The appointment of a new Animal Welfare Manager by Tasracing on 14 October 2019 should provide the Tasmanian community with greater confidence that animal welfare is of critical importance to the organisation and the industry.
Immediately upon the appointment, a review of all welfare initiatives commenced.
Tasracing is also undertaking upgrades and improvements to racing facilities to improve horse welfare during their racing career. These include track renovation, upgraded surfaces in parade and mounting yard areas and upgrades to flooring in stalls.
The cornerstone of equine welfare in Tasmania is the Off the Track (OTT), a program of continuous education and training for retired race horses. The program welcomes any horse that has been bred for racing, regardless of whether or not it has raced.
Off the Track membership provides access to a training and coaching clinic program that is designed to achieve meaningful results with horses of varying type, scope and purpose.
Clinics are held weekly across the state and include:
- Preparation clinics: For racing participants, these clinics form the starting point for horses transitioning out of the industry.
- Transition clinics: An intensive series of sessions focusing on horsemanship and equitation fundamentals.
- Trail Clinics: An alternative to arena work. Designed to develop musculature, coordination and transitions over varied terrain.
- Extension clinics: Private riding lessons catering to all abilities.
- Horses Helping Horses Clinics: Social rides where seasoned trail horses help ex-racehorses adjust to pleasure riding.
A frequent, consistent, and flexible program of training and support actively addresses two of the significant challenges in rehoming retired racehorses:
- There is a limited pool of equestrians with the skills and interest to provide successful long-term outcomes for horses that have only known race-training;
- Of horses that retire sound, the majority that end up unwanted do so because of behavioural factors, and these are not always apparent at the first change of hands, nor problematic in the hands of an experienced trainer.
In the period 1 July to 31 October 2019:
- 41 horses have been rehomed (23 thoroughbreds, 18 standardbreds).
- 70 clinics have been held.
- 415 participants have actively participated in the program.
In the meantime, since allegations were broadcast of the killing of retired thoroughbred horses interstate, Tasracing and the Office of Racing Integrity has undertaken to:
- Review the retirement process of all thoroughbred and standardbred horses and the responsibility of owners.
- Review national database statistics.
- Work with other interstate regulatory bodies around a national horse traceability register and national and local rule changes regarding the humane euthanasia of horses.
Despite references to Tasmanian horses being killed in an abattoir, neither ORI nor Tasracing have been able to substantiate the claim and would be happy to investigate should the ABC release the necessary information.
Further, neither ORI nor Tasracing have received information or evidence from other parties that any such practices have happened in Tasmania.
Tasracing is working with other principal racing authorities in other jurisdictions on a national approach to equine welfare.
Each year many millions of dollars are invested across the industry to ensure the welfare of animals is protected.
Tasracing and the industry operate the Off the Track program which is funded through contributions of 1% from prize money and additional funding from Tasracing.