A day dedicated to the retraining of racehorses took place on Saturday September 11 in Chantilly. The opportunity to discover the work of the association Beyond the tracks which works so that thoroughbreds have a second life at the end of their career.
They are often horses with impressive careers, who, after treading the tracks of racecourses around the world, retire from competition like real athletes. Only today, is there a second life for racehorses?
The association Beyond the tracks, created in 2016, strives to show that the retraining of these horses is possible by supporting rehabilitation centers and promoting its actions to the general public.
It is in this context that a day dedicated to the retraining of the horse took place on Saturday September 11 in Chantilly in the Oise. The opportunity to discover all the possibilities available to equines after the end of their career such as dressage, show jumping, horse-ball or polo.
Many conversion possibilities
Racehorses can have a more or less long career depending on their discipline and their performance. “A flat horse can continue to race until 5 or 6 years old and show jumping horses until 12 years old, but sometimes they can be very young, three or four years old“, says Nemone Routh, treasurer of the association Beyond the tracks.
Hence the need to think ahead. “In general, the best racehorses are kept for breeding, especially females, or they are bought by their training riders. The stereotype of the truck going to the butcher’s is quite outdated, to be honest“, confides Carole Desmetz, communication and events manager of the association.
Once taken care of in a rehabilitation center, several possibilities are offered to them, with why not the start of a new career. “We have selected 25 structures in France which deal with this reconversion, some are specialized in convalescence, others in horse-ball or eventing. Some are also training centers for student instructors, thoroughbreds lend themselves very well to this game.“, explains Carole Desmetz.
“We make them understand that it is for them that we do this“
A phase of adaptation and transition is thus necessary to relearn certain codes. “At first, you have to do a complete check-up of the horses to see if there are things that happened during the races and thus be able to start a good conversion. Then, you have to go back to the basics, as for a young horseexplains Charlotte Jean-Jean, eventing and dressage rider at the rehabilitation center of the Boissière stables in Seine-et-Marne. They are horses who adapt well to everything, who are very intelligent, so once we make them understand that we are doing this for them, they can go very far. Sometimes we do not even make the difference between a reformed race and a French saddle who has the same education.“
Contrary to some a priori, the racehorse would thus prove to be very malleable and would accept this new activity without difficulty. “We always tell ourselves that racehorses can be a bit hot or complicated. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as they were called upon very young, they are horses capable of understanding very quickly what is asked of them.“, adds Carole Desmetz.
The protection and traceability of the animal ensured
Once the horses have been introduced to their new discipline, they can be placed and then sold to new owners, according to a contract which commits them to respecting animal welfare. The association Beyond the tracks thus ensures the follow-up in partnership with France Galop, company organizing horse races in France. “We take care in particular of the administrative part: the change of papers, the protection against slaughter and the restriction of exploitation, we thus ensure that the horse has definitively stopped its racing career, explains the communication manager of the association. If the horses are subsequently resold, the owners also promise to give us the new contact details.”
As a bonus, the association undertakes to raise funds to participate in the convalescence of these injured horses. “People have a very bad image of racing when it’s not the idea at all, we really make sure to be the link between this career and their new life”, she concludes.