Life After Racing: The RVC is calling for owners of former racehorses for rehoming survey

Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are calling for owners and previous owners of former racehorses in the UK to participate in a new survey and share their experiences of rehoming racehorses to uncover the different factors that influence a successful outcome.

The survey is available online and includes questions about owners’ experiences of taking on a former racehorse with researchers aiming to secure at least 500 respondents over the course of the next month.

It forms part of the RVC’s wider ’Life After Racing’ project which seeks to improve understanding of retraining and rehoming former racehorses by outlining the processes involved in rehoming and assessing the different factors that influence a former racehorse’s suitability for entry into a second career. This follows recent industry reports which call for a better comprehension of what makes a successful transition, meaning it will provide a valuable evidence base with which to inform, monitor and improve initiatives and interventions in racehorse aftercare.

Included as part of the second stage of the ’Life After Racing’ project, this survey seeks to understand more about the former racehorse population in their new homes, and the key features of a successful partnership. Questions gather information about the horse as well as the owner, including their expectations versus their experience.

The survey findings will be complemented by wider qualitative research and interviews with current, previous and potential owners of former racehorses, including those who have not previously rehomed a former racehorse, to identify challenges or perceived barriers.

Combined with the previous results from the first phase which examined how racehorses are rehomed, the results will help identify avenues for providing additional support to owners to aid successful rehoming and opportunities for broadening access to former racehorse ownership.

Dr. Darcy Bornemann, Postdoctoral Researcher in Pathology and Population Sciences at the RVC and Operational Research Lead for the Life After Racing project, said:

"This is an exciting project and I’m looking forward to working with horse owners and hearing their stories. Thoroughbred horses are versatile and amazing animals, and it’s wonderful to be with the RVC, alongside Retraining of Racehorses, in their mission to support former racehorses’ lives after racing."

Professor Kristien Verheyen, Professor of Veterinary Clinical Epidemiology at the RVC, said:

"The information gathered in this survey will be invaluable for better understanding the factors associated with racehorses leading happy and fulfilling lives after they leave racing, be that in a competitive career in another equestrian discipline, as a happy hacker or a much-loved companion.

"We would love to hear people’s experiences of rehoming a former racehorse, regardless of whether that was good or bad; gathering data from people for which their former racehorse was not the right choice for them is just as crucial as learning about success stories. Only then can we start to unravel the key features of successful partnerships, with the ultimate aim of maximising the chances of a former racehorse being placed in a suitably matched long-term home when they retire from racing."

The final stage of the project will link race performance to competition records in other equine sport disciplines, to assess whether and how success in racing is correlated with success in another career. These findings will help determine which pathway is best suited for horses post-racing including which other equestrian sport discipline they may perform best in.

If you are over the age of 18, live in the UK and own a former racehorse, or have previously owned one, you can complete the survey via the below link. The survey will take no longer than 15 minutes to complete -­racehorse-rehoming-survey .

Reference About the RVC
  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK’s largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London.
  • It is one of the few veterinary schools in the world that hold accreditations from the RCVS in the UK (with reciprocal recognition from the AVBC for Australasia, the VCI for Ireland and the SAVC for South Africa), the EAEVE in the EU, and the AVMA in the USA and Canada.
  • The RVC is ranked as the top veterinary school in the world in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2024.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • The RVC is a research-led institution, with 88% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.