Perth racecourse celebrates the work of HorseBack UK and Retraining of Racehorses in helping veterans recover from conflict

On 30 July, Perth Racecourse hosted The Celebration of the Horse raceday to mark the invaluable work of charities HorseBack UK and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) in helping to provide much needed support and therapy to serving officers and veterans.

By utilising the unique bond between man and horse, HorseBack UK provides equine therapy to help veterans and serving soldiers overcome mental and physical injuries and trauma received in the line of duty. The loyal team of horses at HorseBack UK includes former racehorses, who have joined HorseBack UK with the help of RoR, and who are now enjoying a second career providing vital support to our brave servicemen.

Five months ago, former racehorse Peopleton Brook joined the HorseBack UK team, thanks to RoR. Peopleton Brook has been working with Jock Hutchinson, co-founder of HorseBack UK, who has been helping him adapt to his post-racing life, and training him to support veterans and serving soldiers through equine therapy.

During The Celebration of the Horse raceday, Peopleton Brook returned to the parade ring at Perth for the first time since his retirement and demonstrated the news skills he has learnt since working with the charity and how equine therapy is provided. In a poignant part of the day, Peopleton Brook was reunited with his owner George Thompson after four years apart. The two have a strong bond - Peopleton Brook is named after a brook where George and his brother used to fish when they were younger, before George’s brother was killed in battle in Malaya. This bond was very clear in the touching reunion between the two in front of the racegoers.

RoR is British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of horses who have retired from racing, helping them to adapt to different lifestyles and pursue second careers. Plans are in place for RoR to arrange for another former racehorse to join HorseBack UK’s ranks in the near future.

Thoroughbred racehorses continue to impress often for long periods after their racing careers are over. After retirement, more and more racehorses are going on to enjoy successful second careers, ranging from eventing to dressage. This transition highlights the versatility and adaptability of racehorses and is supported by the work of equine charities such as RoR and HorseBack UK.

George Thompson said:

Peopleton Brook and I have a very special bond, and being reunited with him after almost four years was a very poignant moment for me. My brother would be delighted and proud that a horse, named after the place which meant so much to us as we grew up together, is now helping our brave troops in their rehabilitation. I am so pleased that, subsequent to his racing career, Peopleton Brook has adapted so well that he can perform this valuable and worthwhile role.

Jock Hutchison, co-founder of HorseBack UK, said:

Roosevelt said “A man who is good enough to shed blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards”

We at HorseBack UK believe this, and provide time and space at the end of clinical recovery for injured veterans or members of the Armed Forces to fully adapt to both a new career and, for many, a new way of living.  At the heart of our efforts are our 39 trained horses. The horses demand good leadership. Our ethos here at HorseBack UK is essentially that horsemanship is good leadership and the process of learning horsemanship replaces confidence and self-esteem stolen during long recoveries.

Peopleton Brook is a horse whose own recovery epitomises the journeys endured by those we serve here.  He needed time and space to both recover and prepare for the next stage of his life after his long successful career.  He now has a new career and has found both purpose and happiness.

The Celebration of the Horse raceday was a great success and really helped us to convey the invaluable work of HorseBack UK, with RoR’s support, in helping our veterans and military personnel recover.

Peopleton Brook Career facts:

  • Peopleton Brook ran on 93 occasions in Flat Races in a career spanning over six years (a significant length of time for a Flat Racehorse) from June 2004 - July 2010. 
  • He won nine races in his career in a six year period – with his first win at Chepstow in June 2005 and final win at Lingfield in January 2010.
  • He achieved a high official rating in its career of 89, well above the average rating.