When a new horse first arrives at the Centre it will be thoroughly examined by Nigel Dunger, our Yard Manager.
It is not uncommon for a retired racehorse to be suffering from some level of bone stress or tendon injury. If this is the case, then Nigel will decide on a course of treatment to return the horse to good health.
The horse will complete a period in isolation, typical to arriving at any new yard, to ensure it is not incubating any infectious medical conditions which might affect the other horses at the Centre.
Establishing a relationship
This period of peace and quiet allows time for the horse to become acclimatised to their new surroundings and their diet gradually changed to suit the new routine. Their general attitude can be assessed, and they can begin to establish relationships with their new carers.
The next step, subject to soundness, will see the horse being put into light work, leading on to being ridden by Nigel. When he feels the horse is making progress towards a change from the riding style essential to competitive racing, to the safer style required for general riding, the horse will be ridden by other members of staff.
The new horse will also be turned out to share a paddock with other horses to establish new relationships.
Determining the level of challenge is a top priority
During this time, assessment will continue as Nigel and his team looks to work out what future would best suit the horse. The modern racehorse has been bred to have an active life, so the top priority for the team will be to determine the level of challenge most suited to our new ex-racehorse so that they will be happier in retirement. Options for them can be in the form of a number of equine disciplines including hacking, dressage or showjumping.
Even horses with long-term injuries will be given the time and treatment needed to recover and should the horse still be unsuitable for ridden work it will be found a home as a companion horse.
Only when Nigel is satisfied that the horse is ready and safe to move beyond the assessment stage, will the team start a personalised programme of retraining.