loving other people’s “bad” horses deeply and unconditionally.

  • princessspiro

    If you read this article juxtaposed against the article on the Keenland sales and the Nevada gambling earnings you cannot do so without being angry. These dedicated caretakers are forced to rely on “donations” from private persons? But millions of dollars emerged from 2 events, in particular the Breeder’s cup and the Derby as well as the sales. Why not require the tracks to contribute $1.00 for each person in attendance, i.e. if belmont stakes has 40,000 in attendance than the track should contribute $40,000 to the organizations that provide the funds to these rescuers and ask the attendees if they wish to donate the $1.00 if need be. Or the most important area of concern, the claiming races, the tracks should be required to donate $50.00 per race from their take up to $100 for the more lucrative claiming races. Then require the owners and trainers to donate 1% in total of the winnings in Graded stakes races or even just $1,000 for the smaller purse races. Instead of looking to others to donate large sums of money perhaps it is more efficient to require smaller amounts from those persons benefitting from the talent of the horses on a regular basis. I so admire the women in this article for their determination and great hearts, they deserve support from the industry as well as the charitable fans.

    • nu-fan

      I can certainly identify with your sentiments. To add, when I see horses being purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even more) and, then, think about the how few dollars are being spent by the horseracing industry in the aftercare of all racing horses, I get a tad bit furious. And, for these wonderful ladies (why so often “ladies”?) to patch together donations/contributions to take care of these “discarded” horses…. well, it seems not only to be so unfair but also I sense an arrogance by those who do make serious money off of this sport and, yet, are not concerned about helping out the other horses on the tracks. And, yes, the tracks should be required to support these horses but I see setting aside a small amount of every take-out (perhaps, even a fraction of one percent will help a lot) to assist in supporting these horses–especially the claimers who are not purchased for huge dollars for stud fees and do not get to go off to propagate a continuing pipeline of future racehorses. These claimers are just written off someone’s expense sheet and sent to….

      • princessspiro

        The money I was suggesting from the claiming races should be applied to helping rescue the claiming horses themselves, sorry i wasn’t very clear on that.

    • LL

      West Point Thoroughbreds has set up a program like this. Each partner purchase has money set aside for this purpose. They also have a Black & Gold Fund through Thoroughbred Retirement which helps also. They also track their past runners to see where they end up. Like your idea about the track contributions.

    • peewee

      Charles town hpba take 2 dollars out of every horse that runs for supposedly to go to a rescue,I could my 2 dollars to take care of my retired racehorses 12 to be exact ages 4 to 28,nobody helps me.

      • laterush

        well, I thank you on behalf of your horses. all 12. good job.

      • princessspiro

        You have raised an important issue, how to reward the responsible owners for taking care of their own. Perhaps extensive tax breaks at the state or federal level could be helpful, but that would require registration of retired race horses. And Maybe if the rescues were amply supported there could be cross sharing of funds between rescues and the small owners or more owners would feel comfortable having rescues help them with their retired “loved ones”. I admire what you are doing.

    • LuckyPenny

      These are great ideas. More people in the industry need to be able to come up with ideas like these and then have the ability to implement them.

  • Roisin

    I applaud Berg and Clark for their amazing efforts to help the horses. Also, the same goes for all the others who do so much to help while stretching every donated dollar as far as it will go.
    The glaring fact is, that in a multi- billion dollar industry people are struggling in their efforts to help the horses in need while depending on the charity of those outside the business. Many of modest means donate and do what they can to help.
    Apart from how wrong this is it is not good PR for the industry !

  • Caroline

    Thank you.

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