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Fate of ex racehorses

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  • #11957
    • Total Posts 14

    In the past 24 hours there’s been a lot of debate about the welfare issues of the Worcester abandonment and what Nicky Henderson’s motives for doping a horse. If racing really was bothered about welfare we’d be reading a lot more about what’s being done to relieve the shocking wastage of ex-racehorses – the huge volume of youngstock that is being euthanized before it even gets to the Sales and the horses that come out of training and, though fit young and healthy, end up with a similar fate. The industry massages these figures and the remark on the BHA website that “In the majority of cases, owners and trainers take a great deal of time and trouble to find suitable new homes for racehorses leaving their care” is a shameful untruth .In February Weatherbys produced a study for the BHA (reproduced in full below but without the pictures) which painted a rather different picture. No wonder it was hardly published anywhere. In summary, 3,500 of 7,500 horses that came out of training in 2006 were initially known to be dead or are untraceable and the document goes on to try and “project” what might have happened to them by asking trainers to speculate in an attempt to make the figures less horrendous!!!!! Why would the trainers know? They don’t accompany most of their horses to the Sales or follow up the bona fides of the buyers, how would they have time to do that?
    It’s also a joke to pretend the majority find new lives in the leisure riding industry. Less than 600 of the7,500 have been identified as ending up in the sport horse/recreation sector. If racing wants to attract a new audience it will have to do something about the fact that most non-racing, horse people deplore its throwaway culture. Not a single member of this Forum would abandon an unwanted puppy anonymously at a rescue centre yet the very people we are writing about on this Forum and are often in awe of are only two or three rungs away from doing that with their horses.
    A couple of months ago, the Racehorse Owners Association agreed to a 50p increase on the levy of entries to go to RoR, making it a total of £1. In the unlikely event a horse was entered for 40 races a year, that the equivalent of a bottle of cheap house champagne at Royal Ascot. Unbelievably the press release by the ROA called this “a burden.” I won’t dignify that with any further comment.

    Here is the full text of the Weatherbys investigation:
    A Career After Racing
    An investigation into the whereabouts of racehorses which left training in 2006
    This investigation has been carried out by Weatherbys to provide the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) with the best information readily available on the whereabouts of those racehorses which were recorded as leaving training in Britain in 2006 and which have not subsequently re-entered training in this country. Use has been made not only of the racing and breeding records available at Wellingborough but also of new sources of horse career data in the form of the recently launched National Equine Database (NED) and records of ex-racehorses registered with (ROR) for their own competition programmes.
    The Source Data
    Analysis was chiefly undertaken using the information held in the database at Wellingborough.
    The database houses an extensive range of information on the British and Irish bred Thoroughbred, from details of parentage, age and gender to current activity (either in training or at stud), sales prices, racecourse performance and records of foreign travel.
    Critical to this analysis, the database provides a comprehensive training history for each horse via the monthly ‘return’ which the trainer, in accordance with their licence, must file or update over the internet. This includes the date on which horses enter training and the date they leave together with the reason why (if known) each horse left training.
    The immediate fate of all horses leaving training permanently in Great Britain between the 1st January and the 31st December 2006 was chosen on the basis that this combined the merits of relatively recent training data with a time lag sufficient for the whereabouts of most horses to have become evident through future registration requirements.
    A total of 7,590 horses were identified as having left training permanently in 2006 equating to roughly a quarter of the total population of horses. The analysis showed that 29,319 individual horses were reported as being in training at some time during that year.
    This file of 7,590 horses was then cross-referenced to the following details held on the database:
    • Horses registered for Point-to-Pointing in Britain and those which competed in such races in Ireland.
    Details of permanent exportations.
    • Details of broodmare or stallion registrations in GB or IRE and/or records of covering.
    • Details of race results in the Channel Islands and Ireland (for which export certificates and passport endorsement need not apply).
    Notifications of death.
    • Ownership Updates for non-racing animals as required under DEFRA Passport Regulations provided to Weatherbys as the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) for Thoroughbreds.
    • Sales held at the major British, Irish and French Auction Houses.
    It was recognised that a horse may have a varied career path following retirement from racing. For example, a mare could conceivably Point-to-Point, retire to stud, and then be exported for breeding purposes. Care was therefore taken not to double count within the data. A comparison of the initial dates of any future registration/activity was undertaken for each horse and an ‘initial fate’ thereby ascertained and used.
    Confirmed Fates
    This analysis established with certainty the subsequent career path of 67% (5061) of horses recorded as leaving training in 2006. This left 2,529 horses (33%) for which no subsequent registrations or updates with Weatherbys had taken place.
    The latter file of horses – labelled ‘whereabouts unknown’ – was then sent both to the National Equine Database (NED) to be matched against their performance/database and to Retraining of Racehorses (ROR).
    NED reported that 65 horses on the file had been identified as having been registered with British Eventing (BE). Chief amongst these was former Grand National winner Bindaree. These 65 animals were therefore re-categorised under ‘Sport Horse/Recreation’ and the data file updated accordingly. (Please note: at the time of the study only BE data was held in a format at NED that enabled accurate comparison. It is envisioned that further data from the British Show Jumping Association (BSJA), British Dressage (BD) and other competition disciplines will be available at a future date at which point the results of the study will be updated).
    A similar cross referencing process was undertaken with ROR which identified a further 60 animals registered with them for competition purposes. These were again recategorised under Sport Horse/Recreation.
    This produced the following spread of whereabouts of the horses which left training in 2006:
    Exported 1168
    Racing in IRE & C. Islands 209
    Point to Point (GB) 703
    Point to Point (IRE) 40
    Sport Horse/Recreation 582
    Retired to Stud 1446
    Reported Dead 852
    Whereabouts Unknown 2404
    Sold at Auction – no further records 186
    Figure 1. Confirmed whereabouts of horses leaving training in 2006

    Whereabouts of Horses Leaving Training in 2006
    Sold at Auction – no Exported
    Point to Point (GB) Point to Point (IRE) Sport Horse/Recreation
    Further Projection
    This left 2,404 horses for which no confirmed post-racing career had been positively established. Unfortunately, unless and until further data on Sport/Recreational use of Thoroughbreds is available further analysis can only be undertaken by way of projection.
    One method explored was that of seeking to project numbers by recourse to the percentage of horses detailed under each category in Figure 1 (excluding those with ‘whereabouts unknown’).
    For example, the initial analysis had found that 852 horses had died. In percentage terms this equated to 16.42% of the established horse fates which would project that a further 395 horses may have died but Weatherbys had not been informed.
    This figure could be within the bounds of probability – however when the method is extended to other categories, such as ‘Retired to Stud’, it is shown to be flawed. A figure of 27.88% would have suggested that around 670 horses could be being used for breeding purposes (albeit not within the registered Thoroughbred Industry). Analysis of the sex of all 2404 ‘unknown’ horses showed this list comprised 731 breeding eligible horses i.e. colts and fillies – but if it had already been calculated that approximately 16.42% (120) of this sample were likely to have died, the final total would be 611 i.e. 59 less than the projected total.
    It was therefore concluded that the information supplied by licensed trainers at the point the horses left training should be utilised. This data is known as ‘Trainers’ Projections’.
    Trainer’s Projections
    The gathering of this information was made possible because of the initiative taken in 2004 by ROR. Working closely with the National Trainers Federation (NTF), British Horseracing Board (now BHA) and Weatherbys, ROR sought then to obtain statistics on the future careers of retired racehorses via the Weatherbys/BHB Horses in Training web-site. Before refining the projections on the basis of trainers’ returns an analysis was carried out to compare the trainers’ information on each horse against the confirmed fate for the horse. This analysis showed (leaving aside those animals that were reported as dead or had been exported for which the accuracy rate was close to 97%) an encouraging accuracy rate of 75%.
    Trainers are asked to choose from one of the following categories to indicate the reason why the horse has left training.
    • At Grass
    • Sent Home
    • To Another Trainer
    • Resting
    • Injured
    • Sold at Public Auction/Claimed
    • Sport Horse (Eventing/Polo)
    • For Recreation (Hacking)
    • To Point-to-Point
    • Retired Stud
    • Gone Abroad
    • Not advised (this relates to trainers return notifications only)
    Trainer notifications relating to the 2404 animals for which no confirmed career could be established were found to be as per the first column below. The figures were then pruned in line with the 75% accuracy figure (given by the comparison of all trainer notifi-cations with known fates – from official data on exports, stud records etc) to give an adjusted total (as shown in parentheses) N.B. the 75% adjustment was not applied to the ‘not advised’ total.
    At Grass 93 (70) Sent home 774 (581) To another trainer 33 (25) Resting 39 (29) Injured 48 (36) Sold at Public Auction 292 (219) Sport Horse (Eventing/Polo) 149 (112) Recreation (Hacking) 651 (486) Point-to-Point 24 (18) Retired to Stud 82 (62) Gone abroad 9 (7) Not Advised 210 (210)
    2,404 1,855
    The task now was to re-arrange these figures into more meaningful categories since,
    armed with knowledge that we could be certain of Weatherbys records on; training, stud,
    export and Point-to-Points, several of the above projections had clearly not transpired.
    The re-categorisation of these figures was determined as follows:
    1. Recreational/Sport Horse (1,339 horses) This comprised horses indicated as being thought to be: At Grass (70), Injured (36), Resting (29), Sent Home (581), Sent to Another Trainer (25) – together with those already indicated as Sport Horse (112) and Recreation (486).
    2. Breeding (non-racing) (62 horses) This category comprised horses initially reported as having been ‘retired to stud’ based on the theory that although Stud Book records could confirm these horses had never actually been registered to a Thoroughbred Stud never the less this did not discount the prospect that they had bred un-registered foals.
    3. Gone Hunting (18 horses) These comprised the horses listed as having gone to Point-to-Point but of which no evidence Hunter Certificate Registration nor Point-to-Point Registration could be found
    4. Sold at a Minor Sale (219 horses) These comprised the horses indicated as having been sold at ‘Public Auction’ as sales database records discounted the possibility of these horses having passed through the ring of any major Thoroughbred Sale.
    5. Abroad (Non-Racing) (7 horses) These comprised the horses indicated as having ‘Gone Abroad’ since there was no evidence of exportation for racing/breeding purposes.
    6. Whereabouts Unknown (759 horses) These comprised the remaining 210 animals for which no indication of their future whereabouts had been given by Trainers and 549 horses for which the projection weighting technique had discounted the trainers’ notification from being accurate.
    Finally, a composite analysis was produced by combining the figures of established fates (Fig 1) with the projected fates overleaf/page 7; as shown below in tabulated form
    and in Figure 2 below.
    Sport Horse/Recreation 1921
    Point to Point (GB) 703
    Point to Point (IRE) 40
    Gone Hunting 18
    Abroad (non-racing) 7
    Retired to Stud 1446
    Breeding (non-racing) 62
    Exported 1168
    Racing in IRE & C. Islands 209
    Sold at major Auction – no further records 186
    Sold at minor Auction 219
    Reported Dead 852
    Unknown 759
    Figure 2 Composite of horse whereabouts in 2006
    Composite of Horse Whereabouts in 2006
    Unknown Horse/Recreation
    Auction Point to Point (GB)
    Point to Point (IRE) Gone Hunting Abroad (non-racing)
    1. It has been determined that 7590 horses left training during 2006.
    2. The subsequent career path of 67% (5186) of these horses has been established with certainty.
    3. 852 (11%) have been confirmed as having died, 1446 (19%) as having retired to stud and 1168 (15.4%) animals had been exported for breeding/racing purposes.
    4. No subsequent registrations or updates were found for 2404 animals.
    5. Utilising information provided by licensed trainers these 2404 animals have been placed in relevant categories for sake of completeness leaving 10% of the original 7590 horses that left training with no reported destination.
    6. The report will be updated again once more information is available at the National Equine Database.
    With thanks to: Annie Dodd – British Horseracing Authority Di Arbuthnot – Retraining Of Racehorses Nick Wallbridge – National Equine Database

    • Total Posts 608

    I have heard of trainers shooting horses which are injured and cannot run well or sending them too hunts too fed be too the hounds…

    Slaughter for human or pet consumption is another..

    • Total Posts 329

    Regarding the obigatory donation rise. Why should owners who DO care about, and provide/sort out after racing care for their horses fund those who don’t?
    Not all owners are made of money. Yet it is those that aren’t who mostly ensure a good life for their horses.
    Educating owners is the key, far too many go into it blind without a clue and are led astray by money grabbing trainers.

    • Total Posts 14

    I quite agree with Cheekster – that those that can least afford it are often the ones that do their best for the horses’ future – but if everyone was as diligent as Happy about re-homing their horses, those Weatherbys figures would be grossly exaggerated, wouldn’t they?

    • Total Posts 2924

    "Educating owners is the key, far too many go into it blind without a clue and are led astray by money grabbing trainers"

    Would agree entirely with the first sentiment in that sentence but the second one is a bit harsh, in my opinion.


    • Total Posts 4825

    Anyone know what happened to the most famous horse not in training, Moonlight Path?

    • Total Posts 2924

    Can I assume you mean Moonlit Path?

    She was last seen at Aintree on May 15th. where she was pulled up, SP 11/1.


    • Total Posts 4825

    The Queen’s racing advisor is quoted in yesterdays Times, Seabird.

    "Moonlit Path was unplaced at Huntingdon behind an odds-on favourite, also trained by Henderson, and her racing days are over. Oswald explained: “She hasn’t got what it takes and she will not go back into training."

    Wonder what will happen to her?

    Irish Stamp
    • Total Posts 3177

    Broodmare for the Queen?

    For those who are fans of happy stories – the ex-G1 winner for Godolphin

    Ashkal Way

    is sweeping all before him in dressage tests over in the US. Think from what I read he’s now 3/3 in his new career :D

    • Total Posts 14

    Where’s the welfare benefit of breeding from a known bleeder? There is enough indiscriminate breeding going on with horses that are fundamentally unsound and likely to pass these weaknesses on to the next generation, thereby exacerbating the re-homing issue.
    Thanks are due to the members who have troubled to read this posting and make a reply. Though I hope that just nine replies is not a true barometer of industry concern on this important subject.

    • Total Posts 6212

    Clare, I agree with you about breeding from unsound horses, but the apparent slight against members of this forum was uncalled for. I’m sure there is plenty of concern for the after racing care of thoroughbreds amongst regular contributors.

    If you want to give a better chance of soundness in subsequent generations you are better breeding from a horse that retired at 5 or 6 after serious campaigning over a number of seasons. That way at least you have a base of an animal which has retained its soundness and robustness. Instead what we get is 3yos who are tiptoed through a career to retain their value before being retired.

    Net result is that owners at the top end of the market cash in on their charges’ racecourse success, while the strength of the breed is further diminished. The prime motivating force, as in so many ways of life, is not the future of the activity but how much money can be made.

    As an aside I’m pleased to say that my brother has taken charge of a number of ex-racehorses. I saw a couple of them a while back enjoying life in a nice big field with a Shetland pony as companion. Mum has a retired greyhound as a pet.


    • Total Posts 205

    A racehorse is not just a key to open the doors to socialize at a racecourse.

    A racecourse should be for life.

    • Total Posts 1665

    I’m all in favour of racehorses being given a happy and healthy retirement wherever possible, but it seems to me that there’s a question about who should be responsible "for life", as Tom puts it.

    Should it be the breeder, the pinhooker, the bloodstock agent, or the subsequent owner(s) of the horse when it’s in training, ie at what point in the animal’s life does the "for life" thing kick in? (Of course the same could be asked about cats or dogs, and other "pets").

    • Total Posts 8373

    Could I just ask Clare what she herself is actually doing for horse welfare other than trying to educate people on this forum, most of whom, to my knowledge care deeply about horses. I find it quite hurtful that someone implies that I go racing but don’t care about the horses.

    % MAN
    • Total Posts 5104

    Perhaps Clare and Tom are a double act?

    • Total Posts 175

    Thanks are due to the members who have troubled to read this posting and make a reply. Though I hope that just nine replies is not a true barometer of industry concern on this important subject.

    I think that it is more a sign of weariness than lack of compassion. Responsible owners & their efforts will always be ignored as long as people can find examples of poor practice. Racing, like every industry, has its share of good & bad practice. All one can do is ensure that if one is the person in charge of a horse when it meets the end of its racing life that it is adequately & appropriately re-homed….whilst accepting that one bad apple will lead non supporters of racing to tar us all with the same brush.

    • Total Posts 467

    IMO Too much racing has got to be part of this problem in that the over production of racehorses that follows inevitably means that there is bound to be a shortage of places for them all to go at the end of their careers.

    I also think more money could be creamed off the very top of the prizemoney of the very top races ( Derby £700k Eclipse £283K to the winner etc) to fund schemes that look after ex racehorses.

    The BHA would be far better off funding a scheme that ensures that all racehorses have a future that does not involve cruelty or abandonment rather than funding low grade racing for the principle benefit of bookies or funding the opening of new racetracks which IMO are not needed.

    Yes,all of this will cost jobs but I think losing low paid jobs ultimately built on the back of cruelty to a significant number of animals is worth it in order for Racing to be able to live with itself.

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