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Longevity of the jumps horse becomes focus of equine welfare project

12/08/2020

Australian Jumps Racing Association (AJRA) have launched Life After Jumps Racing, an initiative based on a framework for traceability and communication with the jumps racing and equestrian community.

The demand to understand and raise awareness of the ‘life of a jumps horse’ during and after their retirement from racing is an important piece of the puzzle for equine welfare initiatives.

AJRA’s aims to educate racehorse owners on why owning a jumps horse can have long term benefits for the longevity of the thoroughbred.

The goal is to showcase the jumps horse as a desirable off the track thoroughbred by sharing their stories.

Within one month of the pilot program, the AJRA engaged with over 110 owners of retired jumps horses to discover their whereabouts and stories.

The fact that they have had a considerable amount of jumps schooling and other life experiences makes them desirable horses for equestrian, equine therapy and companions.

Such experience includes cross country, schooling, extensive travel & education whilst they are racing which goes far beyond the racetrack.

Having a long jumps campaign over a number of years allows versatility as generally they have learnt more with age and can be more sensible.

Jumps horses are often able to be trained for other disciplines because of their relaxed and willing to please attitude along with their fairly agile ability.

Gai Waterhouse among many other trainers and industry professionals speak of the importance of schooling and why jumping horses can be easier to retire; transitioning into a new life off the track.

“Teaching them to jump and introducing them to a new discipline does them the world of good, and I think this then stands them in good stead when they’re rehomed,” said Waterhouse.

“They’ve already got the experience of being retrained within racing, and so it makes them easier to retrain when they leave the industry and adopt a new career.”

With 80% of jumps trainers growing up with horses alongside 95% of trainers advocating that it is easy to rehome a jumps horse – the horsemanship driving the industry can be seen in the education of most jumpers.

“As we reach out to our community via word of mouth, through social media, and directly to our members and stakeholders it is important that this data is collated correctly,” said Marlee Horobin, the equestrian & racing professional leading the initiative within the not for profit.

“Matched with content, quality stories, education and awareness we hope the value of the jumps horse & it’s longevity can be recognised.”

This program sees the AJRA as being forward thinking in the approach towards the education of the longevity of the jumps horse.

Racing Victoria Equine Welfare General Manager, Jennifer Hughes, said it was great to see the jumps racing community take these steps to focus on the long-term future of every racehorse.

“Our goal is to find a suitable pathway for every retired racehorse. From the highly sought after to those that require some extra help finding a second career.

“As an industry we have a moral obligation to provide every horse the best possible opportunity following their racing career.

“Our equine welfare team will work with the jumps community to ensure its approach to ‘life after racing’ compliments the programs and initiatives outlined in our three-year equine welfare action plan announced in mid-2019,” Hughes said.

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