Striding on together - the HKJC and equestrian sport share the same spirit of partnership and commitment to excellence.
Beas River Equestrian Centre (BREC) is a world leader in providing a structured retraining programme for retired racehorses. After their racing careers, all horses that are not exported for retirement overseas are carefully assessed by the HKJC veterinary team. According to their health and temperament they will be accepted into the retraining programme and move to BREC to begin their rehabilitation. Following this initial period of rest they will slowly begin their retraining programme to become equestrian horses and go on to have valuable second careers in competitions or riding school activities. The Club has also donated over 1,000 retired racehorses to Chinese Mainland since 1984 and they have played a pivotal role in the development of Chinese equestrianism and horse care. Some horses have also been exported to ranches overseas to retrain in a natural environment and live valuable "second lives".
Information on Rehabilitation and Retraining of Retired Racehorses
On retirement, each horse is first assessed by a member of the veterinary team while at Sha Tin to ensure that it is suitable to enter the Retraining Unit (RTU). If successful, the horse is transferred to BREC to begin a new chapter in its life. If necessary, an individual rehabilitation plan is followed before retraining commences. From then on, horses can start their training towards a successful second career.
The RTU programme consists of three precise stages identified below, and the entire programme should take several months. The exact time varies for each horse depending on its strength, age, amount of time on the track, attitude and general temperament.
Stage 1 - Re-breaking
Re-breaking involves desensitising the horses from their racing environment. Horses will quietly start to adjust to the new surroundings. They slowly begin the cleansing process both physically and psychologically in relation to feed, routine, stable management and riding requirement. However, before this can happen, all horses are profiled by the equestrian veterinarians, and their details are shared with the riders from the RTU as specific programmes may be required for some horses. At the end of this stage, we hope to have achieved a solid foundation to build upon. The horses should have undergone a behavioural change with regards to their daily routine. Their feed should be adjusted for general riding rather than racing, and they should be quiet and relaxed while being lunged (that is, without the extra weight of a rider) or ridden on an equestrian track rather than racing track within the Beas River premises. At the end of this stage, the horses should be settled and calm with respect to their walk, trot and canter and able to clear low obstacles.
Stage 2 – Development
During this stage, we expect a little more from each horse and will try to establish an awareness of pace, outline, rhythm and balance with the guidance of a rider. The horses should feel completely relaxed and be able to clear low obstacles with a rider.
Stage 3 – Further Training
During this stage, we hope to increase the horse's knowledge and confidence, strengthen parts of the body relevant to the tasks asked of the horse and focus on conditioning the horse towards advanced work such as lateral gaits and jumping.
The development is monitored regularly in assessments, and the natural talents and specific requirements of each horse are highlighted; these will determine where the horse can be re-homed after being retrained successfully.
*Please note this is the basic retraining process. Horses destined for the Livery Programme or riding school need to be further trained to a higher level by the qualified instructors at each facility.
Members of the HKJC have the opportunity to take a specific horse on livery, ride and develop it, take lessons with one of our instructors, or get it schooled. Horses that are assessed to be suitable for livery from the Retraining Unit are offered to all members and can be trialled upon request until a suitable match is found. However, members need to possess adequate riding skills and the capacity to take care of a horse.
According to the Horse Ballot Bye-laws, on the retirement of a racehorse from racing, ownership of retired racehorses is vested in the Club after racehorses’ racing careers unless racehorse owners wish to export their racehorses with permission of the Club. . If a racehorse is deemed suitable for the retraining programme and becomes an equestrian horse, the racehorse owner will be given priority to take his/her horse on livery at BREC once retraining is completed successfully, and if the racehorse owner is assessed as a suitable rider for the horse.
Please contact the Administration Office for further information.
A team of 15 equestrian assistants take excellent care of the horses in retraining.