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The tack room

Retrained racehorse

6 replies

MrPickles73 · 14/08/2023 07:47

We are looking for a new horse for DD1 who is 13. She has sadly outgrown her pony.
We have looked at a number of horses and now found one she really likes which is a restrained thoroughbred race horse age 11. It's had 2 owners since racing and has been used for pony club which is what we are looking for. He is super calm on the ground and seems relaxed ridden too. Previous rider was 15.
Has anyone else bought / looked at a retrained racehorse as an all rounder?. Is there anything specific we should ask / be aware of / budge for?
Thankyou in advance.

OP posts:
twistyizzy · 14/08/2023 08:06

I am on my 4th ex-racer. They are fantastic horses and make brilliant all rounders but they do require a certain amount of management. Feet can be poor (although not a certainty and my current boy has excellent feet) so a good farrier and strict shoeing regime is essential.
They don't need pumping full of feed as long as constant access to either hay or grass. As much turnout as possible.

Once you tap into a TB brain they are easy to understand but, for example if they get strong then you loosen the rein rather than tighten it because in racing picking up the rein = go faster. So when my boy starts jogging I chuck the reins at him which is completely counter intuitive. The best thing is to have lessons with an instructor who understands TBs or that particular horse.

You also need to be aware of certain health issues that they are more prone to eg Kissing Spines, early onset arthritis etc due to being backed and ridden so early so a thorough vetting is essential and also get full veterinary history eg whether horse has had ulcers previously.

I am hooked on TBs and would never have another breed!!

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 14/08/2023 09:59

I wouldn’t own anything else I LOVE them.
However they aren’t always the easiest of keepers, crap feet is a pretty common problem, kissing spines, and ulcers are pretty prolific.

There are a few things to consider with an ex racehorse, I’d check it hacks alone, a lot don’t, they never do until they leave racing. I’d also check it doesn’t “light up” cantering in company.

If your hacking is out and back I’d see if he’s done that, when horses gallop they trot up and gallop back, so if you turn they might assume it’s go time!

I’d get his racing name and look him up on the racing post and see how much he did and look for clues, things like “took keen hold” anything about them not settling in the race or “unruly before the start” can be red flags.

They are wonderful horses and echo PP, if you “get them” and get how their brains work they are fantastic, and they are usually fantastically easy to handle… but they are big, athletic and if something goes wrong it can involve going wrong at some speed… which is worth considering.

Pleasedontdothat · 14/08/2023 11:15

My DD’s current project is a 6 year old retired point to pointer - he is basically a golden retriever in horse form. He’s French-bred so is mostly TB but has some Arab in him. He came out of training earlier this year as he showed zero talent at racing but has taken being a baby eventer in his stride. He wouldn’t be suitable for a novice as he's 17.2 and his reactions are very quick but in a few years time I suspect he’d be fine. Ex-racers can vary hugely in size, looks, temperament so the fact that the one you’re looking at is already doing the job you want him for is a good sign.

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 14/08/2023 11:28

Oh another vital thing to check is what his management is like, if they’ve come from a big stud, and gone straight to a big Newmarket yard chances are they’ve been in a hugely rigid routine since a yearling, and some don’t cope without the routine.
Is that something the current home sticks to, id chat to them about that as they can get very upset if thrown out of routine so maybe something to consider if for a teenager and social life/school etc might get in the way of sticking to that routine

starlightmagic · 14/08/2023 11:30

I absolutely adore mine he’s been a top class all rounder however he has rubbish feet, is accident prone as anything and at 21 he has advanced cataracts and extensive arthritis in neck, knees and hocks. I wouldn’t have changed him for the world but it’s been an experience 🙈

Biddie191 · 30/08/2023 14:31

From experience, there's a bit of difference between a TB who was trained for steeplechasing, and one for flat racing. Flat horses are usually broken in before they turn 2 years old, tend to be 'sharper' as they're running over a shorter distance, and are more likely to have issues from being broken in so young (kissing spine, tendon and joint issues). Chasers (if bred for chasing, rather than flat horses who are kept on to go chasing) are usually left until 3 or 4 to be broken, so less issues with spine / back, and tend to be a bit more level headed (bred to go over 4 miles, so more stamina - sharp horses tend to not settle, so don't make the grade chasing) - also bred more with soundness in mind, as their careers can last much longer (flat horses as a rule only race as 2 and 3 year olds, then only the very good but not exceptional ones will go on another year or 2. The very best usually retire to stud, the less talented ones are sold / leave racing as 3 yo or go hurdling. Chasers will often continue to race until 10 - even into their teens). Chasers tend to have more bone, as the very fine flat horses wouldn't stand up to the rigours of jumping, but this isn't always the case. Injuries to chasers tends to be more tendons and ligaments. Chasers are, however, often stronger to ride, and as they're used to going miles at a gallop, you can't just 'wait until they get a bit tired' if they're getting a bit quick with you.
This is obviously a gross generalisation, there are exceptions to both.

Would I buy one for my 13 year old daughter? Hmm, it would really depend both on my daughter's riding ability, experience and temperament, and on the horse, and how well it's been reschooled. Some can be the very calmest, sweetest horses, easy going, easy to ride and trainable, where others can be very stubborn, quirky and real worriers.

That said, my 18 year old daughter has an ex-chaser who we had straight out of training. He was with a small trainer, who had him living out, so he's not as 'institutionalised' as some, and this trainer had given him a fairly varied life, including some show-jumping and schooling. He's not always easy, I've questioned my sanity a few times when he's done something particularly silly. He's not a great one in a stable (stressy) - especially if somewhere new, he can get quite quick and be hard to pull up, but he's a really lovely chap, tries really hard to please (although it takes a while for the penny to drop) and in just over a year she's managed to get him doing PC novice dressage and 90 SJ very nicely.

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