Racehorse welfare: “Aftercare cannot be an afterthought”

National Horseracing Authority of South Africa chief executive Lyndon Barends.
National Horseracing Authority of South Africa chief executive Lyndon Barends. © IFAR

Racing jurisdictions from around the world are unanimous in their support of programs for thoroughbreds after their racing careers are over.

Discussions of global aftercare efforts and the significance of these efforts as part of the racing industry were at the forefront of the second International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR), held during the Asian Racing Conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Representatives from jurisdictions across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the UK, attended the forum, which concluded on Monday.

Keynote speaker Lyndon Barends, chief executive of The National Horseracing Authority of South Africa, stressed the significance of aftercare as being a priority to the racing industry. “Everyone in the racing and breeding industries derives their salary from the horse,” he said.

“Aftercare cannot be an afterthought. It’s critical to the industry as a whole.”

Several representatives spoke of work in their regions regarding aftercare.

Di Arbuthnot, IFAR chairwoman and the chief executive of Britain’s Retraining of Racehorses, said IFAR would provide insight, education, and expertise to the racing industry to develop infrastructure to assist horses when they retire.

Martin Burns of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing predicted that strong welfare guidelines will be in place in New Zealand by 2019.

Representatives from Japan and Korea spoke of the advances and newly developed work regarding aftercare of Thoroughbreds within the racing industries in their regions.


Godolphin’s head of global charity and one of the founders of IFAR, Diana Cooper, commented that “the horses we breed give us such pleasure, and they deserve a good life from cradle to grave. Aftercare is non-negotiable.”

Equine therapy role for OTTBs

Jock Hutchison of Horseback UK spoke of the intelligence and sensitivity of the Thoroughbred that makes it the ideal breed to assist war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He noted that Thoroughbreds can be just as beneficial for humans as humans can be for Thoroughbreds.

On Thursday at the ARC’s Equine Welfare seminar, James L. Gagliano, president and head of The Jockey Club in the US, will look at IFAR’s strategic goals and the significance of the Man O’ War Project, which aims to determine the effectiveness of equine therapy on helping military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 2018 IFAR conference was hosted by the Asian Racing Conference and supported by Godolphin Lifetime Care and The Jockey Club.

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