Harness Racing Australia's New Welfare Initiative

26 August 2018
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HRA is committed to promoting positive pathways for Standardbred’s leaving the racing industry, whether it be to the breeding barn or as companion and competition horses for other pursuits.

Under the welfare focused banner of There Is No Finish Line, HRA’s Equine Health and Welfare Manager Kathleen Mullan is taking on the retraining of 10yo Village Jasper gelding Savesomtimetodream (better known as Buck) to showcase and educate the wider equestrian community on the transition from track to hack.

Buck was a successful racehorse netting earnings of just over $220,000 across a 113 start career for Ballarat & District Trotting Club CEO Paul Rowse. Buck retired sound and in good health in late 2017 and had a home for life with Rowse but Paul felt the horse had more to give and missed the routine of his old career and so offered him up to HRV’s HERO program who played a pivotal role in HRA’s search for a suitable horse for its project.

‘’I felt it was important that we tried to choose a horse that apart from fulfilling the basic criteria of conformation and soundness had also had a significant racing career and that the industry would recognise and be invested in seeing how he went in his transition. Within our family we have retrained a number of Standardbreds over the years including 279 start veteran Victory’s Phil so I knew that the number of starts was no barrier to success but needed to educate the equestrian community about this fact. It’s important to recognise that sound horses that have had zero starts or 6 starts or 260 starts can all easily go on to an equestrian career with the right training’ Kathleen said.

Buck’s transition from track to hack is being documented in a 6 part training series in Australia’s No.1 Equestrian Magazine Horse Deals as well as through detailed training videos of each stage of the process. The first of these training videos documents groundwork and the backing process and is due to be released on YouTube very shortly under HRA’s welfare channel There Is No Finish Line.

HRA is making these training resources freely available to the equestrian community where they will be of great assistance to the many less experienced people who are retraining their own Standardbreds under saddle.

‘The Standardbred’s placid, willing nature makes it an ideal horse for novice riders who may lack the skills needed to get their horse performing at its best under saddle, so these resources are aimed specifically at these riders who have expressed frustration at the lack of resources catering to the Standardbred and its particular traits. The industry focus on rehoming has grown exponentially in recent years and this project further highlights the great work that the harness racing industry does at every level to ensure their horses are well cared for in racing and beyond,’ said Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly.

Kathleen has also been invited to be a part of the Equitana Equine Expo’s education program in November where she will demonstrate Buck’s progress and the training techniques involved in a successful track to hack transition to an audience of thousands.

It is hoped that the results of this initiative and the subsequent publicity will assist those with Standardbreds to better fulfil their potential as equestrian mounts and thus further fuel the demand for this under-utilised breed in wider equestrian circles.  

Be sure to follow There Is No Finish Line on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest news or visit HRA’s welfare focused website www.thereisnofinishline.com.au for further information and to follow Savesomtimetodream as he continues his march toward a new career.

The There Is No Finish Line Retraining the Standardbred project is made possible by generous sponsors County Saddlery, 4Cyte Equine, Aldebaran Park, Petstock, Caribu Horse Wear, Yabby Dam Racing, Ballarat & District Trotting Club, Horsemate, Alabar Bloodstock, APG and Trot Australia.