RETIRED racehorses that could have been put down will be offered a new lease of life at a County Durham riding centre.

Greys Well Farm, in Tow Law, is taking in former racehorses and re-training them for new careers.

Emma Hawksby, who runs the centre, said racehorses were often consigned to the scrapheap when only three or four years old and some ended up being put down.

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 racehorse 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 were often used for breeding but male horses were often put down when their racing career was 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 and give them a new career.”

In 2011, Ms Hawksby rehomed four ex-racehorses and she has 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 accommodating large trucks.

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