Research explores retired racehorses in Australia with owners sought for survey

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retired racehorses
Mollie Buckley

A Charles Sturt University researcher seeks participants for an online survey to identify physical and behavioural attributes shown in retired racehorses (thoroughbred and standardbred) that are enjoying a successful post-racing career.

Mollie Buckley, a Bachelor of Equine Science graduate at the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences, is conducting honours research to address the current lack of knowledge about what makes retired racehorses successful in their new post-racing careers.

Her survey will investigate what makes retired racehorses able to fulfil their new role, as well as the challenges owners face due to physical and/or behavioural limitations.

“Retired racehorses currently have a reputation for being ‘highly strung’ and difficult to manage,” Buckley said.

“This may be true in cases where the horse receives a poor level of training for the new discipline, or the horse is not matched well with the new owner, or the horse has experienced poor welfare outcomes at some point throughout its life.”

Buckley said that although many retired racehorses are involved in a wide range of non-racing disciplines, little is known about the factors that may make them successful once they leave the racetrack, and her research aims to reveal what makes retired racehorses successful in a variety of post-racing careers.

“Owning a retired racehorse can be a very rewarding experience,” Buckley said.

“While there is definitely a market for retired racehorses in a variety of disciplines, the general public does not have access to information which shows how these horses progress beyond the racetrack.

“This may have a profound impact on the industry’s social license to operate, and retired racehorse welfare outcomes.”

Buckley said the research will identify which physical and behavioural attributes contribute to the successful re-homing of retired racehorses, and whether these attributes can be supported while still actively participating in the racing industry to better support a seamless transition from racing to retirement.

“The current goals for the racing industry on a national scale are centred around improving welfare standards throughout all stages of life and providing all racehorses coming off the racetrack with a secure new home,” Buckley said.

“The information collected from the survey will allow us to identify main themes and trends that make retired racehorses appealing for a variety of disciplines coming off the track.

“When we understand these attributes and whether they can be supported while actively racing, the results will be able to help guide further research which supports better welfare outcomes for racehorses throughout all stages of life.

“Once completed and published, this research may also be used by the Australian racing industry in its efforts to rehome racehorses,” Buckley added.

All previous and current owners of retired racehorses are encouraged to participate in the research.

The online survey closes on Monday 25 July, takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and can be accessed here.

This article was sourced from the Charles Sturt University news page.

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