A One Year Reflection on OTI’s Equine Welfare Program

November marks the first anniversary of OTI’s Equine Welfare Program, and we are proud to announce that since the program’s inception, we have rehomed twenty-two retired racehorses.

Our Equine Welfare Participants have been rehomed to locations all over Australia and entered new phases of their lives in a variety of different roles. The program’s first year has seen five of our retired horses commence life post-racing as ponies, along with two show horses, a weaning and agistment partner, a nanny and even a Living Legends resident in Tom Melbourne.

In establishing this unique program, our central goal was and has remains, to ensure the life-long welfare of our thoroughbreds. To satisfy this objective, a range of initiatives have been established over the program’s first year. These comprise of our tracking register of past horses, routine 6-monthly check-ins on the health of the horse and the establishment of an equine welfare fund to provide financial assistance to new owners.

When horses leave the care of OTI, they enter our tracking register which maintains detailed records of the horse’s location, contact details for the new owner and routine check-ins. Upon receiving the horse, new owners have been extremely cooperative in completing our welfare agreement form, whereby they concur to provide regular updates on their horse’s health and condition. Whilst COVID-19 restrictions have limited our ability to conduct physical inspections on our past horses, we have completed these digitally.

Our equine welfare fund has played a significant role in delivering financial assistance to new owners under a range of circumstances. Payments towards transport, agistment and health care have all been subsidised by our fund in the program’s first year.

Recently, former racehorse Romanesque was subject to a life-threatening infection after becoming cast. Fortunately, with a combined contribution from our welfare fund along with his new owner Kelly Dubberley, successful surgery was able to be performed.

“The big boy had the biggest win of his life with vets initially giving him only a 35-40% chance of pulling through,” Kelly told us following the operation.

“Romanesque is now a part of our family, and he deserves the best; you could not get a gentler 500kg beast,” he added.

Not only are new owners offered financial assistance, but they are also assured ongoing advice in regard to vet care to combat health issues for their horse. Already, this advice has proved extremely valuable to owners, with the team at OTI providing essential solutions to lingering issues faced by our retired horses.

In recent times, the heightened pressure upon the racing industry has seen horse welfare become imperative in re-shaping the industry’s image to the wider public. At OTI, we are incredibly proud to implement our welfare initiatives and believe driving these standards is crucial in promoting a positive reputation for racing and ensuring its long-term sustainability.

We owe the program’s tremendous success to the continuous support and co-operation of our new owners, who have allowed us to deliver so many feel-good stories.

We look forward to continuing our Equine Welfare Program and rehoming retired racehorses for many years to come. 

Campbell Wansbrough
Equine Welfare Co-ordinator