Retired racehorses have a reputation for being highly-strung and difficult to manage, but a Wagga researcher believes that doesn't have to be the case.
Charles Sturt University researcher Mollie Buckley is looking to uncover ways to make sure former racehorses live fulfilling, happy lives after they step off the track for the final time.
In collaboration with Hartpury University in the United Kingdom, Ms Buckley has launched a study into what attributes help horses have successful post-racing careers.
She believes hearing from owners of retired racehorses about the lives that their horses are living and how that has impacted their behaviour could help her determine the secret to rehoming the animals effectively.
"Racehorses are so young and they actually spend more than 50 per cent of the life in retirement so more focus is really needed on that period," Ms Buckley said.
"They come from a really high-intensity environment and I think there's a lot we can learn about how to match the horses with the right owners and what type of post-racing careers they will suit."
She hopes her findings will then help guide further research as well as inform the racing industry and horse owners on the best practices when organising an animals retirement.
"When we understand these attributes ... the results will be able to help guide further research which supports better welfare outcomes for racehorses throughout all stages of life," Ms Buckley said.
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CSU Associate Professor Hayley Randle is part of Ms Buckley's supervisory team and said the study could have wide-ranging benefits for horses across Australia.
"This is a really exciting project as the issue of whole-of-life welfare for all horses is more important than ever before," Professor Randle said.
"There are many retired racehorses that go on to be very successful in a second career, including several ex-racehorses that have represented Australia at the Olympic Games and World Championships, winning medals."
Ms Buckley is encouraging all previous and current owners of retired racehorses to participate in her survey, which is open until July 25.
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