A thoroughbred rehabilitation program in NSW is not only helping former race horses find a new lease on life, but is also assisting with the rehabilitation of prison inmates.
The joint venture between Racing NSW and the Department of Corrective Services, involves retired racehorses being retrained for new pursuits including working as companion animals, Police work, recreational riding and equestrian events. The program operates out of St Heliers Correctional Facility in Muswellbrook and John Morony Correction Complex at Windsor, and will involve 62 horses and 27 inmates across both facilities.
Under the program, the horses will be under the care and management of the inmates, who will train them to be reintegrated back into a non-racing environment. As well as directly caring for the horses, the prisoners will also build and maintain the farm’s facilities.
Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter V’landys said that the program will have significant long-term benefits for both horses and prisoners, “Not only does it enable racehorses to have a life after racing but it also provides a new life opportunity for the prisoner.”
Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham said that the program will help prisoners obtain valuable skills and hopefully reduce re-offending, “This is a unique program which provides inmates with personal development opportunities they would otherwise miss out on by making them responsible for the care, management, training and hygiene of these horses,” he said.
St Heliers Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler said that the program had a two-way benefit. “It just adds another dimension to the rehabilitation of the inmates, but then also obviously contributes back to the horse industry and the animal welfare aspect of it,” he said to the ABC. “They really bring out the compassion and gentleness with the inmates as well.”
For more details on donating a racehorse or buying a retrained horse, visit the program’s site here