Power to Transform the Lives of Humans and Horses


Competitors at the 2021 Community TAB HorsePower Australia Winter Family Fun Day held on Friday 9 July, showed there can be surprisingly little difference between a racehorse and a therapy horse.

Held at HorsePower’s Collie centre, few people watching Little Red and Kenny gently carry riders of various abilities through the fun day activities would guess their earlier lives were spent in the fast lane of the horse racing world.

Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s Community TAB partnered with HorsePower for the annual event, which drew about 30 participants from the Mid West, Great Southern, South West and metropolitan area.

RWWA Chief Executive Officer Ian Edwards said a growing band of retired racehorses, including Little Red and Kenny, were joining HorsePower, formerly known as Riding for the Disabled.

“It’s very rewarding to see our Off the Track WA program transform racehorses into therapy horses, who in turn transform the lives of people,” Ian said.

“We carefully select horses for HorsePower to match their needs and arrange specialist training for work with people who have physical, intellectual, emotional and social challenges.”

“After a trial period to make sure we have the right match, the horse is donated to HorsePower.”

HorsePower Executive Officer Kelly Mansfield said the off-the-track horses offered wider opportunities to riders.

“We have a lot of ponies and older retirees in the program. The horses from Off the Track WA are younger, sturdier and bigger so they allow our riders to develop their abilities and progress to independent riding,” Kelly said.

“The ex-racehorses are fantastic for older and larger riders, who form long-term connections with the horses.”

“We have riders of all ages and all abilities. Horse activities provide amazing benefits from improved balance and muscle strength to concentration, confidence and social skills.”

“The winter fun day is an opportunity for people across the state to compete in a safe and friendly environment. There’s a big arena, forest trails and inclusive carriage driving, with purpose-built wheelchair loading carriages that have dual control, the coach can pick up the reins if a participant need a little extra support.”

“Assisted or independent, everything is done to the ability of each person and it’s about fresh air, fun and wind in their hair.”

“Children with disabilities don’t always get the opportunity to compete in traditional sports days, but on a horse, it’s hard to distinguish disability, you just see the child and they can experience the challenge of sport and competing against peers.”

Image: Cara Darling and Ethan Price with Little Red.