Thursday, June 26, 2014

James A. Hastie, Executive Director TAA

A seasoned equestrian, James A. Hastie knows horses. As the Executive Director of Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), James is strategic in promoting equine rehab, retirement, retraining, and adoption. It is a great honor to connect with James and support him in his efforts to save horses.

Approximately one-quarter of TAA's revenue comes from participating stallions,
contributing 25% of one season to support aftercare. 
For a list of Stallion Farms that have partnered with TAA,
please visit
Welcome James…
When was your first encounter with a horse?My first encounter with a horse was a long time ago…  Would have to be when I tried to ride a Shetland Pony named Hickory Hills Miss Indiana whose nickname should have been let me pull this five year-old over my head if he doesn’t let go of the reins.  I fell off Hickory a lot, but I always got back on.
Do you have a favorite horse breed?
Thoroughbred, but not because I work here.  My first Grand Prix Show Jumper was an Off-the-track-Thoroughbred named James Bond.  We ended up getting picked to go first, in our first Grand Prix.  It was at Kent School, in the pouring rain.  Didn’t get a ribbon, but considering I was only 17, well, he was an amazing horse.
What is your riding discipline?
I grew up in the U.S. Pony Club and was introduced to Dressage, Eventing and Show Jumping.  When I was 14 I was invited to fill a junior jumper class on my Children’s Hunter.  We won and it was all Show Jumping, all the time after that.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
Probably Vermont.  There used to be a series of fantastic horse shows there and I always enjoyed trail riding on Killington and Sugarbush mountains.  Phenomenal views.  The Lake Placid Horse Show is my favorite horse show.
How many horses do you currently stable?   
With this job, there isn’t a lot of time to have my own horse.  I spend a lot of time traveling around to visit the Thoroughbreds being cared for by our accredited partners.
Describe your role as a volunteer Show Jumping coach for the U.S. Pony Club (USPC)...
My first USPC camp was in 1991 and I connected with all of those “kids” a couple of years ago.  USPC is probably the single greatest equestrian organization out there for someone interested in coaching.  Nothing better than bringing a team to USPC Championships.  Especially if you’ve had a chance to work with the upper level riders since they were little.  I need to make more time for Pony Club and find a club in KY to help.
What is the earliest age a child should learn to ride?
Tough question.  Depends completely on the child.  All I know is it’s never too late to start.  Look at Michael Matz, I think he started riding when he was a teenager and he’s one of the best in the world.  I have a lot of friends who claim they started riding when their mothers were carrying them in the womb.  That might be too early.
Why did you leave your family and friends and a great job at the American Red Cross in New York to move to Kentucky? 
The incredible opportunity this job has given me to make a difference in the lives of a lot of great Thoroughbreds.  While my sister and I worked with several former racehorses when we were growing up, it wasn’t until I helped place a slaughter-bound horse named Dallas from the State University of NY College of Agriculture and Technology at Morrisville that I really began to care deeply for our mission.  Dallas was donated to Morrisville while I was a vice president of institutional advancement.  A rescue group notified me that they had saved him while the college foundation’s board and I were in the middle of a capital campaign to fund their equine rehabilitation center.  That was one of life’s defining moments, for me.  With one or two calls, I found Dallas an incredible adoptive home.  I still feel a real sense of accomplishment from that experience, and today, that feeling is expanded exponentially thanks to the outstanding work being done by our accredited aftercare partners.
What is the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance?
The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Foundation, or TAA; an organization designed to serve as both the accrediting body for aftercare facilities that care for Thoroughbreds following the conclusion of their careers and a fundraising body to support these approved facilities.  Our accreditation process and Code of Standards were approved by the American Humane Association and American Association of Equine Practitioners.  Last December we awarded $1,000,000 to 23 accredited aftercare organizations managing 80 farms across the U.S. and Canada.  This year we are currently reviewing another 29 applications with 72 facilities (though not all of them will be accredited).  Thanks to The Jockey Club, Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup, The Stronach Group, 24 of the largest stallion farms and so many others; we’re on track to award $2,000,000 this December.
James Hastie speaking with J. Ted Neel of Millennium Farms, a participating stallion farm.
How can I adopt or considered as a potential adoption facility?
While TAA provides best practices for our accredited facilities to follow, each has its own adoption process since they are independent 501(c)3 organizations.  That said, in order to be accredited by TAA, they must have set policies that ensure proper placement of each horse and provide sufficient follow up after a horse has been adopted out.  While details vary, TAA accredited organizations have a thorough screening process for prospective adopters that ensures a quality home is found for each horse. The screening process also includes protocols to ensure that each adopter has sufficient equine skills and resources to manage and care for the horse.  In order to be considered, I generally refer people to our web site which lists our accredited partners, and they visit each web site until they find a horse they like, then they apply to become an adopter.  I also let people know that it can take a while to be qualified to adopt, and sometimes a Thoroughbred that is already being advertised will go to a good home before the application process is completed (but they’ll already be on the list next time they spot a horse they want to take home).  
Do you have advice for novice riders?
Read a lot, watch videos, go to clinics and listen to every word.  Beyond that, I would suggest taking lessons from a lot of different trainers until they find one that is perfect, for them.  I also would make sure they don’t ride in a barn that doesn’t place a high value on teaching its customers all about horse care.  A lot of trainers out there want to keep everything a secret, so their clients are dependent on them.  Not the way to go.
What does horsemanship mean to you?
Just as the name implies, the horse comes first.  And no doubt because of my childhood experience with USPC, the word to me brings immediate images of horse care.  To others it may be about equitation or riding skill, but in my mind, if you take great care of your horse through conditioning and nutrition, performance excellence follows.  Don’t laugh, but when I was Cosequin WEF Circuit Champion, one of my biggest expenses was carrots!  Every time my horse Riviera City saw me coming, he knew he was going to get a carrot.  Always had one in my pocket after he cooled off from a jump-off too.  He tried very hard for me.

James A. Hastie Biography:
 A past Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival circuit champion in Show Jumping trained by Rodney Jenkins, James left the American Red Cross and began serving the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Foundation (TAA) in November 2013.

Since that time, he has worked to steward and grow the base of support responsible for awarding $1,000,000 in grants last December to TAA’s first 23 accredited organizations, delivering direct care to approximately 1,200 Thoroughbreds at 80 farms across the U.S. and Canada.  He and a team of TAA volunteers are currently reviewing another 29 applications submitted in 2014.
James was first introduced to a couple of individuals involved with TAA while developing a $7,000,000 equine rehabilitation center for the State University of New York (SUNY), where he was a vice president of institutional advancement.  He moved from NY to KY immediately after being offered the chance to manage TAA because while growing up as a competitive Show Jumper, his favorite horses were Thoroughbreds.  James and his sister Elizabeth retrained several retired racehorses over the years and his first Grand Prix horse was an off-the-track Thoroughbred named James Bond. He is uniquely qualified to work with TAA’s volunteer board and its accredited aftercare partners because of his experience as both a horseman and a nonprofit leader, beginning his professional career as director of communications for the United States Equestrian Team.  

In addition to his humanitarian work and experience in higher education, James was head of development for North America’s first-ever world cup in the sport of rowing, the 2001 Zurich Rowing World Cup. 

Prior to moving to Lexington, James had visited the KY Horse Park several times for horse shows and U.S. Pony Club championships.  A lifetime member of USPC, James began as a volunteer coach in 1991, served as vice regional supervisor for Western NY and one of his students finished third in equitation finals at the 2007 USPC Championships, on a retired racehorse named Farmer Jo.

Connect with James…
Our web site is

February Sale at Fasig-Tipton

Photo by Danielle Nichter 

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