A study that followed more than 4000 thoroughbred foals born in the Australian state of Victoria has detailed what became of the animals after their racing careers.
The research was carried out by Melbourne-based veterinarian Dr Meredith Flash, who wanted to find out more about thoroughbred horses and what happened to them once they left the racing industry.
“Equine vets care about the health and welfare of horses so it was important to look at how many of the horses bred each year go on to race, and where they go when leaving the thoroughbred breeding and racing industries,” said Flash, who is an executive member of the industry body, Equine Veterinarians Australia.
Flash’s award-winning research looked at the the racing careers of 4115 thoroughbreds born in Victoria in 2005. This was the first time that horses from a foal crop had been followed from birth to either nine years of age, or their retirement from the racing industry.
Seventy four per cent of the group officially entered training, with 88 per cent of those horses participating in at least one race, Flash found.
“While there are some perceptions there’s a high rate of over-breeding in the racing industry, the results of my study revealed that this isn’t the case.
“In fact, 40 percent of thoroughbreds were re-homed to non-racing homes, 20 percent were breeding thoroughbreds, 19 percent were deceased, 5 percent were still racing and another 5 percent were sold interstate or overseas.”
Flash received many awards for her research, including the Norman Larkin Prize and the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists College Prize.
The recognition humbled the veterinarian.
“It was amazing to receive the positive feedback and recognition from my fellow veterinarians for all the work that has gone into this study,” she said.
Flash graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2006 and worked in racetrack practice for the first eight years of her career. Today, she provides locum services for equine practices in Victoria, and acupuncture services for horses and dogs in the greater Melbourne area.