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International forum on caring for racehorses and OTTs goes virtual

Jennifer Hughes, General Manager - Equine Welfare (Racing Victoria).

Racing Victoria’s General Manager of Equine Welfare, Jennifer Hughes, describes IFAR's new virtual educational sessions as a fantastic way to connect and learn.


By Equestrian Life

The International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR) has announced a series of four virtual educational sessions from industry professionals across the world.

The independent forum — which recognises geographical and industry differences among racing countries and is designed to enhance Thoroughbred aftercare worldwide — is an annual event that is normally hosted in conjunction with various international conferences around the world. This year is the first time the forum will be done virtually in its five-year history, making it far more accessible for Australians.

The forum’s aim is to raise awareness of the importance of welfare for Thoroughbreds, improve education on lifetime care, and help increase demand for former racehorses in other equestrian sports. Each session will offer listeners the opportunity to learn from the speakers, engage with them through a live Q&A, and share the best practices they have learned with their native racing jurisdictions.

Racing Victoria’s General Manager of Equine Welfare, Jennifer Hughes, said the forum is a fantastic way for anyone involved in the racing industry — and those who work with off the track horses in their post-racing careers — to connect and learn from one another.

“This is super accessible and really exciting that anyone can listen, whereas normally you’d be getting on a plane and committing quite a bit of money to be a part of this,” Jen said. “It will give people an understanding of the importance that the industry places on post-racing, and also understand what the different structures are in different countries. And for people who are interested in having OTTs in the future, it can help them understand what’s in place and what incentives are available for support.”

“I had an OTT before I had anything to do with racing and if only I knew then what I know now,” continues Jen. “When I later went to ride racehorses, I then fully understood what that horse had been taught, how he’d been fed… and then everything that he was doing with me made sense.

“For someone who maybe has OTTs or a business that uses them, this can help them understand how that plays out in different countries and learn from that. For example, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in the US is probably one of the oldest and has a wealth of knowledge to share. It can just help so much to understand every aspect of the industry, both here and overseas, before you get involved with racehorses and ex-racehorses.”

Jen said the four sessions are targeted towards different audiences, such as racing regulators, trainers, and OTT owners, however they will be educational for anyone wanting to learn about the industry.

“The first session is for everyone and is geared towards making sure people understand the importance of post-racing programs, as well as understanding what different jurisdictions are doing to get different ideas.

“The second session is targeted at racing regulators, and we’ve got Martin Burns from New Zealand and Anna Smet from Western Australia who will talk about the updates to some of their new initiatives.

“The third session is looking at post-racing careers, so it’s designed for re-trainers and people who’ve got off-the-track horses. In that session, one of our Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainers, Lisa Coffey from Racing Hearts, will be speaking about OTTs in equine therapy.

“The final session is for industry participants, so people like racehorse owners and trainers and people who are working with the horses during their race career and highlighting the importance of post-racing to them — this also covers what people are doing during a horse’s racing career to maximise their second career.”

The series of four virtual sessions will be held on 6, 13, 20, and 27 April. Each webinar will begin at 12pm GMT (10pm AEST) and last approximately one hour. The sessions will be available to watch at your own convenience.

The schedule of topics and speakers for the four sessions are outlined below:

6 April, 2021: Aftercare in 2021

Moderator: Nick Luck (UK international racing broadcaster)


  • Di Arbuthnot: IFAR Chair
  • Jessica Harrington: Trainer (IRE)
  • Tik Maynard: Eventer (US)
  • Graham and Anita Motion: Owners, Herringswell Stable (US)
  • Nemone Routh: Racing office manager, Aga Khan Studs (FR)

13 April, 2021: Aftercare for Racing Administrators and Regulators

Moderator: Caroline Searcy (AUS)


  • Martin Burns: General Manager, Welfare & Sustainability, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing
  • Simon Cooper: Director, Weatherbys, General Stud Book (UK)
  • Dr. Anna Smet: Manager, Animal Welfare, Racing and Wagering Western Australia

20 April, 2021: Global Insights on Aftercare (Aftercare Providers, Equine Charities)

Moderator: Donna Brothers (US)


  • Stacie Clark: Operations Consultant, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (US)
  • John Osborne: Director of Equine Welfare and Bloodstock, Horse Racing Ireland
  • Dr. Ignacio Pavlovsky: Veterinarian, Owner, and Breeder (ARG)
  • Lisa Coffey: Founder and Director, Racing Hearts Equine Assisted Therapy (AUS)
  • Kristin Werner: Senior Counsel, The Jockey Club (US); Administrator, Thoroughbred Incentive Program

27 April, 2021: Aftercare for Racing Industry Participants: Owners, Breeders, and Trainers

Moderator: Francesca Cumani (UK)


  • Mark Fisher: Kotare Bioethics Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Dr. Eliot Forbes: Chief Executive Officer, AniMark Ltd. (AUS); member, IFAR Steering Committee
  • Tom Reilly: Chief Executive Officer, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Aushorse
  • Dr. Christopher Riggs: Director, Equine Welfare Research Foundation; Chief Advisor, Veterinary Science, The Hong Kong Jockey Club

All sessions are free, but registration is required. For more information about the conference and to register, please visit the IFAR website here. Recordings of each session will be made available on the IFAR website.

Click here for more information about IFAR.

This article was written in conjunction with Racing Victoria.






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