Racing charities combine to bring horses to care homes

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Ouzbeck, pictured at the OSJCT Coombe End Court care home in Marlborough, is part of a pilot programme to bring retired thoroughbreds into care homes.
Ouzbeck, pictured at the OSJCT Coombe End Court care home in Marlborough, is part of a pilot programme to bring retired thoroughbreds into care homes. © Racing Together

Three horse racing charities have combined forces to bring former racehorses to visit residents of care homes in Britain, in a new pilot scheme.

Greatwood and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) are working with the Racing Together team to bring former racehorse Ouzbeck to a care home in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

The visits enable the residents to interact with Ouzbeck in a way that suits them, by watching and stroking him, by grooming him and chatting to the Greatwood team. The visits take place across six mornings, where residents can come out to see him in small groups, assisted by care home and Greatwood staff to make the most from his time spent on the lawn in front of their home.

The Care Home team said: “We are very excited about being involved — both residents and staff. The residents will be talking about Ouzbeck’s visit all week. One lady is really excited, having been involved in racing. It is a great confidence boost after Covid and a huge boost for all of us.”

Greatwood was the first charity to use former racehorses to educate children, young people and adults with Special Educational Needs (SEN), and it is revisiting its original concept of developing and measuring the benefits of introducing former racehorses to the residents of care homes.

Its six-week pilot programme, working with RoR and the sport’s community partnership, Racing Together, began on September 2. The scheme, coinciding with the inaugural National Racehorse Week from September 12 to 19, aims to explore and measure the impact on, and the benefit to the physical and mental health of the residents in the care home, and to use these findings to build and promote wider support.

Emotional wellbeing, mindfulness and inclusion are at the heart of all Greatwood’s programmes, said founder and managing director Helen Yeadon.

“Following a successful career on the racecourse, Ouzbeck embraces his new path in helping children and young people at Greatwood, and he is enjoying venturing further afield and improving lives within the older community.”

Ouzbeck spends time with one of the residents of the OSJCT Coombe End Court care home in Marlborough.
Ouzbeck spends time with one of the residents of the OSJCT Coombe End Court care home in Marlborough. © Racing Together

The pilot aims to celebrate the racehorse, showcase their versatility and provide another way to connect horseracing with its communities and to the public nationwide. Once evaluated, it is hoped that the programme will be extended to connect more former racehorses with community groups.

Racing Together Community Engagement Manager Lucy Gurney said the charity was delighted to be growing the knowledge-base in this area alongside RoR and Greatwood.

“The horse-human bond is unique to racing as a large spectator sport, and equine-assisted intervention is a field that is going from strength to strength.

“The pilot focuses on a key area of Racing Together’s strategy. We are so pleased to be providing our support, and to be exploring how former racehorses can help people,” Gurney said.

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