Off The Track partners with Equine Pathways Australia

Racing Victoria’s (RV) Off The Track (OTT) Program has partnered with Equine Pathways Australia (EPA) to offer more opportunities for off-the-track horses to support athletes with a disability.

EPA helps people with a physical disability engage in equine sports and activities by providing sporting and community participation programs and integrated high-performance sporting programs for equines and athletes.

Initially founded in 2017 to provide a structured program for people with a disability or recovering from illness or injury to return to involvement in equine sport, EPA is now an accredited Paralympics Australia Centre of Excellence for Paralympic preparation.

EPA is a breeding ground for Paralympic athletes, with former jockey and current EPA member, Louise Cooper, aiming for Paris 2024. 

Another jockey, Brenton Primmer, who is riding again after suffering injuries in a race fall, is also hoping the make the next Paralympic Games and is currently competing on an Off The Track thoroughbred. 

There are also a number of retired racehorses involved in EPA’s program, including fan-favourite Jungle Edge, a multiple Group winner who finished his career with over $1.7 million in prizemoney, having won 18 races and placed on 25 occasions from his 89 starts.

Thoroughbreds bring a variety of attributes to the EPA program, including past experience being exposed to large crowds during their racing career which is something not many dressage horses have the chance to do. 

For EPA selection a thoroughbred should have paces, temperament and trainability that could ultimately lead to Paralympic selection.

Attributable Quotes:

RV General Manager, Equine Welfare - Jen Hughes:

“We are pleased to have entered into a partnership with Equine Pathways Australia and are looking forward to supporting the valuable work they do, not only in the high-performance area, helping athletes compete at World Equestrian or Paralympic Games level, but also in the vocational area, helping people to find employment within the industry.

“The great thing about EPA is that you don’t need to be an elite athlete to take part, they also offer clients the opportunity to re-engage with horses for fitness or to simply interact with other equestrian athletes, and we believe thoroughbreds are perfect in this role.

“The versatility, athleticism and intelligence of retired racehorses makes them ideal for a number of post-racing careers, including performance disciplines such as dressage.

“This partnership supports our broader equine welfare strategic plan, including our recently launched post-racing platform, Off The Track Community, which features an events page for dedicated Off The Track events, including clinics being held at EPA throughout the year.

“We are also continuing to grow our statewide rehoming network, which supports retired thoroughbreds transitioning into second careers, as well as expanding our Off The Track program to create more career opportunities for thoroughbreds who have retired from racing.”

Equine Pathways Australia Chairman, Brett Mace:

“Equine Pathways Australia is pleased to partner with Racing Victoria in this program to rehome and find a new role for some retired racehorses. 

“Our program provides a number of opportunities for selected horses to find a new role in equine sport and for that special horse the dream of Paralympic selection with one of our athletes.  

“The Equine Pathways Australia Horse Owner Program also provides a unique opportunity for the community and lovers of horses to partner with us to own one of these off-the-track horses and to play a significant part in the next phase of its life.   

“Being an owner of one of these horses can be wonderfully fulfilling as each horse partners with athletes in our program to change their lives and provide opportunities they might not have normally had.”