Majority of thoroughbreds successfully moved to new careers in Queensland, Australia

Nearly all Thoroughbred racehorses in a Queensland study were successfully repurposed after racing, although those who bowed out with injuries were less likely to find performance roles.

Kylie Crawford and her fellow researchers noted there was international public concern regarding the retirement of racehorses, including the reason for retirement and the outcome for horses after racing. “Thoroughbred racing attracts significant media and public attention,” the study team said. “It is vital that the industry is focused on understanding the risks for voluntary rather than involuntary retirement and optimising the successful long-term repurposing of horses.”

Fifty-one percent of the retirements — 56 of the 110 horses — were involuntary. They resulted from musculoskeletal injuries, respiratory or cardiac conditions, or behavioural problems that prevented the horse from racing. Among these forced retirements, musculoskeletal injuries were the most common reason, affecting 40 of the 110 horses, or 36%. The remaining 49% of horses of the 110 had voluntary retirements.
It was found that 98% of the horses (108 of the 110 horses) were repurposed after retirement, almost half as performance horses (46%). The remaining two horses could not be traced.

Horses that were voluntarily retired (because of racing form or an impending injury) were 2.28 times more likely to be repurposed as performance horses than those retired involuntarily.

Even so, 30% (12 of the 40) of horses who retired because of musculoskeletal injury were successfully repurposed as performance horses.
There was no association between voluntary or involuntary retirement and whether horses were used for breeding or pleasure.

Medium-term follow-up, after about 14 months, revealed that 105 of the 110 horses were still alive.

“Although these findings suggest that successful repurposing of horses and their welfare was maintained in the medium-term, these results may not reflect the long-term outcome for horses in their new careers.
“Currently, once racehorses have retired from racing, there is insufficient control over the long-term welfare of these horses.
“There is a need for traceability and accountability for these horses to ensure that their welfare is maintained in their new careers.”

Source: MDPI

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