Graffham retreat offers second chance for retired racehorses

The Racehorse Retreat’s home in Graffham has a rich history.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 8:02 am

In the 1940s the stables were used by Florence Nagle, the first female trainer who paved the way for women. It was then used as a blood stock stable to breed racehorses.

“It feels like it has gone full circle where now we provide rehabilitation for racehorses,” explained Julie Clark, who co-founded the retreat with Dalton Lintott.

Both had previously worked at a racing retirement charity and felt there were other things they could do so decided to set up their own retreat.

Jack saying goodbye to his friends

The retreat has a holistic approach to looking after the horses once they have retired.

Julie said: “We look after vulnerable horses, so we have eight at the moment and a couple of ponies, as the racehorses don’t know how to unwind so we put them out in the field with the ponies so they can learn to play, unwind and graze.

“The horses are athletes and used to strict training and we give them space to relax. They are used to going on adrenaline and we try to reset this. We take a look at their injuries and then develop a plan for them so they can have a good recovery plan.”

The horses are either used as happy hackers, which Julie describes as the gentlest form of riding, some are retrained as equine assisted therapy horses or companion horses.

Julie said: “We had a lady whose husband died and she came to us to work with the horses. We teach them to do yard work, and then if they want how to groom and to ride.”

The retreat also loans horses out. Jack the Journey Man is on loan to Sue and Dave Whitney, who own the Angel Hotel in Midhurst.

“Jack is a special horse with kind responsible owners Edmund and Susanna O’Reilly Hyland who trusted and supported us to retrain Jack and find him a loan home after he finished his racing career,” said Julie.

“Edmund and Susanna really deserve a big thank you for being responsible for their racehorses once they have finished racing, it is important.

“Owners like this are greatly appreciated and are part of the future to ensure racehorses get the respect and care they deserve after giving their all and sometimes winning a lot of money.

“All racehorses deserve a safe, happy future after racing. Jack The Journey took approximately one year to retrain and Edmund and Susanna supported the whole journey.

“I’m not knocking the race industry, as we have good relationships with them, but we are there to provide somewhere for the horses to go when they can no longer race or breed.”

The horses can also be rehomed locally so that if there is any issues or people’s circumstances change the retreat can support them or take back the horses.

The retreat is currently a not for profit but they are working on becoming a charity.

Julie added: “We have 17 boxes and loads of grazing sites around Graffham. If there is a vulnerable horse that needs our help then we will help them.

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