As the racing career of a thoroughbred is only a certain part of its total life expectancy, great efforts are made to ensure standards of welfare are maintained for the entire life cycle of a thoroughbred. In 2014, new rules were introduced requiring owners and trainers to inform Racing Australia about the retirement of horses, the reasons for retirement and the destination of the thoroughbreds.
Collated data from 27,000 forms reveals:
This shows drastic improvements in the number of thoroughbreds able to be rehomed and a decline in the number sent to abattoirs. In fact, it is now illegal under some jurisdictions to send retired thoroughbreds to abattoirs.
Breeding purposes 23%
Sent to livestock sale 1%
Retired blank <1%
Died natural 4%
The racing career of a thoroughbred may cease at any time for any number of reasons. Racing Australia and its associated Principal Racing Authorities take their duty of care for retired racehorses very seriously. Racing Australia has led Thoroughbred racing globally in introducing reforms and rules to improve integrity and animal welfare; in fact Britain has adopted similar measure from January 1 this year.
In order to protect the welfare of both thoroughbreds and riders Racing Australia implemented the following rules regarding the mandatory age of retirement: