When a horse is retired from racing or is not fast enough or unsuitable to race for any number of reasons, the trainers first point of contact is usually their selected Rehomer.
My name is Genevieve Crawford, and I have been rehoming Standardbreds since I was 13 years old. After my grandfather passed away, he left a paddock of broodmares behind that, and I decided all deserved to carry on living. Since then, I have been trying to change the future for ex-racehorses. I have held a junior driver's license, and have a love for the industry, but rehoming horses and setting them up for their future is my true passion.
At this current time, I am working on rehoming my 260th Standardbred.
My grandfather told me when I was six years old;
"saving one horse won't change the world, but it will change the whole world for that one horse."
This is my process of rehoming a horse.
When these horses arrive at my place, the first thing I do is assess their condition, nature, feet, teeth, and general health. I usually ride them straight away, so I know what I'm dealing with, and I can often tell on the first ride how suitable they are to be rehomed.
After this first assessment, I can make a call on:
The next step for these horses is learning how to live in a big paddock, often in a heard situation, on hills and with waterways.
Many people think that walking up and down a hill and through rivers is a natural thing for a horse, but after living on a flat training property their whole life, a mountain is a whole new world. Their brains aren't the only thing that needs adjusting. Their bodies take a while to adapt to the different environment as well.
Over the next few weeks, these horses spend their days getting ridden on an average of 1-2 hours a day adjusting to getting ridden alone, in groups, on roads, in big open spaces, going through creeks and waterways, and for some schooling and jumping.
Most horses spend around 3/4 weeks preparing for a new home with me, to ensure they have experienced a lot of the things they will encounter in their new homes, so we can overcome or correct any issues that need dealing with in a safe environment.
Once the horse appears to be ready, I will usually try to find a home through word of mouth, but do also advertise on my private Facebook group so I can ensure the homes are suitable. The horse doesn't wind up in an unsuitable environment.
I offer a three week trial for most horses so the buyer can decide whether they get along with the horse before committing to buying them.
This keeps my mind at ease, knowing the horse and buyer get a good feel of each other before committing long term. Occasionally trials don't work out, which is precisely why I continue to offer them. If this person had brought the horse then decided later they don't like it, they often are not experienced in finding homes and can misplace a horse, which can lead to a whole lot of issues in the future.
Most new owners keep me updated with their horse's progress. They often message or call me asking for advice. If they can no longer keep the horse, they sometimes give them back to me to rehome them again, or I sell them on behalf.
If the horse is unsuitable to be rehomed, which does happen from time to time, it is usually because they are not safe enough in the saddle or on the ground.
If I decide a horse isn't suitable, I contact the trainer or owner and ask what they want done with them, and on their go-ahead, they are put down on our property humanely, or they are returned to them.
Sometimes these horses can be rehomed as paddock mates, but you never know where they will end up in the future. If they are going to struggle to stay healthy, or sound, I believe it is better for their welfare to be put down than end up neglected or mistreated somewhere.
All of my horses get a visit from a chiropractor or vet if I suspect something is wrong that may be making them behave irrationally before any call is made. Still, usually, it is their nature that determines their future.
Unfortunately, we need to remember that not all racehorses are bred for their good nature, and some are just not suitable to be rehomed.
They are still treated and fed like any other horse on the property until they are put down or returned. This is why the cost of a horse that isn't suitable is still similar to the one that is, especially if they have been ridden for two weeks with the hope they improve.
The cost of rehoming is different for every horse. Some come with brand new shoes and are healthy, sensible, and ready to go, and others come needing a bit more care and time.
On average most of these horses are due for a few things that are listed below, and some are just requirements.
Shoe removal/trim: $45
Shoes if they have soft feet: $140
Chiropractor if something doesn't seem right: $90
Feed for three weeks: $150
Transport can vary depending on location.
Among this is an average of 25 hours spent riding each horse over 3-4 weeks.
Rehoming is a much bigger commitment than most people realize, but it is something I am truly passionate about. These horses give a lot for us, and it is only fair that we can give them the best chance at succeeding in life after racing.