Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) today unveiled its multi-purpose racehorse welfare facility, the Off the Track WA (OTTWA) Estate, with the announcement that two of the first horses transitioning through its retraining program will be donated to HorsePower Australia.
The Estate will be used to facilitate the retraining of retired racehorses through RWWA’s OTTWA Retraining Program, as well as host clinics and events to further support owners transitioning their retired racehorses to equestrian and pleasure pursuits. The Estate will also ensure sufficient space is available at all times for any emergency welfare cases, should they arise.
RWWA CEO Richard Burt said the Estate and the retraining program not only forms a central part of RWWA’s welfare plan, but it also allows for racing to continue to support important organisations such as HorsePower.
“In August, we announced an additional $80,000 in support to HorsePower to assist them in continuing to provide people with disabilities access to therapeutic horse-related activities,” Mr Burt said.
“With the launch of our new retraining program we have also selected two standardbreds that meet the initial criteria for HorsePower, and if they meet the standards required to be a therapy horse following the retraining process, they will be donated to HorsePower’s Peel centre.”
HorsePower Australia Executive Officer Kelly Mansfield said she is looking forward to welcoming more retired racehorses to their team.
“HorsePower Australia is grateful to continue its partnership with RWWA, and help more centres across the state harness the therapeutic power of horses,” Ms Mansfield said.
“At HorsePower we see time and time again how horses can assist in transforming the physical health and emotional wellbeing of people with disabilities, emotional and social challenges, and we are very excited to be adding some more power to our herd with horses from the OTTWA Retraining Program.”
Horses accepted into the program undergo an evaluation upon arrival at the Estate, which has capacity for up to 40 horses, before being allocated to an off-site Official Retrainer, who works to provide retired racehorses with the necessary skills and experiences needed to transition from racing to their second career as a pleasure or performance horse. Horses may also return to the facility following their retraining to be sold from the Estate.
Further to this, horses allocated to off-site Official Retrainers will accommodate an additional eight horses, with the retrainers’ capacity expected to increase over the next six to 12 months.
The program endeavours to complement already established pathways for rehoming retired racehorses, with preference given to horses which may be more challenging to rehome, such as those located in remote areas.
Earlier this year RWWA also launched an Off the Track WA website dedicated to support retired racehorses and their owners. The website includes information about retraining programs, upcoming clinics and events, educational material and a buy-and-sell function for retired racehorses.
To further support the WA Racehorse Welfare Plan, RWWA recently launched the OTTWA Passport program, an initiative designed to address the area of traceability, in order to better understand the location and life of retired racehorses once they leave the racing industry.
The Minister for Racing and Gaming the Hon. Paul Papalia said that he was pleased with RWWA’s progress in implementing the WA Racehorse Welfare Plan.
“The official launch of the Off the Track WA Estate is a brilliant milestone in the State Government’s work to elevate Western Australia’s racehorse welfare standards to the highest in the country.”
“It is important that we adhere to the best standards of animal welfare and care, and I thank animal welfare advocates and the racing industry for their support of this initiative.”
“The Estate will assist retired horses to move into new pathways – benefitting the animals and the many Western Australians who will enjoy the companionship they are able to offer.”
So far RWWA has invested more than $2.7 million into the implementation of the WA Racehorse Welfare Plan.
Further details regarding RWWA’s WA Racehorse Welfare Plan can be found here.