After their racing career, many thoroughbreds are retrained for equestrian sport, but it seems there may also be a demand for OTTBs in the lesser known field of falconry.
After racing in Australia, Dubai and Britain, Group 2 winner Caymans, now 12, has found a new lease of life at Dartmoor Hawking in the south-west of England.
The former Godolphin runner, who has only one eye, joined Dartmoor Hawking after the falconry centre approached Godolphin Rehoming to see if they had any horses available who might be suitable. His stablemate Shubaat also joined the Recycled Racehorse falconry team.
Caymans won the Group 2 Sandown Guineas in Australia in 2008. He achieved a classic-standard peak Racing Post Racing of 118 during a three-year career.
Falconer Martin Whitley retrains racehorses for the sport of falconry, says despite being in the job for only a couple of months, Caymans has taken to it. “He’s an absolute gentleman to work with.”
Whitley said he’d never worked with a one-eyed horse before; Caymans lost his offside eye through infection during the latter part of his racing career. “On his blind side he’s good as gold, on his good side he’s good as gold as well.”
Caymans and his fellow falconry horses have been taking part in displays at shows and fairs around Britain.
Godolphin’s rehoming programme has had many success stories, in several equestrian fields. Horses who go to one of the company’s centres – in Japan, USA, Britain, and Australia – are first turned out to decompress from their racing careers, before beginning retraining. This includes teaching the horses to stand at the mounting block, tie up outside the stable, basic handling as well as schooling and ensuring they are good to hack out, both in company and alone. Those who can go on to jump do pole work and start jumping.
Applicants are matched to horses, and they are invited to work with their selected horse at the yard. When a new home is found, a three-month loan agreement is signed on collection of the horse. During this period, the horse must be insured for veterinary fees and third-party liability. The horse may be returned at any point during these three months.
At the end of the three-month period, Godolphin staff will visit to ensure both parties are happy. At this point, the horse can be bought for £100 + tax and a Weatherbys’ non-racing agreement is signed. The horse’s passport is stamped ‘non-racing’ and returned to the new registered owner.