The Standardbred’s Journey, from Harness Racing to Hero.
Here at HRV Hero, Harness Racing Victoria’s industry outplacement program, we love nothing more than seeing retired harness racehorses thriving in their next chapter.
Our days are brightened by the endless flow of heart-warming stories, videos and smiling photos of standardbreds out being utterly adored in their forever homes.
The word of the standardbred is spreading beyond the racing stalls, out into the equestrian world. Standardbreds are being recognised for their kind, willing natures and many talents as a riding partner, in both pleasure and competitive pursuits.
For standardbred horses, retirement from racing draws to the end a chapter of experiences and marks the beginning of an exciting new one.
Life beyond the track promises an opportunity to explore new talents and to find a fulfilling role and loving family to share many years of adventures with.
As guardians of their horses, harness industry professionals are presented with various avenues to choose from, once the decision has been made to retire a standardbred from racing.
One of these options is to list the horse with HRV Hero’s Direct Off Track Track program, which provides a platform for harness professionals to utilise the Hero program in the rehoming of standardbreds direct from racing to members of the public.
Another viable pathway is to register their horse on a wait list, to enter the HRV Hero formal retraining program and be placed with a professional standardbred retrainer.
For the horses who enter the Hero retraining program, an extensive process begins, to ensure each horse is assessed for suitability and adequately prepared for a career change from racehorse to riding partner.
This begins with the submission of a detailed horse nomination form, to provide Hero with an essential summary of the horse’s history, including their physical health, temperament and any quirks or talents that will assist retrainers to tailor a program to suit each horse’s individual needs.
From there, Hero arranges for a pre-acceptance veterinary check to be conducted, to put the horse through a physical examination to assess the horse’s overall condition, conformation, posture, range of mobility, neurological markers and to identify any potential issues which would prevent the horse from transitioning comfortably to saddle, or require further exploration.
Once the veterinary check has been passed, the horse will join a waitlist and move up chronologically as each Hero horse is rehomed, until the next available spot opens up with a Hero retrainer (Hero retrainers don’t pick and choose – the standardbred at the top of the list will be coordinated, via the Hero Operations Manager, to go to the next available Hero retrainer to communicate an opening in their stable).
Once a space opens up, the horse will be collected via a truck organised by Hero, for transportation the the retrainers property.
Hero retrainers work within a set of guidelines, to ensure animal welfare and best practice standards are maintained throughout each horse’s transition to ridden training.
Hero retrainers all operate their own professional equestrian businesses and as such are well positioned, with vast social media reach and contact lists, to introduce their Hero standardbreds to an engaged audience of prospective buyers.
To support rehoming efforts, HRV Hero has engaged a team of media professionals, with goal to create more homes and meaningful opportunities for harness horses exiting racing, across an extensive network of media channels. This gives each Hero standardbred the very best chance of attracting the attention of a wonderful person who will offer them a loving, secure home and exciting new opportunities beyond the track.