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.
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.
- Thoroughbreds Off The Track is a site offering free advertising of TBs off the track.
- Racehorse Rehab Rehoming Page is a Facebook page created as a platform to help exracehorses find new homes. (Run by Racehorse Rehab)
- Some of the popular “horses for sale” websites allow you to specifically search for horses “off the track” including: Horse Deals, Horsezone, Horseyard,
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.
- 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
- What is the RSPCA Australia position on racehorse whips? – information on the RSPCA knowledgebase
- There has been a peer reviewed, scientific study into the use of whips on race horses which found that whipping made no difference to the outcome of a race – report on RSPCA website: “Futility of whipping racehorses”, and full text of study, including methods and results on the Public Library of Science website: “An Investigation of Racing Performance and Whip Use by Jockeys in Thoroughbred Races” (This study won one of Australia’s most prestigious science prizes in Sept 2011)
Two year old racing
- What is the RSPCA position on racing two year old horses? – information on the RSPCA knowledgebase
- Please see our seperate page on jumps racing for more information
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
- Excellent report from Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise Program on Thoroughbreds finding another career after racing – “Love your horse”
- Focus on the number of ex-racehorses at the 2011 Sydney International Three Day Event (PDF file). Quote:
“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.