The race to find homes for retired racehorses

Suitable Aussies are being encouraged to open their homes and hearts to retired racehorses this Pet Adoption Month

  • Australia has the second largest racehorse industry in the world and is estimated to be worth more than $1billion
  • Statistics show there’s around 31,000 horses participating in races across the country
  • Racehorses can start their racing career as early as two years old
  • Four in five racehorses suffer an injury from training and racing
  • Close to one-third are made to retire from racing because of an injury or illness
  • Nearly half of those retired from racing will still end up working in equestrian sport, stock work or law enforcement 

Australia’s thoroughbred racehorse industry is the second largest in the world, but many horses are retiring young due to injury.

Horses can have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years; however, according to research, four in five horses suffer at least one injury from their intense training and racing5.

While limb injuries and bone fatigue are linked to the majority of deaths in racehorses, those who survive often end up retiring young.

But retiring from racing doesn’t end their work, with many moving to other industries which continues to strain their injuries.

So, animal rescue advocates are urging Aussies to adopt a rescue horse to give them a second chance in life and a home they deserve.


retired racehorse on farm Pet Adoption Month
A rescued retired racehorse (Rescued retired racehorse Photo by Elisa Pitkänen on Unsplash)

Mission to save racehorses

There’s no doubt that when it comes to pet adoption, dogs and cats are at the top of the list.

Given their size and additional requirements, finding suitable homes for retired racehorses is a challenge.

Luckily, there are people willing to help by providing a home for horses while they search for their new life.

Originally from Queensland, Australian woman Adrienne Marrone is passionate about providing a home for horses.

She left her corporate job in Seattle, USA, to move back to Queensland and look after two retired racehorses on her Scenic Rim property.

“I started riding horses when I was five years old and worked in the racing industry as a teenager,” says Adrienne.

“When the opportunity arose for me to buy a farm back in Queensland, I leapt at the chance and could not wait to start this journey.”

“For racehorses, their average career length spans two to three years and at that age, most horses aren’t even being broken in yet.

“So you end up with a large number of used-up and potentially injured horses that have limited places to go,” Adrienne adds.

Helping animals find their forever homes

Animal rescue organisation Waldo’s Friends aims to raise awareness and education of animal foster care and adoption.

Founder Sasha Gusain started the charity for this very reason – to help rescue animals find their forever home.

“In the last year, over 400 horses were surrendered to RSPCA shelters and are still waiting to be adopted.

“My mission is to bridge that gap and provide a streamlined process of adopting.”

Retired racehorse adoption Pet Adoption Month
Sasha Gusain founded Waldo’s Friends

“After going through our own pet adoption process and seeing our friends struggle with it, we created a Pet Finder and Shelter Finder on Waldo’s Friends.

“Now owners can search for their next pet and shelters can share the animals they have up for adoption.

“Unlike the racing industry, my goal is to not make a profit from these animals,” she adds.

“But for shelters, owners and the horses to succeed together, so that they can find their forever, restful homes faster.”

Adrienne’s two retired racehorses, 14-year-old Duke and seven-year-old Purton, are right at home on her Queensland farm.

Both rescues enjoy a consistent routine where they are fed twice a day and have unlimited access to space and grass.

Retired racehorses finding homes during Pet Adoption Month
Adrienne’s property is home to two rescued racehorses

They also receive a pedicure from their farrier every six weeks and bi-annual trips to the dentist.

“Seeing Duke and Purton relax over the last 12 months has been very rewarding,” says Susan.

“I’m passionate about loving and caring for animals that need a home and I have made a promise to each horse that they are home now.

“The one thing racehorses rarely get is time, so this is a precious gift we can give to them,” Adrienne shares.

Founded in 2017, Waldo’s Friends aims to drive awareness about the animal rescue and adoption ecosystem.

They currently work toward raising awareness and education of animal foster care and adoption.

Waldos Friends has released a pet finder engine that will help local animal shelters find forever homes for their rescues.


Here’s some of the many benefits of adopting a retired racehorse

Emotional connection Horses are known for their ability to form strong emotional connections with their owners. This bond can provide a sense of companionship and support that can be beneficial for both the horse and owner.

Training Racehorses are trained to respond to commands and follow a set routine, which makes them easier to train as pets. They often have basic training in manners and groundwork, which is helpful when transitioning to a new home.

Exercise Owning a horse can encourage physical activity, as taking care of a horse requires daily exercise such as grooming, riding, and training. This can help pet owners stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Outdoor activity Horses need to be kept in outdoor areas such as pastures, which means that horse owners have the opportunity to enjoy fresh air and natural surroundings.

Therapeutic benefits Horses have been used in therapeutic settings to help people with physical and mental health issues. The calm, gentle nature of horses can be soothing and provide a sense of comfort to those who interact with them.

Educational opportunities Horses can teach pet owners about animal behaviour, anatomy, and health. This can be a fun and rewarding way to learn new skills and gain knowledge about the natural world.

Bonding Rescuing a racehorse can be a very rewarding experience, and the bond between owner and horse can be incredibly strong. Many rescued racehorses are grateful for a second chance and are eager to form a strong bond with their new owners.

Health and longevity With proper care, racehorses can live long and healthy lives after their racing careers are over. This means that adopting a rescued racehorse can provide a pet owner with many years of companionship and enjoyment.

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