RETIRED race horses that could have been put down will be offered a new lease of life at a North-East riding centre.

Greys Well Farm in Tow Law, County Durham, is taking in former race horses and re-training them for new careers.

Emma Hawksby, who runs the centre, said race horses are often consigned to the scrap heap when only three or four years-old and some end up being put down.

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But her centre, which has just received funding to build an all-weather arena, wants to take them in and re-home them.

She said: “A race horse will often be retired at an age when most other horses are just starting on their careers as eventers or for people to ride.

“All they know is racing so we want to provide these horses with the chance of a new career.”

The 23-year-old, who is the second generation of her family to run the farm, said retired females are often used for breeding but male horses are often put down when their racing career is over.

She said: “They can be quite highly strung when they come out of racing and we try to teach them how to be normal riding horses again.

“It doesn’t work for all the horses but for 90 per cent we can re-train them and give them a new career.”

In 2011 Ms Hawksby rehomed four ex-racehorses and successfully schooled two further ex-racehorses that now compete in events. Greys Well Farm also breaks and schools young horses on behalf of clients along with offering coaching.

Ms Hawskby also uses the facilities for training horses and riders at her Events Academy. Work has now started on a new all-weather arena which will allow them to work all year round and a new car park capable of dealing with big trucks.

Ms Hawksby has received £14,969 for the developments from the North Pennines Dales Leader project, which is aimed at improving rural life.

One of the project’s main focuses is supporting micro-businesses like Greys Well Farm and Sue Ellwood from the scheme said they had been impressed with Ms Hawksby’s work so far.

She said: “With this new arena, Emma can provide training and coaching in a safe and secure environment throughout the year.”