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The organisation Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) has opened many doors for those who own ex racehorses. This is because they offer specialised advice and clinics aimed at retraining these horses. They also offer classes in various disciplines for all horse which raced in the UK. However, ROR has recently had a lot of complaints about some of the rules in their showing classes. This is because horses can be marked down for racing injuries and blemishes. Many owners feel this is unfair as these horses haven’t always been show horses, and these blemishes reflect that they have had a previous career. Is it time the RoR blemish rule was revisited?
Why does the RoR blemish rule exist?
If you entered your horse in another type of showing class, you would expect to get marked down for blemishes, so why not in these classes? At the end of the day, a blemish is an imperfection in that horse. It is also important to point out, that if racing blemishes were allowed, what is to stop owners saying any blemish is racing related?
However, I do understand why these owners are calling for a change to the RoR blemish rule. These horses have already had careers in racing which puts a strain on their bodies. Surely the RoR should be celebrating their past life rather than punishing them for it. But as I have already mentioned, deciding how to classify blemishes as racing related could be a really difficult line to walk. Also, many owners claim that the blemishes are caused by practices such as pin firing (a controversial practice used to lengthen a horses racing career) so they shouldn’t be marked down for this. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling pin firing is illegal, or at least very very frowned upon. So I personally feel horses should be marked down on this to show how unhappy we as an industry are with this practice.
The RoR does great work either way
I have come across several people really slating ROR because of this one rule and saying you should enter Thoroughbred and Retired Racehorse Association (TARRA) classes instead, as they don’t discriminate against blemished horses. However, in these classes, horses don’t have to have raced, so it is more of a Thoroughbred show class than an retrained racehorse class. These owners are also claiming that by not ignoring blemishes, ROR are telling people to not rehome racehorses with blemishes. I think this is ridiculous. Fair enough it might put some you off if you are looking for a show horse. But ROR also host show jumping, eventing, dressage and more. Blemishes mean nothing in these disciplines.
After recently coming across many of these debates, I looked at the ROR website for a bit more information on classes and rules. I found that they offer two types of show series which ignore blemishes. These are, The Retrained Racehorse Challenge and the ROR/TARRA in-hand/ridden series. The other three show series do mark down for blemishes. However, I personally think if your horse is perfect for the class in every other way, it would be worth entering or talking to a judge to see how you would do.
Personally I am not that interested in showing classes. I enjoy the novelty classes, just for a bit of experience. However, I think the rules ROR have in place are fair and I don’t think they should have to change the rules. If it’s really that much of a problem, maybe have separate classes for horses with blemishes?
What do you think?