The British Horseracing Industry is committed to safeguarding the welfare of racehorses throughout their racing careers and beyond. Former racehorses who do not retire to a stud career and are suitable for second careers are often retrained to compete in other equestrian sports. Horseball is a growing discipline, which proactively supports Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) that could offer a suitable second career for former racehorses. This study explored the key attributes that Horseball competitors look for in a potential former racehorse to promote a successful career in the sport. Participants voluntarily completed an online, 18 question survey (SurveyMonkey®), distributed through Horseball related communication channels (Facebook™, Instagram™ and the British Horseball Association). Horseball competitors were asked a) what key physical and behavioural characteristics they considered necessary for a successful Horseball horse and b) whether they would consider competing a former racehorse. A total of 45 Horseball competitors completed the survey representing a margin of error of ±13% at the 95% confidence interval for the UK Horseball population (n= 200). Most respondents celebrated former racehorses’ suitability for Horseball competition; 73.72% (n=32) had already owned and competed a former thoroughbred racehorse in Horseball and 97.78% (n=44) would consider purchasing and competing one in the future. Former racehorses were recognised to possess key performance attributes: agility, temperament, and speed suitable for a successful second career in competitive Horseball. However, injuries that impeded former racehorse performance; lameness and other chronic injuries, were deemed as detrimental to success in competitive Horseball. Further work in collaboration with racehorse rehoming stakeholders is required to produce guidelines to identify specific behavioural and physical characteristics which could predict the suitability of former racehorses for successful second careers across equestrian disciplines.
|Journal||Comparative Exercise Physiology|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 30 Jul 2021|