Horse Welfare Board’s ‘Aftercare Funding Review’ recommends strategic approach to aftercare in Britain, covering any horse bred for racing

25 Mar 2021 BHA Features Welfare

The Horse Welfare Board (HWB) has today published its report into the funding and management of the racehorse aftercare sector with clear recommendations aimed at further improving outcomes for racehorses and equine welfare. The Review’s recommendations focus on seven key areas to improve the aftercare sector: Funding; Focus and Integration; Traceability and data; Accreditation; Community; Education; Communication and are designed to cover any horse bred for racing. A full list of the recommendations is available here.

The report has expanded beyond its original funding remit to ensure its recommendations properly accounted for wider sentiment regarding aftercare in racing. The project was fully funded by the Racing Foundation as part of their commitment to support horse welfare as a key area within the racing industry.

The report makes recommendations that will significantly reform the structure of aftercare provision and build trust in racing’s equine welfare processes. The report recognises:

  • The need for one organisation to have strategic ownership of aftercare on behalf of the industry – and to work with racing’s stakeholders and the aftercare sector to ensure there is a sustainable resourcing and funding model and mechanism in place to support the entire landscape. Following discussions with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), it is believed that they are best placed to take on this expanded role.
  • That this strategic approach should follow the principle set out in the HWB strategy – the responsibility towards all horses bred for racing, with a particular focus initially on the first step away from the industry.
  • That this strategic approach requires strong join‐up with all racing’s major stakeholders, including with the breeding sector and with the developing work on lifetime traceability.
  • That the industry wants positive outcomes for its horses, recognises its responsibilities in this area, and would be strongly supportive of the changes RoR would need to make in order to take on that central strategy and delivery role.

The review of aftercare funding by the Horse Welfare Board was undertaken as part of recommendations made by the HWB’s ‘A Life Well Lived’ strategy and focussed on ensuring the sustainability of racehorse aftercare.

The project team responsible for the writing of the review reports to the Horse Welfare Board via an industry-resourced steering group.

Demonstrate lifetime commitment

Barry Johnson, Chair of the Horse Welfare Board, said: “Racing has continued to put welfare at the forefront of the sport and this review’s recommendations will continue to ensure we support that progress. We can see that there is much to do to ensure that British racing remains a world leader in equine welfare. From filling our data gaps to ensuring that we see and can monitor a horse prior to their racing life and during retirement will be a vital part of giving horses a good life beyond racing. I am looking forward to building on these recommendations and working with RoR and other stakeholders in the aftercare sector.”

Philip Freedman, Chairman of Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), said: “The Trustees of RoR welcome the publication of the Aftercare Funding Review. In particular we are pleased that the Horse Welfare Board recognises RoR as the organisation most suited to develop an expanded and broader Aftercare role on behalf of British racing.

“We also welcome recognition for the important work RoR has done in generating an expanding market for former racehorses across a range of equestrian disciplines. Incorporating into the charity’s remit “any horse bred for racing” will not only substantially increase the number of horses benefitting from our activities, it will require changes to our Charitable Objectives, and necessitate a review of our funding, structure and responsibilities. To that end we are looking to appoint an independent consultant, with experience in the field of equine welfare, to advise the Trustees on the implications of these changes and how they should best be addressed, in order that we can take the necessary measures.

“Integral to the success of implementing the Review’s recommendations will be the support and collaboration of the whole industry, notably in addressing the funding and data gaps identified in the report. To that end, we look forward to working closely with the Horse Welfare Board so that going forward we continue to build the demand for Thoroughbreds outside of racing, a strategy which has served the sport well in minimising the number of the horses that subsequently require charitable support from RoR.”

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA and Chair of the Aftercare Funding Steering Group, said: “I would like to thank the review team and all the review’s participants for their diligence and time to help shed light on the opportunities the industry has to improve aftercare in Britain.

“We have a lifetime commitment to horses bred for racing. As our sport continues to grow and modernise, we have to keep our focus on welfare. Improving the funding, management and data collection will help the aftercare sector immeasurably. I know that owners past present and future believe that that the welfare of a horse beyond racing is just as rewarding as its racing life. These recommendations will go a long way to continuing to build on a first-class aftercare sector.”

Rob Hezel, Chief Executive of the Racing Foundation, said: “At the Racing Foundation, our aim is to be a catalyst for change within the racing industry by offering grants where they can have the biggest impact.

“The Racing Foundation are committed to support the Horse Welfare Board and the implementation of its strategy ‘A Life Well Lived’. We were pleased to fund the Aftercare Funding Review and welcome its publication.

“We look forward to collaborating with the HWB, RoR and other stakeholders to ensure the recommendations within it are delivered in a timely manner.”

The Aftercare Funding Review recommendations can be found below and here.

For further information, please contact:

Horse Welfare Board
Barry Johnson
[email protected]

Charlie Liverton
Chief Executive
[email protected]

Pip Kirkby
[email protected]

Di Arbuthnot
Chief Executive
[email protected]