Thursday, 15 March 2018 09:45

Improving the Welfare of Racehorses

Love or loathe the horse racing industry, you've got to welcome any initiatives that improve the welfare of racehorses. From the start of 2018, any foal born to race must now be registered with Weatherbys General Stud Book within 30 days of its birth in a bid to trace the whereabouts and welfare of foals and provide greater transparency over the welfare provided by breeders and owners throughout a thoroughbred's life . 

To further aid the development of a health and welfare strategy for racehorses the British Horseracing Association (BHA) have sent a survey out to trainers to discover what happens to thoroughbreds once their racing career is over. 

David Sykes, the BHA's director of equine health and welfare, said:

"British racing's duty of care to its racehorses extends beyond the end of their racing careers.
"As part of our work towards an equine welfare strategy which encompasses the post-racing life of a racehorse, we need to get a fuller picture of what happens to horses after they leave the track.
"Asking for trainers' help to do this will allow us to understand the current landscape from those who experience it first hand, and we are looking forward to seeing the results."

Many professionals in the industry, particularly owners and trainers are already committed to making sure that their horses go on to second homes and careers after they have finished racing and the industry invests over £750,000 in the rehoming and retraining of racehorses, including British HorseRacing's official charity, Retraining of Racehorses. Let's hope these new initiatives help to improve the lives of racehorses even more.

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It was obvious to those who saw the disturbing photos of rider Charlotte McPherson on social media at an equestrian event earlier this year, that her horse, Thor, was severely emaciated.

The RSPCA was made aware of these photos of the 10-year-old thoroughbred ex-racehorse, whose racing name was Hoare Abbey and McPherson aged 22, of Park Lane, Kidderminster, appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court yesterday (December 6th) for sentencing.

Charlotte McPherson riding her horse, Thor, at an event where an exercise sheet masked how badly malnourished the animal was.            CREDIT: CATERS

She was charged with two offences - that of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse by failing to investigate and treat the cause of his poor body condition, and failing to take steps to ensure that the needs of the animal were met, by failing to protect him from pain, suffering, injury and disease by riding him when he was not in a fit state to be ridden.

Having pleaded guilty to the offences at an earlier hearing in August this year, she was disqualified from keeping horses for 10 years and also given a 12-month community order, ordered her to do 160 hours of unpaid work and told her to pay £300 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

“Thor looked incredibly thin", said RSPCA Inspector Suzi Smith "and you could see pretty much every bone in his body. It was obvious to anyone who saw him that he was not well. A vet examined Thor and gave him a body condition of zero out of five - he was that thin."

"While in this body condition, McPherson rode him twice a week, including at a fun ride in Bissell Wood, Blakedown, in March this year, where his condition was noticed by people at the event. Not only was he thin, but he had a sore on his spine which was directly underneath the saddle. Thor would have been in a lot of pain while he was being ridden.

A vet examination of Thor showed that the cause of his weight loss was because of inadequate condition and a high worm egg count, as he had not been wormed properly.

Thor, in much better condition today.

Thor, in much better shape today               © RSPCA

“It was a slow progress to get him on the road to recovery as he would not have survived a wormer straightaway due to the condition he was in, but within five months he had put on weight and been properly wormed, where he soon showed that he had a zero worm egg count,” said Inspector Smith. We are so thankful to the Retraining of Racehorses charity who assisted with the veterinary costs in this case, and also to everyone in ‘Team Thor’ who provided the care and attention he needed. Thor has done amazingly well and he has now been rehomed. He is loving his new life and when he trots across a field, you would find it hard to believe what he was like earlier this year.”

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Joanna Mason talks about her accident and remarkable recovery with the stable support of 13 yr old retrained racehorse, Liverpool.


Liverpool, a 13 yr old retrained racehorse has become The Jockey Club ROR Horse of the Year 2015 to the surprise and delight of his owner Susan Mason and her daughter, Joanna.

Originally trained, under rules, by Joanna's grandfather, racehorse trainer Mick Easterby - Liverpool won two point to points and had numerous places before retiring to the hunting field with Ian Mason, Joanne’s father, in 2010.

When he arrived at their yard, Joanna had had fun with Liverpool - She took him to Pony Club Camp and she evented with him too. So, when he was retired it was perhaps no surprise that in the summer months Joanna decided to show with Liverpool.

"He's been brilliant to train...He's so laid back..."

Joanna and Liverpool have enjoyed success in several of the RoR Series of competitions including the RoR Hunting Series final and the RoR Elite Series finals at both Hickstead and Windsor.

In March, 25-year-old Joanna crushed and fractured vertebrae in a fall in a Point to Point, she has made a remarkable recovery to return to competition, both race riding and showing. It was whilst she was recovering from her operation, that she had the idea of trying side-saddle with Liverpool.

Joanna was back in the saddle after just 5 weeks... too soon really. It was Liverpool who Joanne chose to ride then and Ian, her father, is convinced that the horse looked after her.

"He was just like a big friend... I'm sure that he was one of the main reasons that sped up her recovery."

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot said; “We chose to recognise Liverpool as this talented horse is a great all-rounder in hunting, showing, jumping and side-saddle. He epitomises the adaptability and versatility of so many retrained racehorses in their new careers.”

Congratulations to Liverpool and his 'team'!


For full ROR Awards results and report click HERE


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