Study: Australian Thoroughbreds Retired Sound Easier To Rehome

After a outcry of public concern regarding the fate of Thoroughbred racehorses when their racing careers were over, a study team was created to assess the incidence, risk factors and outcome for retiring racehorses in Australia.

Drs. Kylie Crawford, Anna Finnane, Ristan Greer, Clive Phillips, Solomon Woldeyohannes, Nigel Perkins and Benjamin Ahern investigated how many horses were retired from racing at the Brisbane Racing Club in Australia over a 13-month period. The team invited all license trainers at the track with three or more horses in work to participate: 27 of the 40 eligible trainers agreed to take part in the study.

It was determined that a median of 544 racehorses were in training each week, with 110 horses retired during the study; 56 of these horses were retired involuntarily because of things like musculoskeletal injuries, cardiac conditions, respiratory concerns or behavior issues. Of these problems, musculoskeletal issues were the most common, afflicting 40 of the 110 horses. The remaining horses were retired voluntarily.

The study team found that 108 of the 110 horses that were retired were repurposed–nearly 46 percent were used as performance horses in their next career. Two of the study horses could not be located. Horses that were retired without injury were 2.28 times more likely to find a performance-horse home.

At a 14-month follow up, it was discovered that four of the horses had been euthanized and one was sent to an abattoir after aggravating an old injury. No horses were euthanized or sent to the abattoir by their racing owner or trainer upon their retirement.

The team notes that long-term outcomes for the horses were not completed. They conclude there is insufficient control over the long-term welfare of retired racehorses.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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