Racing charities Greatwood and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) are working with the Racing Together team to deliver a pilot programme at OSJCT Coombe End Court care home in Marlborough.
Greatwood – based on the outskirts of Marlborough- was the first charity to use former racehorses to educate children, young people and adults with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Coinciding with the inaugural National Racehorse Week (12th– 19th September), Greatwood is now revisiting its original concept of developing and measuring the benefits of introducing former racehorses to the residents of care homes. The six-week pilot programme, working alongside both RoR and the sport’s community partnership, Racing Together began on 2nd September.
Emotional wellbeing, mindfulness and inclusion are at the heart of all Greatwood’s programmes. This pilot aims to explore and measure the impact on, and the benefit to physical and mental health of the residents in the care home, and to use these findings to build and promote wider support.
Helen Yeadon, Founder and MD of Greatwood Charity, said: “Following a successful career on the racecourse, Ouzbeck embraces his new path in helping children and young people at Greatwood, and he is enjoying venturing further afield and improving lives within the older community.”
This pilot aims to celebrate the racehorse, showcase their versatility and provide another way to connect horseracing with its communities and to the public nationwide. Once evaluated, it is hoped that the programme will be extended to connect more former racehorses with community groups.
Lucy Gurney, Community Engagement Manager for Racing Together, added: “The horse-human bond is unique to racing as a large spectator sport, and equine-assisted intervention is a field that is going from strength-to-strength. We are delighted to be growing the knowledge-base in this area alongside RoR and Greatwood.
“The pilot focuses on a key area of Racing Together’s strategy. We are so pleased to be providing our support, and to be exploring how former racehorses can help people.”
The visits enable the residents to interact with Ouzbeck in a way that suits them, by watching and stroking him, by grooming him and chatting to the Greatwood team. The visits take place across six mornings, where residents can come out to see him in small groups, assisted by care home and Greatwood staff to make the most from his time spent on the lawn in front of their home. Ouzbeck is well known around this area as when enjoying an active career as a racehorse, Ouzbeck was trained by one of our top trainers, Emma Lavelle, just down the road from Marlborough in Ogbourne Maizey.
The Care Home team said: “We are very excited about being involved – both residents and staff. The residents will be talking about Ouzbeck’s visit all week. One lady is really excited, having been involved in racing. It is a great confidence boost after Covid and a huge boost for all of us.”