Retired racehorse brings joy to elderly in new heartwarming scheme

  • A retired racehorse has been popping in for tea with the elderly as part of a heartwarming new scheme.

    Racing charities Greatwood and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) are working with the Racing Together team to spread joy through horses. The six-week pilot, which started on 2 September, involves former racehorse Ouzbeck visiting a care home in Marlborough, Wilts. The aim is to explore and measure the benefits to physical and mental health of care home residents.

    Ouzbeck, formerly trained by Alan King and Emma Lavelle, won 10 of his 38 starts on the track. The now 19-year-old Denham Red son has added a new string to his bow in his senior years with his care home visits.

    “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,” said Helen Yeadon, founder and managing director of Greatwood.

    The aim for the pilot is to celebrate racehorses’ versatility and provide another way to connect racing with the public, alongside the hoped-for physical and mental health benefits. If successful, the plan is to then connect more former racehorses with community groups.

    “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,” said Racing Together’s community engagement manager, Lucy Gurney.

    “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 are taking place across six mornings, where residents come out to see Ouzbeck on the lawn and can groom, stroke or just watch him, along with enjoying a chat with the Greatwood team.

    “We are very excited about being involved – both residents and staff,” said a spokesman for the care home.

    “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.”

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