As you look on The Winner’s Enclosure and pick out the best bets and tips for the races, do you ever take a moment to think about the horses that you are betting on? Perhaps you think about what it takes to become a racehorse, or the time and effort that owners and trainers put into producing the very best horses which they hope will make them a fortune. Have you ever found yourself wondering what happens to a racehorse once it has retired from racing? Here we take a look at life after racing as we ask – what do race horses do when they retire?
Some retired horses are used for therapeutic programmes. These programmes, which are usually run for children with learning difficulties, are important in helping young people and children to develop an awareness of themselves and the world around them. Horses can be used to calm, educate and bring happiness to children. Racehorses are a good choice when it comes to equine therapy as they are used to being around people and take well to being trained.
Many retired race horses are retrained in other equestrian disciplines, Some are used for dressage and others for fox hunting. Racehorses respond well to retraining as they are used to a strict training regime and many go on to have a successful secondary career in a different discipline. Whilst speed and power are important to the sport of horse racing, the sports mentioned here do not require this skill to the same extent as horse racing does.
Rehoming a horse is something that many in the sport support, and there are organisations that are supported by famous jockeys such as Frankie Dettori that work to ensure that horses that have given their lives to races are given a comfortable and happy life afterwards. Taking on a racehorse is not something that every horse owner can do as they take a lot of care, time and effort. They are horses that come with a need for care – they often have injuries that they have sustained as a part of their racing career that need close and careful attention. They are also used to a life of exercise and training, and this needs to be carried on to some extent during their retirement. Organisations dedicated to the rehoming of retired racehorses work tirelessly to ensure that the horses are matched with new owners that will be able to meet their needs and offer them a life of happy retirement.
Unfortunately, many retired racehorses are slaughtered. This can be due to an injury that makes it painful for the horse to continue living, or, more commonly, simply because the owner does not want the horse any longer and does not go through the process of trying to sell or rehome the horse. Often, the horse is sold following the slaughtering of the horse. The slaughter of retired racing horses is an act that many animal rights groups oppose and campaign fiercely against.