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Equine Vet Studies Life After Racing for Thoroughbreds

28 October 2015

AUSTRALIA - Identifying a knowledge gap, Melbourne-based vet and executive member of Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA), Dr Meredith Flash, decided to find out more about thoroughbred horses and what happens to them when they leave the racing industry.

“Equine vets care about the health and welfare of horses so it was important to look at how many of the horses bred each year go on to race, and where they go when leaving the thoroughbred breeding and racing industries,” she said.

Dr Flash’s award-winning research, involved studying the racing careers of 4115 thoroughbreds born in Victoria in 2005. This is the first time that horses from a foal crop have been followed from birth to nine years of age or retirement from the racing industry.

“Three-quarters (74 per cent) of the group officially entered training with 88 per cent of those horses participating in at least one race,” Dr Flash said.

“While there are some perceptions there’s a high rate of over-breeding in the racing industry, the results of my study revealed that this isn’t the case. In fact, 40% of thoroughbreds were re-homed to non-racing homes, 20% were breeding thoroughbreds, 19% were deceased, 5% were still racing and another 5% were sold interstate or overseas.”

Dr Flash received numerous awards for her research, including the Norman Larkin Prize and the ANZCVS College Prize as part of the shared EVA/ANZCVS Clinical paper session at EVA’s annual conference in 2015, something that humbled the veterinarian.

“It was amazing to receive the positive feedback and recognition from my fellow veterinarians for all the work that has gone into this study,” she said.

Dr Flash graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2006 and worked in racetrack practice for the first eight years of her career. Today, she owns her own business – Flash Services - providing locum services for equine practices in Victoria, and acupuncture services for horses and dogs in the greater Melbourne area.

Meredith has been involved with the EVA executive committee since 2007, first as the young member President, state representative for Victoria, Stakeholder chair and now Vice President of the EVA.

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