If you think of Victoria racing in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is almost certainly the first thing to pop into your mind. But did you know the Australian state’s Racing Victoria organization is also a big supporter of racehorse aftercare and even has an aftercare program called Off The Track?
The Australian state of Victoria sees many horses race at its more than 50 tracks with more than 3,000 retiring every year and the majority looking for second careers. To assist the racehorses in making the leap from racehorse to performance horse, in 2012 Racing Victoria decided to take its previous commitment to equine welfare even further when they created the Off The Track program.
“The program aims to drive demand for retired Thoroughbred racehorses as pleasure and performance horses, and facilitates the placement of retired racehorses in second careers by assisting industry participants and educating the community about the post-racing options, versatility, and the appropriate care and retraining required,” said Lauren Maggs, equine welfare coordinator for Racing Victoria.
One interesting component of Off The Track’s structure is that a major part of it focuses on creating sponsorships to encourage incentives for off-track Thoroughbreds.
“Racing Victoria has formed sponsorship arrangements with Equestrian Victoria (EV), Pony Club Association of Victoria (PCAV), the Horse Riding Clubs Association of Victoria (HRCAV), and others to ensure suitable incentives exist for re-educating and riding Off The Track horses,” Maggs said.
This has led to more than 11,000 retired horses taking part in more 400 events around Victoria with many retired racehorse re-trainers also listed on the Racing Victoria site. That network helps horse racing trainers find second careers for their horses in addition to playing a connection between racing and other equestrian disciplines when people are looking for horses.
While Off The Track has made big strides in only its five years of operation, it doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Its long-term goals are to increase the number of retired racehorses who are retrained every year, to promote retired racehorses to the many equestrians in Australia, and to provide education for those who buy retired racehorses.
The program is fully funded by Racing Victoria, so donations aren’t needed. Maggs says the best way people can support the program is actually through social media.
“The program seeks opportunities to share its success stories through traditional and social media, as well as consistently promoting the attributes of Thoroughbred horses. The best way for people to support the program is to support Off The Track horses and follow their progress, attend events in which Off The Track horses are competing, and engage with the program through social media,” she said.
For those who want to know more about Off The Track, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram with the handle RV_OffTheTrack, on Facebook. Or check out Off The Track’s website at https://rv.racing.com/the-horse/off-the-track.