By Darren Cartwright
Thirteen may be unlucky for some but not for retired racehorses.
That’s the number of retrainers that have signed on to the Queensland Off-The-Track (QOTT) Acknowledged Retrainers Program, to retrain and rehome thoroughbred and standardbred horses.
The QOTT Program has a rigorous screening process before it approves retrainers based on their ability and experience with retraining and rehoming thoroughbreds and standardbreds of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and temperaments.
Maximising aftercare outcomes for retired racehorses across the state as they transition from the track or the breeding barn to second careers as pleasure, performance or therapy horses, the Acknowledged Retrainers Program is one of a suite of programs funded by the prize money levy implemented to support equine welfare in Queensland.
Senior Animal Care Manager Kim Duffy said that while the initial response to stage one of the program has been extremely encouraging, the QOTT Program will not rest on its laurels and will continue to expand on this initial milestone.
This includes expansion of the Acknowledged Retrainers network, with interested retrainers welcome to apply to become QOTT Acknowledged Retrainers at any time.
The bulk of the baker’s dozen that are retraining horses for their second life are located in South East Queensland, with the most northern located at Mt Garnet, about 200km southwest of Cairns.
“We could not be happier with the quality and the diversity of the retrainers across the state,” Ms. Duffy said.
“It’s a wonderful program that perfectly repositions thoroughbreds and standardbreds from their racing or breeding life to a post-racing career.”
Each Acknowledged Retrainer receives business, marketing and financial support, including an equine care subsidy of up to $1,000 that reimburses them for horse management costs, including veterinary, farrier, worming, vaccination and dental expenses.
Among the 13 Acknowledged Retrainers is accomplished multiple Dressage and Show champion rider, Amanda Chant.
Based in North Maclean, Ms. Chant Founder of Equine-Konected, an equine therapeutic centre located 30km south of Brisbane, offers a range of horsemanship services, with her key area of expertise being the aftercare of standardbreds.
“My passion lays with the standardbred and I am a huge advocate for gaining as much acknowledgment for these horses as possible,” Chant said.
“Standardbreds are extremely capable of a diverse range of disciplines, and the more we can get this breed recognised the better.
“I take great pride in producing nice, steady horses that are recognised out and about.
“To see a horse only knowing racing life and seeing them change both mentally and physically is beyond rewarding.”
In the four months since the Acknowledged Retrainers Program has been operating, 10 horses have been successfully retrained and rehomed so far, with a further 11 horses currently in retraining across the state.
Following the launch of the QOTT Program’s first major initiative in July 2021, a Subsidised Lessons Program, much has been achieved in only a short period of time. The Acknowledged Retrainers Program is one of three major initiatives launched by the QOTT Program to date.
“We are delighted with the popularity and the success of the initiatives launched so far. It has been really busy since we’ve been up and running, and we have another busy couple of years to come,” Ms. Duffy said.
“As a team, we are dedicated to achieving a world-class, multifaceted QOTT Program. With strong foundations established during the past 12 months, we look forward to further expanding our program with what is set to become another big year for QOTT in FY23.”
A range of exciting initiatives are set to be launched by QOTT in the coming months, including an off the track grants program to support not-for-profit organisations and charities that provide a lifelong safety net for retired racehorses.
An online education hub with information on how to care for and educate retired racehorses will also soon be accessible to the public, and will include fact sheets and articles written by professionals and industry experts, including qualified veterinarians, to support racehorse aftercare.
A QOTT official Facebook page is also set to go live in the coming weeks.
Click here for more information on the QOTT Program.