Assessment

When a new arrival turns up at the Sanctuary the first thing that happens is that the horse will be thoroughly examined by our equine veterinary surgeon.

It is not uncommon for retiring racehorses to be suffering from some level of bone stress or tendon injury. Nigel and the vet will decide on a course of treatment in order to return the horse to good health if this is an issue.

The horse will complete a period in isolation - typical to arriving at any new yard - to ensure it is not incubating any infectious medical condition which might affect the other equine inhabitants at the Sanctuary

One advantage of this period of peace and quiet is that the horse can acclimatise after the move and the diet can gradually be changed to build them up or let them down as required. Their general attitude can be assessed and they can start to establish relationships with their new human carers.

The next step, subject to soundness, will see the horse being put to light work, leading on to being ridden by Nigel. When he feels the horse is making progress towards a change from the riding style essential to competitive racing to the safer style required for general riding, the horse will be ridden by other members of staff.

At the same time the new horse will be turned out to share a paddock with other horses to establish new equine relationships.

All this time assessment will continue as Nigel and his team look to work out what future would best suit our horse. The modern racehorse has been bred to an active life, so top priority for the team will be to determine the level of challenge most suited to our new ex-racehorse: the more active, the happier they are going to be in retirement from racing. Future options for the active horse may encompass other branches of equine sport or general hacking.

Even for those horses with long-term injuries Nigel and his team will not despair; their charge will be given the time and treatment needed to recover; and should the horse still be unsuitable for ridden work it will be found a suitable home as a companion horse.

Only when Nigel is satisfied that the horse is ready and safe to move beyond the assessment stage, will the team start a personalised programme of retraining.