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Safeguarding a horse's future

RoR is often asked if there is anything that can be done to safeguard the future of a horse that is to be sold out of racing. It is rarely possible to guarantee what the future may hold for a horse passed on in this way as it could easily find itself being passed on again and circumstances do change.

Based on the experiences of owners and trainers, RoR and NTF have put together the following recommendations for passing on a horse to the sport horse or hacking market to help ensure the horse has a well cared for life after racing.

Check list for owners and trainers for selling or loaning a retired racehorse to the sport horse market

  • Only give or sell a horse to a responsible person. If they are not known to you, ask for a written reference from a vet, riding instructor or someone else you trust. If you choose to offer your horse “free to a good home”, you may find yourself receiving enquiries from well-intentioned but not necessarily suitability experienced people. Also you may be contacted by someone who does not intend to keep your horse but see it as a means of making a quick profit. Former racehorses do have a value.
  • Register a BHA Non-Racing Agreement with Weatherbys to protect the horse from returning to the racecourse. Registration is free and copies are available on the Weatherbys website. In addition, a sale contract can be drawn up between the parties which can include a clause giving the vendor a right of first refusal on any future sale. However, it could be difficult to actually enforce such clause so you may like to consult with a solicitor for advice.
  • Check that the new owner has public liability insurance, which will minimise the likelihood of any claim for liability reverting to the original owner or trainer. (If asked, recommend BHS Gold Membership, which gives excellent, inexpensive public liability and personal accident cover.)
  • Ask if veterinary insurance cover will be in place for the horse. If not suggest this is done. This should minimise the possibility of any comeback to the original owner or trainer if a problem occurs in retraining.
  • Ask the new owner to read all the information on retraining and horse care available on the RoR website, and encourage them to contact the RoR Helpline for one-to-one in depth advice on any problems encountered by the new owner.
  • Advise the new owner to register the horse with RoR to ensure they have access to any workshops or clinics in their area as well as being aware of all the sport horse series where ex-racehorses can win prizes.
  • Ask the new owner to give you feedback on their progress with their new horse. After three months, visit (or ask someone else to visit) to check the horses health and welfare. Alternatively ask for a photograph to be sent to you.
  • In the horse’s passport put a note of the dates the horse was last wormed and had its teeth checked and any other information that will help the new owner.

Protecting horses gifted out of Racing

  • The NTF has produced a template 'deed of gift' that you can download here. This template is designed for owners when gifting racehorses out of racing, to ensure safety and the ability to place restrictions upon the new owner selling or otherwise disposing of the horse, without the owners consent.

    Following these guidelines should reduce the risk of future owners encountering problems with their former racehorse and reverting to its former owner or trainer.

Tips for anyone looking to find a new home for their horse

World Horse Welfare and RoR have put together the following list of tips to help safeguard your horse’s future, whether directly out of training or already retrained:

  • Be wary of any organisation or individual contacting you to offer to take your horse. Some unscrupulous people will prey on anyone advertising their horse as a companion and may not always be what they seem.
  • Do your research. Social media and the huge amount of content online is an invaluable resource in researching any individual or organisation. Ask other horse owners for advice as personal recommendations can be the best way to give you peace of mind.
  • If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of an organisation or individual, ask which professionals they use (vet, farrier, dentist, physio, etc) and then contact these people to ask for their feedback.
  • Any organisation operating as a charity must be registered and possess a registered charity number. You can search for registered charities using the Charity Commission website http://apps.charitycommission....
  • Not-for-profit organisations are not required to be registered with any central body and are largely unregulated, however all riding schools and equestrian centres must be licenced and this can be checked with your local council.
  • When transferring ownership of a horse, it is the legal responsibility of the new owner to notify the passport issuing organisation (PIO) but you can also contact the PIO so as an added measure.
  • If you are loaning a horse you need to ensure a legally binding loan agreement is agreed and signed by both parties. This will set out the exact terms of the loan and responsibilities of each party.
  • If you are loaning your horse, you should keep a full copy of the horse’s passport and notify the PIO that the horse is on loan.
  • If you are loaning your horse, you should also be prepared to regularly visit the horse at his new home in order to check how he is getting on. Any organisation or individual who is not happy about you doing so should immediately raise alarm bells.
  • It is important to remember that once you have transferred ownership of your horse to another party, you relinquish all responsibility and rights to that particular animal and the new owner is free to do what they please. This further increases the importance of making the right decision so you can have full peace of mind.
  • Visiting any potential home is essential. Check the amount and quality of grazing, is there enough for the number of horses? Do all horses have free access to water? Are the fields regularly cleared of droppings?

Finding a safe and loving home for a horse is not an easy or quick process and if someone or something seems too good to be true then chances are it probably is too good to be true! If you are in any doubt at all then you should contact an organisation like World Horse Welfare or RoR and they will be able to advise you honestly and impartially.

Please note that the recommendations provided here are for general information only and are not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Please refer to our Terms of Use for further information.