“When you are in a pen with an animal weighing 300 to 500 kilos, that could hurt you, and is looking for a leader – you have to put your problems aside...
“You learn the skill of being in the moment.”
So explains Max Streeter, a veteran who volunteers for the Thoroughbred and Veterans Welfare Alliance, an organisation that teaches traumatised and injured soldiers to train retired racehorses.
Mr Streeter is just one person interested in Racing NSW’s plan to use a property in Capertee as a ‘shopfront for animal welfare’.
NSW Racing announced their purchase of the 1050 acre site and 1890 homestead in July least year. One hundred unwanted racehorses will call the property their home while being retrained for life as companion animals, mounted police horses and show jumpers.
The Thoroughbred and Veterans Welfare Alliance will use the property for intensive training programs for returned soldiers.
“The horses are beautiful and often fairly young,” Mr Streeter said.
“They deserve a second life, as do veterans.”
The purchase of Bandanora is part of NSW Racings $5 million horse welfare program funded by a taking of one percent from the state’s race prize money.
Racing NSW has said that the program will ensure all horses that race are re-homed after their retirement.
“For horses that can’t find a second home, our program is a support network as they are retiring from racing,” equine welfare manager of Racing NSW Karen Day said.
“We are committed to the life of the race horse.”
The hundred places at Bandanora for horses surrendered to the welfare program represents a small fraction of the roughly 8,500 racehorses retired each year.
Ms Day said the welfare program is just one path for retired thoroughbreds.
“The horses that are retired from the industry about 50 per cent of them are mares, so that’s fifty per cent of them going straight into the breeding industry,” Ms Day said.
“There’s a huge equestrian industry that exists outside this program that has targeted race tracks for a really long time because any horse person who is watching races is shopping for their next horse.”
“There’s a real appetite outside of racing for these horses and this is just another way to cater for them.”
MP Paul Toole said that due to Bandanora’s size it had potential to expand the number of horses homed at the site.
Bandanora’s homestead and shearer’s quarters are tipped to be turned into a bed and breakfast to provide overnight accommodation for prospective buyers.
Ms Day said the property will become an equestrian hub in the Central West, offering facilities for community groups and riders, like the Thoroughbred and Veterans Welfare Alliance.
“This is a grassroots area and we can really support this region,” Ms Day said.
“[This will be] A really good place to train. We want this to be a bit of public face for equestrian in general. We will do programs with pony club.
“This property is all about bums in saddles.”
Scott Brodie, the manager of Racing NSW’s retraining program said it takes about six months to ‘rehabilitate’ ex-racehorses.
“It’s a very systematic program, there is certain goals we need to achieve. Obviously the training of a horse goes on forever but we get the foundation right.”
Horses are put in a paddock for up to three months to get used to socialising with other horses and heal any racing injuries. They then start a training program overseen by Brodie.
“Its about 12 week program. It does vary from horse to horse, but its pretty standard and effective. By the end of the day everything’s drummed into them pretty firmly.”