Heart Warming Second Chances

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association recognized the Florida-bred champions for 2017 at its annual awards banquet and gala recently held at the Circle Square Cultural Center. The star of the night was World Approval who took home several trophies, including FTBOA Florida-bred Horse of the Year. World Approval is owned by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation and bred in Florida under the name of her Live Oak Stud. Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation also was named the Florida Owner of the Year and Live Oak Stud was named the Florida Breeder of the Year.

The FTBOA is a not-for-profit association with the mission of promoting the Florida thoroughbred industry. The FTBOA represents more than 1,300 thoroughbred breeders and owners internationally who breed, raise, sell, train and race horses born in the state of Florida.  This year’s Red & Gold Gala benefited Florida Thoroughbred Charities. Funds go to support the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Farm at Lowell Correctional Institute.

This is the only program of its kind where women inmates are paired with retired racehorses to earn an equine certification degree. Once they are released, the women earn gainful employment here in the Horse Capital of the World. Horses are helped, and lives are forever changed. There are over 50 thoroughbreds currently residing at the farm and 15 women per educational series go through. It is an amazing success story since only one percent of these women return to prison after release.

Lonny T. Powell, CEO and executive vice president, observes that, “FTBOA believes the care and support of retired thoroughbreds is a common sense responsibility shared by all who participate in the racing and breeding industry. What makes our particular horse retirement program different at Lowell Correctional Institute is that it also cares for and heals people as well as horses. That is an awesome combination. The FTBOA and our charitable arm, the Florida Thoroughbred Charities, are proud of the role we play with this unique farm.”

Tammy Gantt, associate vice president/member services & events, says, “I don’t think many people realize that Florida Thoroughbred Charities is the sole source of funding for Second Chances Farm, aka the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Farm at Lowell. This valuable community program would not be possible if it were not for the support of the generous equine industry, businesses and charitable community. Year after year, for over 18 years, the community outpouring of charitable dollars has been inspiring and really a powerful message that the program changes lives for those who are in it and for those who give to support it.”

Farm manager John Evans oversees equine experts who work with the women so that they gain valuable knowledge that they can use in equine jobs upon their release. Nashayshar R. is a participant who says, “This prison sentence has turned out to be a bridge between a troubled life to one full of learning and helping others. This last year being behind bars and working with horses has been a treasure.”

To arrange a gift, set up an endowment or donate goods and services call (352) 629-2160.

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