Ex Racehorses- The Reality
The Thoroughbred horse was developed in England where it was bred for racing and exported across the world. Thoroughbred horses are so inbred that the pedigree of every horse can be traced back to one of three stallions, Byerley Turk (1680-1696), Darley Arabian (1700-1733) and the Godolphin Arabian (1724-1753), and these are known as the “Foundation sires”. The Introduction to the General Stud Book was published in 1791 recording the pedigree of every Thoroughbred horse and since 1793 Weatherby have recorded the pedigree of every foal born to thoroughbred race horses in the General Stud Book. From the early 1800s the only horses that could be called Thoroughbreds” and allowed to race professionally are those listed in the General Stud Book.
Lets start with some of the fine examples of ex racers that have excelled in another disciplin:
1998 World Champion with ex-racer Ready Teddy – Eventing – Blyth Tait
Java Tiger the very famous TB stallion was an ex-racer. He was the leading British sire for dressage horses . He also sired top event horses
Gosh raced as Taj Mahal-won the ROR at HOYS and won Show Hack classes up and down the country.
Sea Lord was an ex-racehorse Thoroughbred who became a Grand Prix dressage horse – Silva Martin
Galley light – Ben Way 4* event horse
Gold Nugget – Andrew Downes 3*event horse
with many more success stories on the ROR website
I have worked with racehorses and ex racehorses for many years now and I am amazed how people de-value these horses still and give them a bad name!
The fact is these horses are the easiest horses to work with!. They are highly trainable and intelligent. Unfortunately they come out of racing for a variety of reasons from being too slow, syndicate fell through they don’t enjoy the job to having a injury.
The problems start here!! These horses have rarely been difficult or unruly at the racing yards and have been rode by a variety of riders. The first thing that often happens is that owners/trainers advertise them straight on to Facebook for little to no money so all those who can’t afford a horse that may actually be more suited to their ability can afford these cheap horses.
Then the lack of knowledge and ability come in to play as the ex racer may work out it can misbehave to avoid work, it may have ill fitting tack, it may as the case is often be over fed and under worked. This horses then becomes unruly a handful or sometimes dangerous! Now what isn’t seen is that often many horses in the same inexperienced hands will go exactly the same way!!!
Ex racers need specialist re-training and I do honestly think that they should go to reputable re-trainers, experienced professional riders and charities first and foremost to be assessed and the owners and trainers need to take some responsibility for this and pay these guys for a least one month rehab work as well as signing the horse over to them or pay for it to be retrained and sold on their behalf! This is not happening at the moment and in fact a lot are charging the retainers for them. The owners and breeders may see what they are sold for at a later date but do they realise how much time effort and cost has gone into the horse to get it to that point.
You may be surprised to learn that many of us re-trainers are not funded and get no help from charities/owners/trainers or the ROR. We do this because we love the thoroughbred and see their value out of racing though it is a very lengthy process.
It was only the other day I advertised one for sale and someone commented stating that I would be lucky to get half of what I was asking for! Now it costs a lot of money to re train and keep these horses to provide the training they need so that they can be sold on to the correct home and have the best chance of a future.
In regards to worrying about the legs of the ex-racers I have seen many young horses free jumped over ridiculous size fences as 2/3yo and watched many a young horse galloping flat out around the field. The simple answer is to get an x-ray! I will tell you though i have seen many a horse which are not ex racers not have clean x-rays but least you will have more of an idea. These thoroughbreds are more hardy than they have been given credit for.
These horses are a pleasure to deal with they thrive best in a routine and regular work – oh no wait – thats every horse!!
You will find they tend to be much bolder and less spooky than many horses seen as they have been out and about since being young!!
Now next time you see an ex racehorse perhaps you should go look and give it a chance! I was converted years ago to thoroughbreds and honestly find other breeds much more difficult especially if they need retraining for one reason or another. The next thing is the price that is being asked will be not based on the fact it is an ex racer hence its been retrained it will be priced according to its ability is a new chosen career!! If you are picking them up retrained for £1500 then i can guarantee they have not been on that yard for very long and certainly not put into another disciplin. I mean just think what a horse costs you over a month in feed, bedding, shoes, stable, tack, rugs , vaccinations and dentist – a retired racehorse costs around £4000 a year to look after so what will one cost in a year that can be re-trained! Especially if you add up entry fees, travel costs and registration costs!
They excel in eventing , dressage , endurance and make superb all rounders they can be careful enough to show-jump though that takes a very careful horse of any breed!
Please make sure you are purchasing ex racers off someone on the ROR retrainers list they will have been assessed with yard visits and are recommended by other professionals! This will ensure you find the best horse for your needs and it will give you the best opportunity of having a fantastic relationship with your new horse.
Another rider of ex racehorses made a valid point in stating that perhaps we should be also be assessing and approving the buyers and only sell to approved riders as quite rightly stated its no good re-trainers doing the work only for the correct work not to be continued.
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