HSUS Humane Horseman of the Year Steuart Pittman (left) with MHC president Neil Agate and MHC executive director/Equiery publisher Carrie Hull at this year’s Maryland Horse Industry Day in Annapolis (January 2019 – photo by Katherine O. Rizzo)

This afternoon in Annapolis, the Humane Society of the U.S. will honor Steuart Pittman as its Humane Horseman of the Year. The award is given annually to an individual who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to protect horses here in the U.S. Pittman, founder of the Retired Racehorse Project and current Anne Arundel County Executive, is being recognized for his commitment to the retraining of former racehorses as well as his successful efforts to gain endorsements from the Maryland Horse Council on key equine protection federal legislation.

Pittman, who has a lifelong history within the Thoroughbred industry, recognized early on the need for a program that would retrain and promote former racehorses into new careers in other disciplines. The goal of forming RRP was to encourage greater racehorse retraining and aftercare, and educate the public about the other roles for which these horses are well-suited. RRP facilitates placement of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses for second careers in equestrian sports and works closely with the farms, trainers and organizations that transition them.

Pittman and the RRP team took this concept one step farther with the formation of the annual Thoroughbred Makeover, which held its inaugural competition here in Maryland at Pimlico Racecourse. The competition has taken on national success and is now held each fall at the Kentucky Horse Park. Since its inception in 2013, the Thoroughbred Makeover has impacted over 2000 Thoroughbreds. The event hosts over 800 trainers who volunteer their time to retrain former racehorses in a variety of disciplines including dressage, ranch work, hunter/jumper and eventing.

Pittman, a former MHC president, was also instrumental in securing the Maryland Horse Council’s endorsement of two major equine protection bills in Congress. MHC was the first state horse council in the nation to endorse the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act,  H.R.961. This federal bill will prevent horse slaughter plants from opening in the U.S. and end the current export of horses abroad for slaughter for human consumption, a practice 80% of the American public opposes.

Keith Dane, senior adviser on equine protection at the Humane Society of the United States stated, “We are pleased to honor Steuart Pittman for his longstanding commitment to protecting horses, including his dedication to the promotion and aftercare of retired racehorses. As a lifelong fellow horseman and equine advocate, I am thrilled to pay tribute to Steuart’s tireless work and advocacy on behalf of horses.”