New project will use racehorses for therapy

Joe Carter and Michael Peace ANL-150218-133725001
Joe Carter and Michael Peace ANL-150218-133725001

A pioneering project is currently being trialled in Newmarket which could see the development of a world leading centre providing equine therapy, using racehorses, for humans.

The two-year pilot project from town-based charity Racing Welfare aims to investigate the use of equine assisted therapy as a means of enhancing the wellbeing of people working in racing.

The therapy project, known as Thoroughpeutics, is the brainchild of Racing Welfare’s addiction and recovery advisor Joe Carter and work on its development started at Newmarket’s British Racing School in December. Also involved in well-known horse therapist Michael Peace who originally began a career in racing back in 1984 as an apprentice jockey in Newmarket working for Luca Cumani and the late Michael Jarvis.

“Equine assisted therapy has proved incredibly valuable in other areas of society, and has been growing rapidly in regard over recent years,” said Joe. “It has helped people with bereavement, stress, injury, depression, dementia, addiction, relationships, anxiety, trust, work issues, and many other day to day challenges.

“We now have an opportunity to see how it could be specifically developed for us in racing; an industry based on our connection with horses.”

The project is being supported by the Racing Foundation with an initial grant of £30,000, the British Racing School which is providing a base and the Jockey Club and the British Horseracing Authority. It was also championed by Lesley Graham, who recently resigned as chief execuitive of Racing Welfare.

“The dream would be for this trial to eventually see us able to develop a world-leading purpose-built centre for Thoroughpeutics in Newmarket and then have one in every racing centre across the country,” said Joe.

Racing Welfare housing officer Keith Bovill has backed the project and said it could be linked with a £3million flagship proposal for 21 ‘dementia friendly’ accommodation units for racing staff in Newmarket.

Outline planning consent for the homes has already been granted and a detailed proposal is set to be submitted next summer.

“So often racing people suffering with dementia are moved to care homes out of town away from their support network and the things they know. Staying in Newmarket and still having contact with horses could be invaluable to them,” he said.