Carrie Humble M.B.E founded the BTRC in 1991 and enlisted the support of Sir Peter O’Sullevan as one of the patrons and Bernard Donigan, former equine superintendent with the RSPCA, as one of the trustees. The BTRC was granted charitable status in 1993.
After five years at Birkrigg Park Arabian Stud, near Kendal, where the BTRC leased just eight boxes and five acres, the demand for the work was such that a move to larger premises was vital. In November 1998 the Centre moved to the former livery stables at Poplar Grove Farm in Nateby near Preston where the BTRC leased 24 stables, 60 acres of land and an outdoor manege. The BTRC added an indoor school, field shelters, a round-pen and three more stables.
In April 2005, after a successful fundraising campaign and the receipt of substantial legacies, the BTRC achieved its long-held ambition – to buy its own property and have a permanent, secure location for the Centre. So a 200-acre former dairy farm, Whinney Hill at Halton, just North of Lancaster was finally purchased. The BTRC finally moved into the new location in September 2005 and has since added more stables, a dedicated vet treatment facility, an outdoor school and an oval horse walker (to see the facilities today click here). There is an ongoing programme of site development to ensure appropriate facilities for all BTRC horses. The BTRC is regarded as the role model of racehorse rehabilitation and retraining.
As the first Centre in Europe dedicated to Thoroughbred Welfare, Rehabilitation, Retraining and Rehoming, The Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre at Whinney Hill was officially opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal on 15th March 2007. Following a tour around the yard, The Princess Royal was invited to watch a demonstration of retraining in the newly built indoor arena. However, Thoroughbreds being Thoroughbreds had other ideas (check out the photographs below!) It seemed the shutter sound from all the photographer’s cameras spooked one of the demonstration horses but luckily HRH was quick to put a stop to it, telling the photographer to quit taking photos!