Prairie Meadows Casino has hosted meetings with state prison officials to hold talks on a job-training plan that’s off the beaten track. Corrections department spokesman Fred Scaletta says they’ve talked with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Animal Rescue League about a retirement farm for racehorses.He says it’ll provide a “retirement home’ where horses will be cared for and have exercise and roaming area, have shelter and food. The bottom line is it’ll give the inmates experience in the horse industry and teach them skills caring for the animals as well as giving the horses a place to live. Staff and prisoners will get training in how the aging racehorses should be cared for, and will have daily routines running the retirement farm. This would be at the Newton prison although most of the work will be done by female prisoners at the Mitchelville women’s prison, transported daily to work at the farm outside the prison walls. Corrections managers will travel to Florida to tour a racehorse retirement farm there, to learn what’ll be required to start up a program in Iowa. This isn’t the first animal-care venture involving state prisoners. He says they’re taking dogs that’re unadoptable and working with them until they change that behavior. He says they also train leader dogs for the blind.Inmates in the program will be low-risk offenders, likely prisoners who’ve already been allowed to work outside the prison walls. Scaletta says the program’s still in the planning and information-gathering stages.
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