His Biggest Win: Retired Racehorse Finds a Loving Home

August 9, 2023

Mai Ty and Megan in riding gear

Megan K. was just three years old when she rode her first pony. She loved spending weekends at the barn caring for horses and had a talent for riding them. Over the years, her parents nurtured her desire to train and compete in dressage, one of three Olympic equestrian sports in which riders and horses work in harmony, performing a series of movements that demonstrate their exceptional bond and horsemanship.

By the time she was a teenager, Megan had outgrown ponies and needed a larger horse, a partner with whom to train and compete. Her grandfather adopted an off-track Thoroughbred for her—a born and bred racehorse who had retired from that sport. They excelled in dressage together, and Megan went on to compete with her college’s equestrian team.

Many years later, her experience with retired racehorses and the patience and poise she learned through dressage would make Megan the perfect match for another special off-track Thoroughbred in need of a home.

It Just Clicked!

In December 2022, after a decorated seven-year racing career in Florida, a horse nicknamed Mai Ty competed in his final race and was moved to a Thoroughbred rehoming group in Kentucky called Second Stride, an ASPCA Right Horse Adoption Partner. 

Mai Ty

When Mai Ty arrived at Second Stride, Megan was living in South Florida with her fiancé, Ryan. He embraced his inner cat-dad when he met Megan’s two cats and, with some apprehension, said yes when Megan asked to add a Corgi to the family. “Now he and the dog are inseparable!”

Megan found herself missing the barns where she had once spent so many hours with horses and was disturbed by news of the tragic horse racing deaths at Churchill Downs, all of which deepened her desire to adopt a horse. Could they handle it, and would Ryan be up for it? She described to him the logistics of owning a horse and the costs of veterinary care, food, training, boarding … Megan recalls, “He was very, very supportive!”

She began her search. She saw colts and fillies but was drawn to the adult horses who still seemed to have the drive to continue working and training.

“We all know the young, expensive purebred horses aren’t going to have a problem finding homes. I’d rather put in the time and effort for one who I know people are going to overlook—the horse people won’t want to put the time and effort into. I guess I have a fondness for the underdog.”

Because Ryan works in aviation, Megan was able to extend her search north, toggling through profiles of adoptable horses on our adoptable horses website, myrighthorse.org, where she discovered Second Stride. She drafted a list of horses who caught her eye and flew to Kentucky. She said she’d take them all home if she could!

The horse at the top of her list was adopted the day before her visit, so her focus turned to Mai Ty, the second horse she met and rode at Second Stride. Like her first horse, he was an off-track Thoroughbred.

“I just liked him. He was super in-tune with what I was asking, and his whole body language … you just kind of feel the click. There was the click, and I was like, ‘alright, cool!’ He’s a good horse. He’s a beautiful horse, too. He’s super sensitive and super sweet.”

A Fresh Start 

In June 2023, with assistance from the ASPCA’s Horse Adoption Express, Mai Ty was transported to his new home with Megan and Ryan in Florida, which coincidentally was where he was born and raised. 

With a fresh start came a new name: Pluto. 

“New life, new name—let’s reset everything for you, buddy!” Megan said. In Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of riches and afterlife. In a way, this is Pluto’s second life, and it’s sure to be a great one. 

Megan’s patience and experience with off-track Thoroughbreds proved to be just what Pluto needed, especially when training doesn’t go as planned. 

“One day,” she shared with a chuckle, “I was able to get him collected and moving beautifully, and the next day he couldn’t figure out how to turn to the right! Now we’re just working on turning to the right. Tomorrow he might decide he can only turn right. This process is new to him, too—he doesn’t always know what I’m asking for and he’s trying to figure it out. It’s important to have grace with one another.”

“It’s ingrained in him to want to race,” she said. “He was trained to do one job and do that job very well. He’s learning that everything isn’t a competition; when he has someone on his back it doesn’t mean we’re going to go run, and it doesn’t mean if there’s another horse in the arena that we have to beat them.”

She is working with a professional trainer to help them work together and to be her eyes when she’s riding. Ryan watches their progress from the sidelines, cheering them on. He has enjoyed learning equestrian terminology and, like a proud father, finding videos online of Pluto’s past races.

Some days they train, and other days Pluto signals to Megan that he’s not up to it, so she spends time bonding with him in the stable, grooming him and feeding him peppermint treats—his favorite!

She hopes to return to the ring someday with Pluto to compete in dressage competitions, but they are taking it one day at a time and enjoying the adventure. “He’s like a puppy dog,” Megan tells us. “He just wants to stand there and be loved on.”

“Adoption isn’t scary,” she added. “Some of these horses have had great lives previously and they can have a great new life, too. They just need someone to take the time and be respectful of them. For the first time in their lives, it’s a marathon, not a race. There are a lot of resources out there if you start to feel overwhelmed—you don’t have to do everything on your own.”

Feeling inspired and ready to adopt a horse of your own? Visit myrighthorse.org to browse hundreds of adoptable horses nationwide by breed, gender or discipline.