Retiring & re-homing thoroughbreds

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s vision for thoroughbred welfare

“A thoroughbred should be provided a good life, with the care and conditions that will allow the horse to thrive and perform to its natural abilities, with minimal discomfort and an absence of suffering.”

Responsible re-homing of thoroughbreds is an important issue for racing internationally.  New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing is committed to ensuring that as many of our horses as possible are retrained and re-homed for second careers as sport or pleasure horses. This includes horses that are bred but not deemed competitive early or late in their expected racing career, as well as retired thoroughbreds.

Welfare concerns may arise where:
  • Owners do not have sufficient financial resources, facilities, or knowledge to properly care for horses that do not progress to, or are retired from racing or breeding
  • Horses are engaged in post racing activities for which they are not physically suited due to pre-existing injuries or inherent capabilities
  • Uncompetitive horses become neglected or are thoughtlessly given away to unsuitable new owners.
NZTR attends the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR), which aims to promote retraining racehorses.  We’ve also partnered with various groups to promote the versatility of thoroughbreds.

NZTR and Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) launched a joint initiative in 2014 called Thoroughbreds in Equestrian Sport (TiES), aimed at increasing opportunities for second careers for thoroughbred horses retiring from racing. 

TiES holds annual national competitions offering prizes to the most successful thoroughbred in the following equestrian sports categories: 
Thoroughbreds In Equestration Sport
  • Show jumping and show hunter
  • Eventing
  • Dressage.
A similar initiative is NZTR’s association with the NZ Show Horse Council and sponsorship of the Off the Track Show Horse series.

NZTR also sponsors Beyond the Barriers which is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to educate people regards the care of retired thoroughbred, retrained as a pleasure or sporthorse.

As at late 2017 NZTR does not have sufficiently robust data to trace our thoroughbred population in a comprehensive manner or to confirm the numbers of horses that are successfully re-homed at the end of their racing careers. Through 2018, NZTR will conduct a range of initiatives that aim to resolve this shortcoming.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will:
  • Amend the Rules of Racing to create a duty of care for retiring and rehoming thoroughbreds
  • Consult with reputable re-homing operators and relevant sector groups and agencies to develop a plan to support re-homing operators
  • Providing supporting material for the people who receive the retrained thoroughbreds covering feeding, grooming and all round care of thoroughbreds
  • Provide support for initiatives that showcase the versatility of thoroughbreds, including TiES and the Off the Track Show Horse Series
  • Support objective research that identifies why horses do not start racing, or leave racing and breeding
  • Support objective research that identifies the activities that retrained horses participate in.