International advocates for equine aftercare emphasized owner responsibility and humane treatment in addition to sharing insights on retirement programs for horses whose racing or breeding careers have ended during the two day International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR), which held its first conference in Washington, D.C., on May 17 and 18, 2017.
The IFAR event coincided with the Pan American Conference, an international conference on Thoroughbred racing hosted by The Jockey Club and the Latin American Racing Channel.
“The IFAR conference featured presentations from a unique international gathering of aftercare participants from some of the sport’s top organizations in Thoroughbred aftercare,” said Di Arbuthnot, chairman of IFAR and chief executive of Retraining of Racehorses. “Having our conference coincide with the Pan American Conference enabled us to share our views on aftercare best practices with a truly global audience, which is part of our mission.”
IFAR conference topics covered all aspects of Thoroughbred aftercare, including post-racing options, connecting aftercare and horseplayers, harmonization of the rules of racing for owners, and standards for aftercare providers.
In her presentation to the entire Pan Am Conference on Thursday, Arbuthnot discussed IFAR’s vision for aftercare in the global Thoroughbred industry and reminded attendees how important aftercare is to the entire industry.
“We all have a shared responsibility for the welfare of racehorses, which extends beyond the track. Across the entire animal welfare debate, the spotlight is on an animal’s quality of life and the emerging concept of a life worth living,” Arbuthnot said. “The welfare of racehorses throughout their lifetime is one of the single greatest issues facing the racing industry. A key function of IFAR is to provide help and support by sharing expertise and good practice on a global basis whilst recognizing cultural differences.”
Thursday’s keynote address was delivered by Michael Blowen, a former film critic for the Boston Globe and founder and president of the Thoroughbred retirement facility Old Friends. He also made his presentation at the Pan Am Conference.
“Horses have value and I consider [equine] retirement a legitimate career. This is their third career. These horses are priceless. Racing is based on competition on every level: racing, breeding, sales and others. When these horses come to our farm, that competition is over. They tell us how they want to be treated,” he said.
“I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to have the thrill of a lifetime every day.”
The IFAR conference was hosted by The Jockey Club and supported by Godolphin and was open to all racing jurisdictions, aftercare organizations and other interested parties.
A video of the event and PowerPoint presentation will be available on the IFAR website, internationalracehorseaftercare.com, soon.
IFAR is an independent forum that recognizes geographical and industry differences among racing countries and is designed to enhance Thoroughbred aftercare worldwide. Working with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, IFAR will 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. For more information on IFAR, visit internationalracehorseaftercare.com.