Q&A: New TRF Program Coordinator Marcia McCormick

New VTA Program Coordinator Marcia McCormick.

New VTA Program Coordinator Marcia McCormick.

Marcia McCormick has recently come on board as the new Program Coordinator for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River. The VTA caught up with Marcia to get introduced and find out what’s new at the program’s Barn 4 facility in Goochland. And of course we had to go give a pat to Covert Action, sponsored by the VTA!

So what’s happening at Barn 4 right now?

We just wrapped up a sponsor day. Some of the horses have individual sponsors, and we have different levels of sponsorship—some people pay for a couple bales of hay, and some people have a full sponsorship, which is $2,500. Once a month, sponsors can come out and be hands-on with their horse. They can give TLC, groom, round-pen, whatever they want, but they get quality time with their sponsored horse.

What is your background in horses?

I was lucky enough to be introduced to a horse at 18 months old. My mom just sat me on a big thoroughbred’s back and there’s a picture of me grinning ear to ear. I never really looked back. I got my first horse as a teenager and I did a little showing and a little 4H and pony club. I took a break from in my 20’s, then came back to it in my 30’s and worked in quarter horses, and worked for some vets. I’ve always found a way to keep the horses in my life.

Tell us about your role with the TRF.

I am acting as a coordinator. The TRF has done such a good job with all of the volunteer efforts, but they needed someone to be a facilitator on a more consistent basis because the program is growing. There are two different venues that have to dovetail: the Department of Corrections and the TRF. They need someone to be the middleman. TRF is my employer, but I work on-site out of Barn 4.

I have a lot of interaction with the guys in the program. When they get to a release date, we’ve given them a good opportunity with good learning skills, so they can go out and instantly have opportunities available.

Horse showing is becoming everybody’s favorite party, and Virginia is horse show country, so we are trying to adapt the curriculum from a lot of racetrack exposure to experience in the show barn. Our two most recent graduates who have just been released are being hired by show barns.

What are your biggest goals for the program?

We want to get as much community involvement and awareness as we can. This is not a new venture, but we are opening it up. We are anxious to hear ideas from a lot of different people, and we want to explore all of our opportunities. We want to get on people’s radar screens, so they can think of ways that they might want to be involved.

One of the ways that we are looking to grow the program is through Open Barn. Open Barn is when we open the site up to the community, which because we are a correctional facility, is not something we can do all the time. We do it generally in the spring and the fall: We leave the site open, invite people to visit us, visit the program, see the horses, and then we also have a tack sale. That event is April 27.

L to R: Nicole Linamen, assistant warden in charge of James River Work Center; Lois Angelleti, sponsor of Nojailfortheheffer; Harris Diggs, warden of Deep Meadow Correctional Center; Anne Tucker, president of Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River; and Debbie Easter, executive director of VTA, sponsor of Covert Action. Photo courtesy of Debby Thomas.

L to R: Nicole Linamen, assistant warden in charge of James River Work Center; Lois Angelleti, sponsor of Nojailfortheheffer; Harris Diggs, warden of Deep Meadow Correctional Center; Anne Tucker, president of Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River; and Debbie Easter, executive director of VTA, sponsor of Covert Action. Photo courtesy of Debby Thomas.