Wellness Wednesday: TheraPlate Helps Standardbreds Discover Life After the Racetrack

Noble Fitch, a Standardbred rehabilitating at Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program, enjoys the benefits of TheraPlate (Photo: Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program)
Noble Fitch, a Standardbred rehabilitating at Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program, enjoys the benefits of TheraPlate (Photo: Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program)

Xenia, Ohio — When Ohio native Mandi Cool began riding six years ago and adopted her own Standardbred, she fell in love with the Standardbred breed. She began volunteering at New Vocations, where she adopted her horse, and before long Standardbreds were an incredibly important part of her life. “I was heavily involved with volunteering with their organization, and just fell in love with the willingness and adaptability of the breed,” Cool said. “They are dramatically underestimated off the track, and far too many end up in a bad place when they are done racing. I just wanted to be able to change their future the way that they have changed mine!”

In March 2013, Cool took a giant stride forward to help her favorite breed. She founded Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program in Xenia, Ohio to help retired Standardbreds from the harness racing industry reach bright futures. To date, the 501c3 not-for-profit organization has helped place at least 80 retired Standardbreds.

TheraPlate Revolution, the manufacturer of the rehabilitation and therapy plate that uses dynamic movement to promote healing and fitness, is dedicated to improving the life quality of horses. The company was drawn to Cool’s own dedication to Standardbreds, and decided to become a sponsor of Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program. TheraPlate offers affordable and effective therapy platforms that can help ease pain, heal injuries, rehabilitate a horse or other animal, and increase fitness and body condition.

The demand for the Starting Gaits Standardbred Transition Program has been increasing, and the use of the TheraPlate at the facility has offered numerous benefits as the horses recover from the rigors of racing and training. According to Cool, the TheraPlate has increased the overall comfort level of Starting Gaits’s horses. “Most of these horses have worked six days a week for months or years before coming to our program,” she said. “Their bodies are sore from one thing or another— or even just the general stress of being in a training program.”

One of Starting Gaits’s main tasks is to rehabilitate horses before they are put up for adoption. Sound horses usually stay at the facility for 30 days, while horses needing rehab may stay up to a year, depending on the horse’s individual health issues. “We have rehabbed injuries from a fractured elbow (the horse hopped into my barn on three legs) to suspensory tears, fractured sesamoids, and coffin bones,” Cool explained. “We have seen a lot of complete turnarounds. Most of them just need time to take a step back and heal, which isn't always something that can be done at the track.” On average, Starting Gaits hosts twelve horses at a time. Having an on-site TheraPlate has been fundamental for Starting Gaits.

The best ones to tell the story are the horses themselves: Lanson came to Starting Gaits as a retired racehorse extremely in need of the care and conditioning he would receive from Cool and her team. “He raced and won $791,356 from 81 starts with a lifetime mark of 1:51:3,” said Cool. “We at first saw a lot of discomfort and issues with his sciatic in his hip and back. Prior to the TheraPlate, chiropractic and acupuncture didn't even seem to help much.” Things changed for Lanson when he stepped on to the TheraPlate. Now, he has been adopted as a pleasure horse and competes in local shows. “As soon as he gets back in the barn from a show, he will almost walk himself to the TheraPlate,” Cool smiles.

For more about the next revolution in therapy platforms, visit www.theraplate.com or call (800) 920-3685.