Retired racing animals are a life’s work for Mara

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Work and leisure are two different things for most people but for Mara Coombes life merges with livelihood.

At work, she is Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s Off the Track WA Marketing Coordinator, supporting racehorses in finding new homes and purpose when they retire.

At home, her family includes an off the track thoroughbred, an off the track standardbred and a retired greyhound.

Mara and her partner James Hughes only have one non-racing animal in their household – a mixed breed dog called Zoe, who they took in from the local pound.

“We’d been thinking of adopting a greyhound before we got Zoe, so when she started experiencing separation anxiety we went straight to Greyhounds as Pets WA to find a companion for her,” Mara said.

“We met Panna Party Boy, a black and white dog they called Peanut, and introduced the dogs to see if they’d get along. Everything went fine so we adopted Peanut.

“It’s been three years and Zoe hasn’t had an issue with anxiety since.

“Peanut loves to sleep on the couch and he’s happy to entertain himself but also likes company.

“When I’m cooking, he’s a trip hazard because he’s always right behind me.”

On moving to a five-acre property a couple of years ago, Mara wanted a standardbred for trail riding with James, a beginner rider. Along came striking chestnut All Over Red Rover.

“We were looking for a quiet horse, over 16hh and heard about Red through a mutual friend,” Mara said.

“We knew he was ideal as soon as we met him.

“Red and James got used to each other quickly and moved on from trotting around the paddock to going out on trails. Red takes everything in his stride.

“He was the best $500 we’ve spent. He’s been the perfect fit for us and he’s a legend.”

Mara has been so impressed with Red she has filched him from James for several competitions and a few OTTWA coaching clinics.

More recently she has included thoroughbred Beat the Devil in the family, whose name has morphed to Luci, as in Lucifer.

“I’ve only had him since April and I’m slowly bringing him into work. We’re doing flatwork and some Off the Track WA clinics for some coaching,” she said.

“He’s been quiet and even tempered when I’ve taken him out. I’m hoping to do some showjumping and eventing with him.”

Mara’s story would not be complete without including the first horse she owned – retired thoroughbred Finding Water, who she calls Walter.

Together they loved show jumping, eventing and trips to the beach until it was time for Walter to shift down a few gears.

“He’s a wonderful, honest horse and I didn’t want to sell him,” Mara said.

“A girl who lives nearby was looking for a confidence-building horse for quiet trail rides so he’s with her on a long-term free lease.”