Thoroughbreds

Thousands of thoroughbreds (TBs) are bred each year in Australia. Here are some links and information on helping thoroughbreds find a new life after racing. There are also links to information on other welfare issues facing thoroughbreds, including the use of the whip in racing and the racing of two year olds. For information on jumps racing please see our jumps racing page.

At the very bottom of the page is some information on a forward thinking approach to horse welfare for the future ~ a racing team that has a focus on horse welfare, with 10% of their earnings going towards rehoming efforts.

Organisations and individuals who specialise in promoting, rehoming and retraining thoroughbreds:

  • The New South Wales Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust (NSW) – A charity set up to retrain and rehouse NSW racehorses at the end of their racing careers. Supported by the AJC who have donated the use of stables and other facilities at Randwick racecourse. Suitable horses from the program will find homes with Randwick’s mounted security and also mounted police.
  • Cyberhorse Racehorse Outplacement Program (CROP) (Vic) – A program that provides horses with training to set them up for a new career, and matches them with a suitable new owner. Provides racehorse owners with a better return on sale of the horse, and provides new owners with support as well. Program is sponsored by horse businesses that provide the new owners with a buyer support package containing over $1,000 worth of vouchers and products to set them off on the right foot.
  • The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (Vic) have a database for helping to rehome ex-racehorses, send them an email to enquiries(at)horseracingkills.com for more information (Warning, their website horseracingkills.com contains distressing images and content).
  • Equus, Beyond the Track (Vic) – “At Equus we are passionate about retraining and finding permanent homes for Thoroughbreds.”
  • OTTON “Off The Track Or Not” (Qld) – offer a service “matching affordable Thoroughbreds with a new career and loving homes”
  • Thoroughbred Riding Club Inc (Vic) – Among their aims they include the building of a fun, supportive environment and support network that will help improve the well-being, health and welfare of TB horses and their riders.
  • Racing Victoria link directory of retrainers (Vic) – “Retrainers specialise in re-educating retired racehorses for equestrian purposes.”
  • Racehorse Rehab (Qld) are in the early stage of generating awareness and support with the aim of setting up a rehab centre on the Sunshine Coast.
  • Rehome a Racehorse in Western Australia (WA) - Facebook page

Web resources for retraining Thoroughbreds

  • Off The Track ~  Racing Victoria have launched a new web portal with information on retraining TBs for a life after racing. It has info such a list of retrainers, coaches, clubs, competitions, getting a TB and managing TBs. Off The Track Facebook page.

Rehoming privately

A large number of thoroughbreds that are rehomed are sold privately. If you’re searching for a TB off the track (OTT), here are some places where they may be advertised.

Other methods by which TBs are rehomed:

  • Some experienced horse people establish good relationships with trainers or other people involved in racing who let them know when horses become available – this sort of relationship can be very beneficial in terms of welfare outcomes, as the knowledge that the horses will be well looked after, given a good basic training, etc gives the trainer the confidence to continue to send horses their way.
  • Horse sales – selling horses through auction to the highest bidder allows for no control over the home the horse ends up in.

What happens to the thoroughbreds that are not rehomed?

Many horse lovers may find this upsetting, but the truth is that a large number of thoroughbreds end up slaughtered at knackeries and abattoirs each year.

If you would like to see the numbers decrease, please support the rehoming efforts of the organisations listed at the top of the page so that they may expand to rehome more horses, and please think very carefully before breeding any new foals.

Potential difficulties in the rehoming process that may lead to poor welfare outcomes

It is important to be aware of potential problems that may crop up in the rehoming process, so that a proactive and problem solving approach can be taken. It is recommended that anyone rehoming an ex-racehorse be realistic about their experience, finances, etc, to ensure the best possible outcome for the horse.

  • Some trainers have had bad experiences with giving away horses cheaply or for free to people that they thought would take care of them, only to find that these horses were then neglected. As a result some trainers have expressed a view that by sending a horse directly to slaughter, they at least know for sure that it will not experience the long-term suffering and pain of neglect or abuse. It is hoped that the latest rehoming programs may be considered by trainers such as these, as they see evidence of the care put into preparing the horse for a new career and also in matching it to an appropriate home.
  • Ex-racehorses have specific needs in their care, training and management that inexperienced people may be unaware of. If these specific needs aren’t met, this may lead to poor welfare outcomes such as weight loss, behavioural problems, etc. – Ideally all horses should be assessed by an experienced horse trainer when they are about to embark on their new career, who can then give them the basic training to set them up for life in the non-racing part of the horse world. Eg. Remouthing, basic dressage training, establishing ground manners, etc.
  • Soundess and health problems from racing – A veterinary examination to determine if the horse has any injuries or other health problems will help find issues that may otherwise go undetected. For example, gastric ulcers are a common problem, with overseas studies finding that 80-90% of racehorses in training had them. It is in the best interests of the horse that any issues be identified early on. For example, a horse may be ruled out of competing at a high level of eventing due to a leg problem, but by identifying the problem the horse may then find another home as a pleasure horse doing gentle trail rides.

Thoroughbred retirement 

  • Living Legends is a charitable organisation set up to provide a retirement home for a selection of former champion horses (13 horses at time of writing). The home is open to the public, and the horses are also used for public appearances (Eg. Melbourne Cup parade)

Use of the whip in racing

Two year old racing

Jumps Racing

Cyberhorse Hearts Racing Team

  • A racing team with a heavy focus on the welfare of horses. The horses are prepared with a year of dressage training prior to racing, and 10% of their earnings are used to support the Cyberhorse Racehorse Outplacement Program. They are not raced as two year olds, and are trained by Melbourne Cup winning trainers Mark Kavanagh and Bart Cummings. Read more about this groundbreaking team here.

Other resources, videos, news articles, etc

 “Ex‐racehorses often find a suitable career in Eventing. Two of the most memorable who have successfully made the transition in Australia are Jeepster (raced as Delphic Oracle) who won Gold with Stuart Tinney at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and All Luck who competed with Shane Rose at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, recording the fastest time in the world cross country and helping to bring home Silver for Australia. The testing nature of Eventing suits the athleticism and brave character these racehorses are renowned for.
** This page is a work in progress, due to this being such a huge topic – please let us know if you have any suggestions for further information to be added.
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18 Responses to Thoroughbreds

  1. Pingback: Australian Horse Welfare and Rescue News » An “each way bet” for Aussie horses in need

  2. Risto Siljanoski says:

    Do not produce rice horses!
    Ban horse racing!
    Problem fixed!
    Should we occupy horse racing places?

    • Admin says:

      Hi there Risto,

      Horse racing is a big industry that contributes a lot of money to the Australian economy. As such it is not going away any time soon, so I doubt very much that attempts to ban it or even protesting by means of occupation would really result in much of an improvement for the horses that the industry relies on. However, if demonstrations are your thing, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses may be of interest to you – they are the only group we have seen so far that get out and demonstrate on racing issues. You can find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-for-the-Protection-of-Racehorses/147809141927684

      In terms of encouraging positive action that will help improve horse welfare in the more immediate future, we suggest supporting the efforts of those who are working hard to try and improve things. As you will see above there are a number of new programs underway, such as the Cyberhorse Racehorse Outplacement Program, the NSW Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust, and the Cyberhorse Hearts Racing Team. By supporting those you are supporting a change of culture, as more people get to see that putting the time into rehoming the horses in a professional manner has very real benefits.

      • AB says:

        Thoroughbreds and ex-racehorses are darling creatures. I have been priviledged enough to own, re-train, love and succeed with many.

        One of the big issues facing re-homing these beautiful animals is the surge in popularity of other breeds – in particular, Warmbloods – for performance horse competition arenas.

        I know many other eventing and dressage friends who will no longer look to a thoroughbred as competition potential. I’ve even heard one friend say that Dressage judges simply score thoroughbreds far lower than a warmblood.

        As such, there are less homes available.

      • Racehorse Rehab/Kirsty Le Jeune says:

        Admin we love your comment :o) thats exactly what we believe, racing is a huge part of Australia, it isn’t going anywhere, energy going into fighting that is futile, we believe it is better put into improving the future for ex racehorses, retraining, rehoming, and re educating people about their potential. Unfortunatly there is a negative stigma in the greater horse world about ex racehorses, many people write them off, when infact, they can be ideal in many new careers, with the right training and understanding. Owning an ex racehorse can be an unbelieveably rewarding experience, we hope to see attitudes change and alot more being done for them, following their racing careers. Thanks, yours kindly, Kirsty Le Jeune (Racehorse Rehab, and Racehorse Rehab rehoming)

  3. elby says:

    With thousands of thoroughbreds being slaughtered each year, no rescue organisation would be able to keep up with re-homing them.

    The solution lies in making horse owners responsible for their animals, yes even the unprofitable ones. Most owners are the breeders themselves (The horse-beef industry would not be a bad name).

    The only way to make horse owners responsible for the lives of their thoroughbreds is to make it a federal law. A thoroughbred lobby is required.

  4. Sandra Jorgensen says:

    The Keeper of the Studbook has just released figures which show that 45% of thoroughbreds never race. This is an appalling problem with the breeding industry which appears to be totally unregulated. Add to this the extremely short careers that many racehorses have when they begin racing and you begin to understand that the whole racing model needs to be blown up and started from scratch. Racehorse sales companies focus on funding 2 and 3 year old racing, so many many thoroughbreds are wasted as 2 y.o. and 3 y.o. as they are over-stressed and over-exerted, especially due to the use of the whip. Dr David Evans 2004 study into Sydney thoroughbreds recommended that no thoroughbred be trained until it was 30 months old and yet we know that many yearlings are virtually broken in before they are 2 year old and are jumping out of the barriers after only 3 weeks placing tremendous stress on their limbs when they are not mature or conditioned.

    • elby says:

      Sandra,

      The situation for thoroughbreds sounds awful.
      Near where I live there are quite a few retired thoroughbreds grazing in paddocks. I guess they are the lucky ones.

      What can the general public do to stand up for them?

      • Sandra Jorgensen says:

        As long as they are looked after, yes they are very lucky ones.
        I have fifteen ex-racehorses I am looking after on my property. The only suggestion I can make to the general public is to write to their Minister for Racing via their MP’s office and complain or write letters to newspapers. I have found there is no point making complaints to the racing industries, they are far too full of self-righteousness and self-interest to evolve. You can look up the website http://www.horseracingkills.org for information on horse-racing and demonstrations being held against jumps racing and against the use of the whip on racehorses.

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi i’d like to give a horse a home ? plenty of feed attention and reeducation if needed
    How do i go bout doing that…. 1 thing tho has to be broken in i can educate young green horses , thanks ;)

    • karly says:

      I live in tasmania and we have 3 we are looking for homes for
      Sadly we have given away horses to people in the past and find when they dont pay for them they really don’t care. At our property they are loved and cared for and even the slowest is treated just as special as the fastest because to us they are human and I really hate the general comments on this post saying racing about racing people. I know of a top show horse that the owner did not want to sell or give away and believe because when its tendon came right again may beat her in champion hack the vet refused to put the horse down so she shot it herself take a wider look racehorses have to be looked after to preform and of course you will get some unprofessional people but there are a lot more in other industries There are drop kicks in every horse industry just racing because it makes or should I say we try to make a living out of doing something we love and when successful are looked down on if you are serious about wanting a horse and have the qualifications let me know you will need to have your own land and have someone that can vouch for you that is reputable and we can do checks on as we hate to see them go to someone that does not understand them and not look after them as we have as they all come from a very loved home and need to be looked after accordingly to how they used to. They must also understand how much it costs to keep a horse you should allow at least $70 per week if you are not able to afford that in feed you need to look at another type of horse

  6. Pingback: Racehorse Rehabilitation and Rehoming Update 2012 | Australian Horse Welfare and Rescue News

  7. Sally says:

    The NSW thoroughbred rehabilitation Trust, do a wonderful job, I wish Queensland racing would do the same thing and respect these magnificent animals, I would help organise that if they did. Every state needs this.

  8. Anthony and Amber says:

    Dear Amanda

    Two days ago we rescued 3 ex racehorses my intention was to buy one but we couldn’t leave the other two so I bought all 3.

    We have good facilities at well known stables and expense is not an issue. We hadn’t planned to have 3 extra horses Racehorses to say the least.

    They think they are at the Melbourne cup and are very nervous and jumpy. We are in a position to finacily help these horses but the truth is……we have no idea what to do or who to ask for help.

    Please contact me if possible we are in Victoria my number is 0428876876

    Your amazing in all you do

    Anthony and Amber Swords

    • Carolyne says:

      Hi amber and Anthony I must say you are very lucky to have these magnificent animals. I too used to have a rescued racer and a pacer and found them to be the most loving and kind horses. It will take a little time and a little patience to get them so they are not so skittish but it is well worth it. I don’t have horses any more, but had my two until their final day. There is a book out called Loved by a horse. You should read this it is a true story. If there is any way I can help please email me back. I live in cockatoo but would love to once again be able to work with horses they have always been my passion. My email is
      Miyagi33@me .com
      Best regards
      .Carolyne. And congratulations and enjoy what will be a wonderful journey

    • Racehorse Rehab/Kirsty Le Jeune says:

      Dear Amanda, awesome job taking them in, we’d love to offer any advice we can, you can find us on facebook at Recehorse Rehab, and also Racehorse Rehab rehoming page :O) Yours kindly,
      Kirsty Le Jeune

    • E Kwinelurver says:

      Anthony and Amber, I’m so happy you have learnt everything in 3 months and well done to ignore and delete the advice given to you on your facebook page! Congratulations, I’m sure your venture will be very successful.

  9. Pingback: An Each Way Bet for Horses in Need ~ 2013 | Australian Horse Welfare and Rescue News

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