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ex-racehorses, direct from trainer or one of the loan schemes?

(38 Posts)
Mitchy1nge Wed 09-Apr-14 00:03:50

apart from being spindly, sensitive and possibly sickly (compared to my sturdy native types) are there any other stereotypical pitfalls to be aware of?

theimposter Fri 30-May-14 15:30:51

To add to that she lived out 24/7 in a windy field on the coast for the 10 months before we had her and was fine! You could try Final Furlong also if you decide to go for it.

theimposter Fri 30-May-14 15:27:41

I got a 4yo ex flat racer as a returner to horse ownership and a break in riding a few years ago. She had done about 10 months of letting down/basic retraining and she has been brilliant. I am not the most amazing rider although do have plenty of years of experience and am a calm/non stressy rider without being a walk over. You do need consistent boundaries and a good routine helps but that is the same for most competition type horses really. Having regular lessons is a must. I have developed a few bad habits in my position where she is quite one sided from racing so it helps having someone on the ground to pick up on these early on.

Ex racers get a bad rep and as long as you are prepared to take the time and do things slowly then they can be great. You just need to think things through. They aren't for everyone though as are more sensitive/intelligent in my experience. She still finds shows a little exciting/stressful but is relaxing more every time we go out. My novice partner is learning to ride on her (with a good instructors help) so it can be done but I guess it's all down to individual temperament and everything he does with her is closely monitored for both their sakes!

Other than a nasty injury (when her rug got caught on a gate latch as we went through and ripped a hole in her leg and she was off for 4-5 weeks) and a skin disorder which is now eliminated (triggered by buttercups in her old field) she has been sound and fine touch wood. I would say her feed is no more than the other competition horses on our yard and our grazing is rubbish. Since changing to a better farrier last year (who takes time to think about the shape of her feet/building up heel gradually rather than just whacking on shoes) I have also not lost a single shoe and have gone from 4 weeks between shoeing to over 6.

Castlelough Mon 21-Apr-14 13:50:01

Mitchy it isn't anonymous but I'll pm you!

BelleOfTheBorstal Mon 21-Apr-14 13:02:01

Pippi123, reading about your boy was lovely. Sounds like he has landed on his feet with you guys!

Mitchy1nge Mon 21-Apr-14 12:50:47

smile she's 15hh so yes I suppose

they are just all ponies to me grin my horse is 15.2 but he is just an overgrown pony, he feels like one anyway

can you link to your board or is it not anonymous?

Castlelough Mon 21-Apr-14 12:36:32

Oh wow Mitchy I would LOVE a welsh pony some day, they are stunning! Ahem I even have a board on Pinterest for Welsh ponies! Assume you have purchased a horse rather than a pony though.

I think you've made a good decision. Your daughter is still quite young and a nervous TB could really rock her confidence. This sounds like a better project, and plenty challenging. Hope it does her good!

Mitchy1nge Mon 21-Apr-14 10:28:38

thank you, your TB sounds wonderful and lots of potential fun!

am not experienced in the least, really, just sort of muddle through and ask people for help if something goes wrong but yes have made a decision and bought a young welsh mare - she's quite a long way away but my friend backed her and said 'wish I had a child I could buy this pony for' but we had to wait until Easter for my daughter to go up and actually try her, she does indeed seem to have an unusually solid sort of brain and a very giving sort of heart which is a lot to ask but is all we want, the beautiful packaging is a bonus (although they all have their own charm I think)

we are very patient people so not expecting to go straight off to rallies or whatever, it will be wonderful for my daughter just to quietly bring her on at home at her own pace, she's not having a great time with various other things in life so this is her project

Castlelough Mon 21-Apr-14 09:26:31

Hi Mitchy,
You have had lots of advice there! Have you come to any decision?
It sounds as though you are an experienced horsewoman and have a number of horses already, and probably all the skills you would need to work with an ex-racehorse.
BooBoo raised lots of important considerations upthread, but the bottom line is that each horse is different and each trainer's routine is different, so each horse's life experience will vary.

I have a racehorse that has just come home to me with a pelvis injury. This is his second serious injury, both requiring prolonged periods of box rest. We had him living out 24/7 before he went into training and never had any trouble with injuries or illness. Despite being cooped up for the last 7 weeks he is like a LAMB in the stable, the sweetest horse you could meet.

The yard where he was trained did plenty of roadwork with him, most racehorses will be well used to the road and hacking as it is so good for fittening them.
They also spent the first month working with him on the lunge, so he has some experience of this type of work, but not a whole lot.

I am hoping to ride him for the first time this summer grin, am nervous and excited. He is my first horse and I wouldn't say I am as experienced as you are. The trainer says he is as 'quiet as an ass' (despite winning two point-to-points) so we'll soon see...

I would imagine that working with any ex-racehorse would be an exciting and challenging prospect, but one that demands patience.

My TB loves to live out. During the worst weather we rug him up and just bring him in at night.
Regarding competing an ex-racehorse, if he has actually raced, you could have a long road ahead before he is showring-ready. My horse used to trot right into the horsebox. Clearly going racing has affected him. He is now a terror to load and unload. Then, I imagine their experience of crowds, loudspeaker, other horses in a competitive situation could stir up quite a bit of nervous energy and excitement.

I suppose, to sum up, rehabilitating an ex-racehorse could be a very rewarding journey, and whether to acquire one direct from a trainer or from a centre would depend on how much of the groundwork you would like to do yourself with the horse.

Good luck!

pippi123 Thu 10-Apr-14 10:16:33

We got one of these by accident in a private sale over a year ago. I am quite embarrassed at how naive we were and we did all the things you shouldn't. We didnt look at his passport until he was brought to our stables and the owner was rushing off to an appointment. That would have shown he was TB racehorse and not ISH riding horse (ideal first horse - or for gullible inexperienced types only!) that owner had had for over a year. It also would have shown his real age ( much younger than we were told). We didnt take our instructor as we were assured he could go back if he proved to be unsuitable ( she spent the money and then stopped answering the phone). We also bought him at the start of the snowiest weather for years which meant he was stuck in for a couple of weeks. He was quite wild when he was lunged and bucked for England. He had been fantastic when we had been to look at him both DD and DH had jumped on him and he was good as gold so the bucking was a bit scary. The instructors all thought we had bought a mad horse. He had passed his vetting with flying colours.

Anyway, we couldn't return him and DD loved him. He also seemd to have had a lot of homes in his life. He was lovely and gentle in the stable so we persevered and had lots of short lessons with the instructor. He is now great. He has scored well on dressage tests and can jump well ( albeit in a gangly kind of way, although he is only 5! ).

We researched his history and it looks as if the owner had had him for a couple of months and had bought him from a point to point racer who had bought him from bloodstock sales a few months before. We can see that he would have been a rubbish racehorse, despite his bloodlines, as he is very laid back (now). Looking at the various adverts we found for him he had been in training over hurdles but had not actually raced.

In terms of stereotypical faults he does overreach and has had his shoe off about 5 times since we have had him. Twice he had a bruised sole and had to stay in for a bit. His hooves are not the best and pulling the shoes off has not helped with that. He does best when he is in his routine and needs riding most days. He does sometimes crib bite. But he is easy to load and is now able to stand still for as long as you want him to. He is very calm and sensible for his age, doesn't spook at much. He learns quickly and always tries to do whatever he is asked. He doesn't have lots of feed, mostly haylage and a bit of hifi to put biotin and garlic in. DD still loves him a lot!

Everyone warns you to avoid TBs when buying a horse but DD says that she would get another one. They aren't as mad and delicate as they are made out to be, racers get fed lots of energy food which we have avoided! He isnt any more trouble than the other horses on the yard, we have high hopes for him this year.

Booboostoo Thu 10-Apr-14 07:19:31

It's great that you have some experienced who knows the individual horses advising you.

Let us know how you get on!

Mitchy1nge Wed 09-Apr-14 22:21:49

thank you everybody, we're in Suffolk for those who asked so I suppose there are as many ex-racers swilling around Newmarket as anywhere. am not exactly tall (1.6m) or particularly long legged but I can get on my 15.2 horse from the ground with ease when necessary, either side and on the move if I have to! (this is not usual, just in a hunting or hacking or other fall type crisis). hadn't really thought about height to be honest. I think it's one of those situations where all that yoga finally pays off?

but anyway reading through booboostoo's really well thought out responses (thank you flowers) is helping me push the idea to the bottom of the options list - not ruling it out entirely but I think it's true that we'd have to have amazing good fortune to come across even a failed or much older ex-racer who would blend in with our existing routines (pretty non existent in the summer) and meet our needs. Although we'll see what darley come up with, if anything, they are pretty careful about matching horses and riders I think. And of course before I'd read and considered all the points on this thread I'd already asked what contacts I have what they think, one thought it was a great idea and said she knew a 14 yo free to a good home and one thought it was potentially disastrous! They both know us and our horses well so it was interesting to hear how polarised their views are.

I appreciate all the thoughts, it's hard to be realistic about the likely negatives of something once I start thinking about it!

elastamum Wed 09-Apr-14 21:12:21

I have got a warm blood and a TB that was raced. They are totally different in temperament. The wb is laid back and easy going. The T B gets really stressed by any change in routine. Both are lovely girls but I reckon it will take a couple of years of consistent work to get the TB to the point where my lovely WB is. So IM O they are fine if you have plenty of patience smile

Muddiboots Wed 09-Apr-14 20:55:02

Are you used to big horses, we had a tb that I bought at auction as didn't want to leave ger there, am a short arse and found just getting rugs on her was a struggle!
Friends daughter bought one last summer as a project , very experienced hunting family, he is sometimes lovely and sometimes a plank. Friend has threatened to shoot him on many occasions,esp when he rears up and falls on parked cars when loading.
On the other and lovely to look at, generally well mannered and can have fantastic paces.

Booboostoo Wed 09-Apr-14 20:51:36

If I've got this right OP you want a first competition horse for your DD who is not a very experienced or confident rider?

To be honest in such a case you want a been-there-done-that competition horse with a nice temperament and a tolerance for more novicey competitors (I don't mean your DD is a novice rider but she is a novice competitor which is a different thing). This doesn't mean the horse has to be a boring, push-button ride, indeed if your DD wants to compete there is no such thing. Even a simple transition in a Prelim dressage test takes a lot of riding, the rider cannot afford to be a passenger, so your DD will learn, improve and have fun. However, if she is to have a chance to learn the horse needs to teach her.

An ex-racer is a serious project for an experienced rider. The horse not only has to be taught everything, it has to be re-taught a lot of thing in many cases. It requires skill, experience and a feel for what one is trying to achieve.

Get her a nice TB cross some kind of native type horse (although don't dismiss anything just because of breed) that has experience at lower level, all round competitions and is ready to take to take a new rider around a 3 foot SJ/XC and do a nice Prelim/Novice test. If hacking is not a consideration for you this may help a lot as you could get a much better price on a horse that won't hack. Otherwise I think you need to think of an older horse to keep the budget reasonable.

Mirage Wed 09-Apr-14 19:26:34

I'm friend with the Diamonds in the Rough girls on FB,and they live not far away.She posted a dressage test that Fig did earlier in the week,where he did the most enormous spook and leap into the air.The judge had awarded them 0 points and written 'horror' on the sheet for that movement.

Booboostoo Wed 09-Apr-14 17:32:10

I think you have to be a bit careful here, racehorses direct from the trainer are a completely different thing that ones that come from a rehab charity.

Direct from the trainer you get a horse that has raced, that is all. That means:
- the horse probably won't know about hacking other than walking in a string to the gallops
- it almost certainly won't know anything about schooling and working in an outline
- it probably won't know anything about jumping in the sense of teaching SJ (gridwork, lengthening/shortening canter, etc.)
- it may have other idiosyncracies, e.g. may never have been mounted from a mounting block (leg up, sometimes while horse is moving is more common). I've seen a lot of racers that are not turned out at all, although I am sure management practices vary
- it may be rather speedy cantering in company in open spaces!
- travelling may so far have been an occassion for great excitment

That means that you are getting a very challenging project and you need serious experience, facilities and back up to take it on.

Getting a racehorse from a rehab charity means that they will have done some of the rehab work themselves and will be able to assess your riding skills and give you a realistic opinion on whether they could match you with a horse - a much safer option.

The Diamonds in the Rough sisters post a lot on HHO. They have done an amazing work with both their boys but keep in mind that they have a very good idea for a dressage horse and that the older sister is a semi-professional rider who teaches riding and specialises in difficult horses. Her ex-racehorse is a very talented horse but he still puts it the most enormous rears I have ever seen in my life - this is not malicious gossip PrincessSparkle posts about this very often on HHO and you can see some impressive photos of his above ground antics. The second racehorse they have is also a spirited character and has needed some skillful riding to get him to where he is. For example, he needs to be hobbled to travel in a box, at a show he needs to be ridden in the warm up, put back in the box to relax, and back out again for a second warm up before the test. They are doing incredibly well with their horses, all credit to them, but my point is that just because they make it look easy it doesn't mean that it is easy!

If you are looking for a horse for your DD to move onto after natives/ponies I think you are going to have to be very very lucky to find the right one in an ex-racer. I'd go for something purpose bred that had a bit of pony in it, like a TB cross connemara.

Incapinka Wed 09-Apr-14 17:07:13

He is lovely. Apart from the occasional nap!! But apart from that is very chilled and a bit like a big dog. I was worried about taking him off competing but he has been fine so far and I am just annoyed that my breeches and jacket are getting too tight to decently compete!!

Whereabouts are you? I would suggest phoning some of the rehoming places and discuss with them what you would like.

Off to ride my boy now. After such a glowing reference about him he will probably be a tantruming toddler grin

Floralnomad Wed 09-Apr-14 16:07:30

My first horse was an ex race mare , she did flat and hurdles and retired at 6 ,she was beautifully bred ( by Salvo) but generally useless. She was extremely high maintenance , we found that the only way to keep her remotely sane was to run a very strict regime .She was turned out every day ,but needed riding at least 6 days out of 7 . She was a beautiful hack ,very safe and good alone ,company was an issue if you were cantering as she got very competitive ( I was 14 when we got her) . She was rubbish in the school and just couldn't see the point in going round in circles so a lot of bucking ensued . She was also extremely accident prone and after retiring at 18 due to mental health issues( hers) she went on to 27 ,continuing to cost a fortune in vets bills . That said she was the love of my horse life and has been irreplaceable .

ruby1234 Wed 09-Apr-14 15:58:36

Where are you?

Ours are near York.

Mitchy1nge Wed 09-Apr-14 14:25:44

he sounds lovely!

no contacts no, except those people up the road who are at the other end of the industry and have yearlings and break them for racing

Incapinka Wed 09-Apr-14 13:46:34

Some horses are more accident prone than others....! I have an ex racer. He came out of training last year. They had him in training for one season and despite costing them a fortune at the sales due to his breeding they soon realised that his heart wasn't in it.

I've taken him back to basics with his jumping as he tends to launch himself but he is now enjoying life and managed to live out 24/7 through the winter. He has done 3 dressage comps so far and not been worse than 4th and hacks out in company or by himself. He's been cubbing and cross country schooling and I would be doing more if I could (I am 6 months pregnant and finding it frustrating at times!!) He has also got a lovely lollopy canter and so far has not shown any racehorse tendencies of wanting to go fast!

Basically all horses have different attitudes and so you just need to try them and see what you think. Do you have any contacts with any racing yards as you do need their input as to whether they have anything suitable for your needs...

Mitchy1nge Wed 09-Apr-14 13:21:26

I do quite want to a bit grin

for one thing I like travelling fast

but there seems a higher than average potential for things to go wrong, although of course as you say (and I have seen) hugely costly injuries and illnesses occur in any breed, and my daughter, I don't know how well she could detach and view a trial period as a trial

I don't want to end up with 100s of horses, my bum hurts as it is

5OBalesofHay Wed 09-Apr-14 13:07:08

Go on Mitchy, you know you want to grin

5OBalesofHay Wed 09-Apr-14 13:01:57

I am quaking a bit about the reputation for vet bills, but then our big hardy draft horse cost us 4.5k when she got cancer. Luck of the draw I reckon

Mitchy1nge Wed 09-Apr-14 12:45:23

hm that sounds the very definition of high maintenance! I am used to my own pretty undemanding, slightly aloof boys

50bales, oh yes I slightly blame you for this a bit and your lovely photo!

it took me a long time to pay off vet bills from a difficult abscess leading to bone infection, I couldn't cope with that on a regular basis

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