Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced the seven Victorian equine businesses that will receive financial support to help boost their operations to expand the opportunities afforded thoroughbreds once they leave the racing industry.
Launched in March, the Off The Track Business Grant Program was primarily targeted at Victorian businesses that the racing industry had not traditionally worked closely with as a way to explore new pathways for thoroughbreds post-racing.
While not only helping support small Victorian businesses, the objective of the grant program is to help stimulate these organisations to accommodate more thoroughbreds, including those currently operating with them or looking to take them on for the first time.
The Off The Track Business Grant, made possible by RV’s equine welfare fund, will contribute close to $70,000 to help improve services offered by horse/trail riding businesses, equine therapy centres, equestrian centres and children and adult riding schools.
Following a strong response to the application call out, the seven Victorian businesses that will receive funding from RV to support their projects are;
- Balmoral Equestrian Centre– established in 1989 and since then has become one of the leading equestrian centres in Australia. Well known for its high standards of training, tuition, care and above all an enjoyable and friendly atmosphere. The centre is also recognised as an Australian Paralympic Centre of Excellence and is the home of Equine Pathways Australia.
- LBR Equestrian– a riding centre that takes on riders from all walks of life. The centre specialises in training riders with disabilities, both physical and intellectual, often starting them on the pathway to both the Special Olympics and the Paralympics.
- JW Equestrian– creates opportunities for people who don’t have their own horse to learn to ride – this includes a kids holiday program and adult days. They are currently teaching over 40 lessons per week across six days and cater to all disciplines, from dressage to show jumping, as well as simply riding into the nearby bush.
- Watson’s Mountain Country Trail Rides– a family run horse trail riding business that has been operating for 39 years in the Victorian High Country. Watson’s offers rides from one hour through to seven days and operate all year round. They currently have 50 horses in work.
- Jackson Park– has been running their equine therapy program since 2018 and opens their doors to clients suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, autism, MND, Noonans disease, and ASD ranging from children through to the elderly.
- Racing Hearts– works with a team of retired racehorses providing equine assisted therapy to individuals in the local community who have psychological, intellectual and physical challenges and disabilities. Their sessions include both mounted and on the ground sessions where retired racehorses assist the clients to learn how to feel and express their emotions and learn how to behave in a healthier way.
- Melbourne Equine Therapy– established in 2018 by Tee O'Neill in collaboration with her partner, Dr Alan Jager, a psychiatrist and active thoroughbred owner and breeder, by transforming their Yarra Valley property from a broodmare and agistment facility, to a haven for Off The Track thoroughbreds. In addition to Tee, another equine assisted learning practitioner and two equine therapists have come on board and a steady stream of referrals have followed for individuals requiring their services.
The seven grant recipients will take on various projects, including capital upgrades, coaching, human resourcing, horse re-educating and the acquisition of new equipment, with the aim of increasing the breadth of career options for non-competitive thoroughbreds and providing longevity to thoroughbreds in their post-racing career on a sustainable basis.
The Off The Track Business Grant Program complements the various post-racing initiatives RV has introduced over the past 18 months, including the RESET Program, Retrainer Capacity Expansion Grant Program, COVID-19 relief support scheme for RV Acknowledged Retrainers, and partnerships with organisations such as the Riding for the Disabled Association of Victoria, to help enhance the post-racing opportunities and support for racehorses in Victoria.
Quotes attributable to RV General Manager – Equine Welfare, Jen Hughes:
“We received a strong response to the application process so it was extremely difficult to narrow down the successful applicants for our inaugural Off The Track business grants.
“The aim of the business grant program is to increase demand for thoroughbreds and explore new non-competitive avenues for retiring racehorses to enjoy a second career.
“Those selected will be able to deliver the necessary projects to increase their capacity to take on more thoroughbreds or introduce them into their operations for the first time.
“They are undertaking some really important work in the wider community, especially in the area of equine assisted therapy, so it’s great that we can provide them with some extra financial support to continue this work, whilst helping improve the opportunities afforded thoroughbreds post-racing.
“While this program will directly benefit these businesses it will also provide new pathways for horses graduating from our RESET Program that assists retired racehorses that have struggled to find second careers post-racing.
“With the high volume of applicants our aim is to roll the business grant program out annually, to support more businesses to address opportunities that would allow them to take on more thoroughbreds.”