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Securing The Future Of The Athletes Of The Equine World

We love to watch them. We love to bet on them. We love the excitement of the crowd on race days. But how often do we think of the fate of retired thoroughbreds?

One person who became all too painfully aware of just how insecure the future of a retired racehorse can be is Carrie Humble. After a number of careers in the United States, Carrie returned to the UK and spent much of 1991 helping to prepare thoroughbred stock for sales. "It was then that I saw at first hand just what can happen to a racehorse that has come to the end of its athletic career," she said.

It was then that Carrie came up with the idea of the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre (TRC), and ten years ago she achieved charitable status for the organisation. The TRC's objective is to work with the racing world to try to rehabilitate former racehorses so that they can be re-homed in a caring environment. And visitors to the Midlands Equine Fair taking place at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, on 8 and 9 March, will have the ideal opportunity to see the work of the organisation at first hand as Carrie and her team work some of their equine pupils.

The success of the TRC has grown and grown since its inception. After five years at the Birkrigg Park Arabian Stud where the TRC had only seven boxes and five acres, demand was such that the organisation moved to its present location, former livery stables at Poplar Grove Farm in Nateby, Lancashire. Here, the TRC leases 24 stables in 50 acres of land which include an outdoor manege and a cross country course. Since 1998 the TRC has added an indoor school, field shelters and a 'join-up' arena.

Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre founder Carrie Humble with one of her charges

And continual growth is necessary of the TRC is to make a difference. Said Carrie: "Hundreds of horses leave racing each year, and many end up in the sale room where there is no control over their destination. This is where well intentioned by inexperienced buyers can find themselves with a bargain nightmare on their hands - a highly-strung, finely-tuned, race-trained blood equine. It's a bit like buying a Formula 1 racing car when in reality all you were looking for was a family saloon."

The problem does not end there. When faced with what appears to be a troublesome animal, the inexperienced owner does not necessarily turn to the right people for advice. In unsympathetic hands these horses can become dangerous, branded as a bad lot and the first step in the cycle of neglect is taken.

The TRC works from within the racing world because the team there recognise the pressures that trainers are under to achieve results. As a consequence, the TRC works hard to provide trainers and owners who care about the future of their animals with solutions and alternatives that work.

Foremost in the TRC's objectives is to provide a safe environment with experienced, quality care so that former racing thoroughbreds can be re-educated and trained for other uses. Such horses are given time to adjust and relax before they are asked to rethink their way of working. Horses that have been trained to race often find this difficult, but the TRC makes this transition as pleasant and positive as possible.

When a horse has reached a sensible, contented conversion, it becomes available for re-homing. It remains the property of the TRC and is loaned out under very specific conditions to ensure its lifelong welfare.

The TRC will be attending the Midlands Equine Fair in the Top Equestrian Arena. There, visitors will be able to see 'before and after' and ask questions about the work of the charity. Further information about the TRC is available by logging on to its website - - or by calling 01995 605007.

Tickets for the Midlands Equine Fair are available in advance from Contour Exhibitions & Events by calling 08700 115007 and advance booking discounts are available. Further information and leaflets are available by calling 01884 841644, or by logging on at



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