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Why Research ?

  • Prizes
    *NEED CLARIFICATION EAS (HEIR) category Question : Sir Peter O'Sullevan Trust - *Nigel can we offer a prize of £500 to each of the category winners (ie under 18 and over 18 to the HEIR organisation their horse is based at? Win £500 for the HEIR organisation Win a photography shoot (for winner) Voucher for a session at EAS centre at HEIR organisation *(Anna can we clarify this please ?) *Other goodies TBC for winner / centre (eg ought the NAF prize be to the winner of community category or to EAS centre ? National Racehorse Week Category (Community Category) 1 prize of 2 x BCD 2024 tickets *1 prize of NAF bundle worth £500 (this can be tailored to the winner’s needs)* see above note 1 x photography shoot
  • Entry rules
    EAS category (HEIR) Geographical location HEIR - list of centres Link to HEIR Register Link to Sir Peter O'Sullevan Trust website Age : how do we request proof of age ? GDPR compliance ? Gabi would you have experience here ? useful link Community Category / National Racehorse Week 56 Centres (list please) Link to the NRW site Tickets - dates, type of ticket, how to obtain, named ? Or they can gift ? Photo shoot : need to set parameters and dates for this Link to NAF ? Dates Entries open : Entries close : Announcement : When prize will be received : Number of entries : One entry per entrant for each category Anything else we need to consider ? Eg for NRW ... Entry conditions - complete short feedback / research Suggest no more than three short radio button responses plus a box they can type up to a certain number of words to answer an open question, then their submission for the essay competition ? Any other points to consider ?
  • How ?
    The competition has two age groups: Under 18’s and over 18’s Your piece of writing should be no more than 500 words long and can be in any written format (or by video or voice transcription if appropriate). Entries can be emailed to
  • When ?
    Deadline for submission for both age groups is DATE 2023. The entries will be judged by a panel of industry experts and winners will be announced by a very special guest judge on DATE via the Racing to Relate social media channels.
  • Why ?
    As well as highlighting the incredible work Thoroughbred horses do to help and support us in EAS and in the Community, there are also some very special prizes to be won, including goodies for the winning authors, a prize for the HEIR registered centre your horse is based at, *plus a voucher for you to use at an EAS centre of your choice. For more information don't hesitate to contact us at
  • What ?
    We would like you to share your story of your favourite Thoroughbred in a HEIR registered EAS organisation and tell us how your chosen horse has impacted your life.
  • Research is fueled by curiosity: we get curious, ask questions, and we set out on a voyage of discovery.
    Racing To Relate was born of a shared passion to help former racehorses to help people, and we had SO many questions! Setting up as an official charity, we faced many external questions too...what is the scientific evidence-base for public benefit of 'equine assisted therapy' never mind with a Thoroughbred off the track? It quickly became clear that research was going to be vital for us to make a meaningful impact. Little did we know how valuable an evidence-based approach would become to the open hearts and minds of such a rich cross sectoral collaboration as the one we have developed today. More about that here. With the help of some brilliant minds, we put together a hefty bibliography of abstracts, referenced articles by academics across the globe and submitted them to the Charity Commission. Almost a year later we successfully established our charity with a good deal more insight into the challenges that lay ahead.
  • Benefit to the horse ?
    As a charity concerned with the long-term welfare of former racehorses and positive relationships with humans, we found a marked gap in research from the horses' perspective, the welfare of equines in equine assisted services and certainly of former racehorses in this sphere.
  • So how could we actually make headway helping former racehorses to help people ?  
    What does that look like? What does it look like at the moment and how could it look going forward? How can we encourage others to support us in supporting former racehorses in this work? What roles do former racehorses have in this sphere, and what is the extent of this? We needed to ask if equine assisted services were good for the horse as well as the humans. How do you choose a horse for equine assisted activities? How would you select a Thoroughbred for these roles? How do you measure their welfare? What training or re-training might they require? What are other peoples’ experiences with Thoroughbreds in this context?
  • How to answer so many questions ?
    Amidst a time of much uncertainty, a world rocked by the COVID pandemic, we were incredibly fortunate to begin a collaborative PhD research project with the University of Bristol, which was very kindly funded by the John Pearce Foundation to find the answers.
  • First major hurdle ?
    It is really difficult to neatly frame exactly what equine assisted 'therapy' is or isn't, and the benefits thereof to human or horse. As we found out, there are significant gaps and obstacles to scientific rigour concerning the benefits to humans of a such an increasingly popular sector, one as wide and varied as the sea of terminology used to describe it. Challenge enough for potential prescribers, funders and insurers to distinguish categories and methods of delivery let alone impact for a field of activity that for the Charity Commission in the United Kingdom, comes under the auspices of 'Complementary and Alternative Medicine' (CAM). "CAM organisations that claim to cure a condition must be able to provide appropriate scientifically-based evidence for their claims. CAM organisations that work to provide comfort and relief to patients, rather than claiming to cure or treat a disease, may be able to rely on other types of evidence, such as reports by patients, or observational studies based on patient responses, to demonstrate their public benefit. The outcome of the review will primarily affect new applicants to the register." You can read more about this in the Charity Commission Annual Review 2018-1019 (at page 24 )
  • What 'need' are we responding to ?
    We identified a specific and recognised need clearly expressed by racing authorities and official aftercare bodies nationally and internationally for a robust evidence-based approach to transitioning and re-training former racehorses to ensure a better understanding of and connection with equine assisted services.

Kindly funded by the John Pearce Foundation

"Although there is a wealth of evidence to suggest we humans benefit from Equine Assisted Therapy, there is - as yet - little research on the role of former racehorses in this field. Sensitive, responsive, and used to being handled by humans, they can be uniquely suited to supporting people in need; but what traits makes an individual horse right for the job? What is the best practice for retraining horses for this purpose? How can we ensure their welfare even as they help people with theirs?


At a time when racehorse welfare is gathering significant global attention, Racing To Relate CIO stepped up and said “let’s find out”. Their collaborative research with the University of Bristol aims to create an evidence-based standard for off-track racehorses working as therapy animals, using their  Thoroughbred Assisted platform to share guidelines, champion best practice, and engage with audiences both in racing in beyond. I couldn’t be more thrilled that the John Pearce Foundation is supporting this important step in their journey, joining colleagues at the British Horseracing Authority, the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust and the Childwick Trust - to name a few!” 

- Emilie Greener, Charity Manager at The John Pearce Foundation 


PhD Research
Project with University
of Bristol Vet School


Funded by The John Pearce Foundation

The Selection and Education of Former Racehorses (Thoroughbreds) for Equine Assisted Services:

Developing the Evidence Base for a Global Standard

In undertaking this focused research, Racing To Relate gain a broad understanding of the diverse ways in which horses are used within programmes to assist people. It will also indicate how former racehorses might fit into this picture, both now and in the future.

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PhD Study

Successful Pilot at 
Ballygraffan in NI

Funded by The Down Royal Corporation of Horsebreeders

The pilot followed the transition of a number of Thoroughbred former racehorses in a monitored training/retraining programme at an EAS facility 'Horses For People' in Northern Ireland.


This experimental cross-industry collaboration was run in parallel with the first ‘Audit’ Phase of the Racing To Relate /University of Bristol PhD and was geared towards complimenting the Phase Two field studies across a number of EAS facilities.  

International Symposium

Universal Language of
The Horse Symposium
Deauville 2023


In Collaboration with the Horses & Humans Research Foundation, USA

We had the privilege to co-organise this international symposium which took place at the Longines International Equestrian Centre, Deauville.  Speakers arrived from all over the world to presenting on a variety of equine assisted service research.


It was a truly innovative format, bringing research from the lab to the arena, quite literally, featuring a number of live interactive demonstrations with research and equine-assisted practitioners and horses, including former racehorses and Veterans working with horses.

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