MOORCROFT Racehorse Welfare Centre, at Slinfold in West Sussex, is one of only four charitable racehorse rehabilitation centres in the entire country to receive part-funding from Retraining of Racehorses in recognition of its outstanding work in retraining and rehoming former racehorses.
Based at Huntingrove Stud, it is also the only charity of its type in Sussex and surrounding counties, and operates to a very high standard and achieving a professional top level of rehoming retired racehorses under the management of Mary Henley-Smith. For the remaining funding it relies on its own fund-raising efforts, including an annual Plumpton Raceday and a Quiz night, as well as donations.
Chairman of Moorcroft trustees, Tim Fox, with Mary Henley-Smith
It has a number of prestigious trustees, headed by chairman Tim Fox, who ensure that it carries out its mission to re-school and rehabilitate former racehorses that have been gifted to Moorcroft so they can have a real chance at a second career.
It is temporary home for a maximum of 28 horses and these come from a variety of racing backgrounds and this charity’s function is to retrain them and find suitable alternative homes based on their abilities and needs- which it does to an impressive standard.
There are some outstanding success stories of retrained racehorses, including Ravenclaw, an 11-year-old who raced a total of 13 times in his racing career, which spanned from late 2008 until 2011. He won at Fontwell in 2011 and was also second at Plumpton, where he returned last year to represent Moorcroft in a parade of ex-racehorses.
Ravenclaw before retraining
Mary said: “He found his racing life difficult and it had taken a lot out of him, but he has had two years of less stressful work since then and he is much better for it. It has been a pleasure to re-train him here at the centre and as he is only 11-years-old, he still has much to give and has a great temperament. He is now ready for rehoming.”
Ravenclaw after retraining
Photos taken of him when he arrived at the centre and as he is now, show how much he, like other horses, has benefited from the careful retraining and rehabilitation given at Moorcroft. Others like him that have gone to good homes recently and these, who enjoy a life of hacking and schooling, with non-pressurised competitions in between, include Istanbul and Bluegrass Stampede, now living in Surrey and Yorkshire respectively. Rising Star is in Gloucestershire and Hoorah Henry lives near Windsor.
Two waiting in the wings for new homes are French-bred St Denis and Global Traffic. St Denis is a 16.3hh eight-year-old who now hacks and schools well, but is not a novice ride. He is established in his work and would make a great horse in the show ring or dressage arena. Global Traffic, aged nine, ran 40 times between 2006 and 2009 and had more than 10 placings in his career.
Mary described his temperament as ‘extremely generous’, adding: “He does love his work, but racing has taken its toll on his body and he needs a quiet life somewhere, where someone is prepared to put more in than they take out.”
Meanwhile Moorcroft has been able to bring its facilities up to a very high standard in recent years, thanks to its own fundraising, generous legacies and donations from supporters. It has an indoor school, a hay storage barn and has been able to replace its 20-year-old horsebox with a three-horse Betfair sponsored box and is grateful to all these benefactors who help sustain this worthwhile charity.
Moorcroft also puts something back into the local equestrian world with an ongoing programme of clinics, lectures and demonstrations organised by Mary, that are increasingly popular.
Next month sees a long-reining course and on Saturday May 3 at 11am there will be a demonstration of ridden Moorcroft horses, accompanied by an explanation of postural problems that all ridden horses can suffer and how to help improve these.
For full details see:www.mrwc.org.uk or contact 07929 666408 ( daytime only).