Life after racing
“Every Standardbred horse should be treated with respect, compassion and understanding and shall receive a standard of care which allows them to enjoy a good quality of life while in the racing industry and on retirement.”
Responsible re-homing of Standardbreds is an important issue for racing internationally. Harness Racing New Zealand is committed to ensuring that as many of our retiring horses as possible are retrained and re-homed for second careers as sport or pleasure horses.
Standardbreds throughout New Zealand have successful careers after racing in many equestrian disciplines including showing, trekking, show jumping, endurance, competitive trail riding, cowboy challenge and eventing.
Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities (HERO)
Harness Racing New Zealand is currently in the process of launching an exciting new initiative; Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities (HERO). HERO was initially launched in July 2015 as a joint initiative of Harness Racing Victoria and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund and Harness Racing New Zealand are proud to be joining this venture. HERO promotes life after racing options for retired Standardbreds, with an emphasis on developing positive pathways for horses exiting the competitive environment and encouraging industry participants to factor retirement into their day to day welfare programs.
Harness Racing New Zealand sponsor a number of events to promote the Standardbred as a leisure and competition horse after racing including:
Anything but Standard Challenge
The Anything But Standard Challenge is a life after racing venture launched in 2017. The vision for this Challenge is to promote the versatility and suitability of the Standardbred as a pleasure and sport horse once their racing career has finished which is beneficial for the racing industry.
The Anything But Standard Challenge is open to any branded Standardbred that is unbroken to saddle as of the 1st of February of the competition year with the Challenge being held in either November or December.
The Challenge consists of 5 individual Challenges; Inhand Showing, Ridden Showing, Dressage, Show Hunter, and Obstacle Course and points gained across each section are combined to name the Overall Challenge winner. Competitors may enter as many or as few sections as they like but only those entered in all sections are eligible for the Overall.
The South Island Premier Show
This equestrian event provides a platform for top breeders, along with horse, pony and rider combinations from around New Zealand to showcase their talents and compete for championships and title class awards. There is a specific Standardbred section that has become highly competitive.
Harness Racing New Zealand in conjunction with Dunstan Feeds introduced the inaugural Standardbred Photo Competition at Goldfields Cavalcade - Riding Trails Event. This initiative called on participants to take imaginative photos of them and their Standardbred enjoying the Cavalcade There was nearly 40 entries for the competition in its first year and it was fantastic to see so many Standardbreds enjoying their life after racing.
This competition will continue for the 2020 Cavalcade (see here for more details).
Horse of the Year
There is a strong contingent of Standardbreds that compete annually at Horse of the Year. This is the crème de le crème of New Zealand’s premier equestrian competition, featuring a range of horse and rider combinations from multiple disciplines. With over 1,600 riders and 1,800 horses competing for lucrative titles and prize money, the show is a feature on all equestrian calendars.
Life after racing articles
Harness Racing New Zealand will:
- Develop and launch the HERO programme
- Amend the Rules of Racing to create a duty of care on rehoming Standardbreds after they retire from racing or breeding
- Provide support for initiatives that showcase the versatility of Standardbreds
- Support objective research that identifies why horses do not start racing, or leave racing and breeding
- Support objective research that identifies the activities that retrained horses participate in