Racehorse Retraining And Rehabilitation Process

When we get a new retired racehorse we follow a very specific process to make sure it can transition from its old lifestyle to a new one. If you’re a human who’s ever moved house you know this can be a stressful time, it’s no different for our equine friends. The wellbeing of our animals is paramount, so all animals go through the following process when they come to us.

Vet checking a horse

Step 1: Vet Check

The horses have a full vet check by our resident veterinary team. This includes any treatment or rehabilitation that the horse may require. Horses are checked for any signs of injury or illness and treated accordingly.

Step 2: Teeth, Feet, And Physiotherapy

Each horse has their teeth, feet and muscles attended to. Teeth are especially important for the horse to be able to chew correctly and receive correct nutrition. It is also important for when the horse has a bridle and bit put on.  As the saying goes, ‘No Foot No Horse’. Thoroughbred horses have notoriously small, flat and sometimes brittle feet. Our farrier inspects their feet and tailors a plan to improve the horses hoof health if required. Having been trained for fast work, horses’ muscles can often be tight and sore (just like humans who work out a lot!). So we have a qualified and highly experienced horse physio who assesses where the horses may be sore or other complications that may impact the horse’s comfort and retraining process.

A horse receiving physio therapy
Group of horses

Step 3: Holiday

If the horse has only just retired and recently raced, it is important for the horse to have a break. This is imperative so the horse can “let down.” Racehorses are very similar to elite level athletes and can be wound up quite tightly. Letting down is a term that means the horse’s muscles, organs and mind can relax. Most importantly, it gives the horses digestive system some time to adjust to a new diet that is not as high in energy.

Step 4: New Wardrobe

Each horse is expertly fitted with the equipment we need to retrain them. This includes fitting their bridle, bit and saddle correctly for maximum comfort.

Horse getting fitted with saddle

Step 5: Learning A New Language

Racehorses are ridden in a very different style to equestrian riding. Jockeys ride in a bridge hold with their reins and with their stirrups up very short so as not to interfere with the movement of the horse galloping. When we ride in equestrian disciplines we ride with our reins split (one rein in each hand) and with our stirrups a lot longer. We ask the horses to do specific movements with each hand and leg which is quite different to what a jockey would ask of them. It’s like we are teaching them a new language – a different method of communication. We begin by lunging and long reining to establish what the horses movement is like and get a feel of the sensitivity of the horses mouth. We teach them to be responsive to subtle hand movements. When we are confident that the horse is comfortable with these new hand signals, we get on. Each horse is given the opportunity to have their body adjust to being back under saddle. We gradually introduce a large variety of exercises over a period of time depending on how the horse is coping with their new exercise regime. Each horse is given as much time as they need to adjust, we don’t rush things.

Step 6: Equine Assisted Therapy

If the individual horse is suitable, they will be incorporated into our human therapy programs.

Woman kissing a horse

Step 7: Finding A New Home

When we are confident that each horse is ready to find a new home we advertise them through various media channels. We are very picky about where our horses go from our care. Many horse stay with us or go to other therapy horse organisations.

See Horses For Sale