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From racehorse to therapy horse – a second career?

by Laura Wienecke
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A study by the University of Bristol shows that racehorses can be trained as therapy horses instead of being euthanised or slaughtered.

Every year, more than 7000 racehorses end their careers in the UK. Many of them move on to eventing and leisure riding – but some are also euthanised or slaughtered. In many cases, the retired racehorses could be retrained as therapy horses, according to a study by the University of Bristol. The scientists want to develop an evidence-based standard for the selection and training of former racehorses.

“There is growing evidence of the benefits of equine-assisted services for humans,” says Dr Joanna Hockenhull. “I hope this project will show people that they (race horses) can have an amazing second career.” A racehorse’s career can last between 2 and 10 years. Since a Thoroughbred will live 25 to 30 years, the study is also crucial for their long-term well-being. Veterans and children with disabilities, as well as people struggling with mental health issues, could benefit from therapy horses.


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