What's your view on training young Thoroughbreds for racing? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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What's your view on training young Thoroughbreds for racing?

This is most likely to become a "flame-thrower"'s thread, so please, no nasty comebacks !
What do you think about training young (two- to three- years old) Thoroughbreds for racing? In my personal opinion, they should be a bit more mature to handle the physical stress. So many accidents are with broken bones, and I hear about alot of OTTB's with bowed tendons from stress and strain.
Again, please, let's keep this friendly and kind to one another!

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post #2 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 08:05 PM
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Actually they are backed as yearlings or long yearlings, to be raced at 2.
I think it is disgusting and that they shouldn't be expected to run so young. I fully believe in leaving a horse to mature and not start it under saddle till 3; especially not for a high-impact, high-stress sport.

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post #3 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 08:14 PM
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Why do they start the horses so young? I honestly don't know enough about racing. What is the benefit of using the younger horse, vs waiting for one to grow up?
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post #4 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 08:19 PM
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I agree with you Sam. I think they start them so early because they are hyper when they are young, they can run, and then when they cant run, they can reproduce. I think they would run a lot faster if they were trained over a longer period of time, i see a lot retire out because they aren't 'fast' enough
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post #5 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 08:43 PM
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I think that Race Horses would be a lot heartier, and run a lot wiser (not faster) if they were allowed more time to mature both physically and mentally =) I think its awful that they break them to ride as yearlings... but i have to say i am probably more disgusted with the people who break "Big Lick" TWH as yearlings with the pads on their feet =/ I won't go further into that here, as i'd stray off topic =)

I kinda think that if we let them grow up more, we wouldnt see tragedies like Eight Belles, Barbaro, Ruffian, etc. Furthermore, im not sure if this was true or not.. but i heard that Steroids are "not illegal" in the Race Horse world. That kinda ticks me off (if its true)... so the people who choose to -not- drug their horse probably wont have a winning horse.. either its mandatory, or against the rules in my opinion.

And for those who say "But they LOVE to run!! Just look at Barbaro, he wanted to keep running to finish the race! What heart!" wrong. This is why i believe people are wrong when they say things along those lines.... Horses are prey animals. In the wild, they run in herds. When the herd runs, they run too. Its instinct. And when a member of the herd suddenly breaks his cannon bone and falls behind the pack... he is now the weakest in the herd, and if a predator approaches... chances are he will be killed. So he continues to run and run to try to stay within the safety of his herd. It has nothing to do with Courage, nor Heart... just basic Prey survival instincts. Who knows, maybe there was that one horse out there who got injured and really did run his heart out to try to please his jockey.. but i really doubt it (though i can never disprove it) because i think that the natural instinct outweighs any pride the horse may have. Plus, if i was a race horse, i wouldn't want to please the person who is beating me with a whip, lol!

And another statement i've seen posted about thoroughbreds: "They [thoroughbreds] love to run! So if you say its cruel to race them, you shouldn't allow them to go run and play with the other horses out in the field! Its the same thing!" No. Its really not. Running/turning/bucking/trotting at liberty for 5 minutes while bucking and nipping at other horses is not the same thing as when someone is on their back DEMANDING they run. The horse doesn't have the option to stop, he cant nip and play with the horses he is running with, he cant buck, nor spin and run the other way. He MUST run the circle. Counter-Clockwise. Always. No exceptions. And if he disagrees, just lay that crop into him. He'll get with the picture. So no, its not the same thing as running and playing with friends.

Please correct me if im wrong... but Seabiscuit had awful conformation, not-so-hot breeding, etc.. but wasn't he retired from racing at the age of Seven? (grantid, yes, he died of a heart attack or something like that at the age of Fourteen) but my point being the horses of the past were a heck of a lot heartier, even with bad conformation. :p So.. what has happened since Seabiscuits death in 1949(?) I think a lot of it has to do with people breeding these race horses to be at their peak in the first 5 years of their life. Any years after that is a bonus... especially if they are worthy to stand as stud.

So, all in all, to answer the original question.. I don't agree with breaking these horses to run so hard so young. I think its begging for disaster. But, a lot of the people i've met who breed/buy these race horses don't actually have horse ownership on the brain... just the pursuit of the all mighty dollar.

Im thankful that so many horses can make it off the track and into the hands of people who can give them the care that they so desperately deserve. But it saddens me that a lot of these horses go straight from the track to an auction, then to a slaughter house. It blows me away how in the course of a week, a $200,000 race horse living in a coosh stall with only the best food and care (as far as vet and farrier) to a double decker bus headed for Mexico. One day I hope to rescue one of these fellows and give them a chance to live as a captive horse should :)

I think thats it for now :p My opinions in this post reflect my personal encounters with Thoroughbreds, as well as just watching Races on TV/YouTube and talking with Race Horse Owners back when I worked at a Race Horse Barn in Camden. I meant no offense by any of it, and it is my opinion, so it isnt really right or wrong :p

-Skippy! The Wonder Horse!
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post #6 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by wanderlust View Post
Why do they start the horses so young? I honestly don't know enough about racing. What is the benefit of using the younger horse, vs waiting for one to grow up?
Many people (and not just TB owners...think QH reining futurities) think, "Why feed a horse for 4 years with it doing/working/earning zero $...when I can break it when its a yearling...have it competing when its 2...sell it when its 3...off my feed bill...$$...in my pocket."

It's pretty tragic. My equine chiro works on race horses all the time...and half the trainers admit that the horses would be healthier, happier, longer-lived if they started when they were 3 or 4...but that doesn't make owners money.-(
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post #7 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 09:23 PM
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Racehorses have become disposable. It doesn't run fast enough? Sell it, get another. Breaks down? Sell it, get another.
It makes me sick. If we could make the breeders be accountable for their stock, perhaps we could get somewhere.

Denny is almost 8 and off the track. When I got a PPE on him, the vet said that he had the cleanest legs for being on the track for 5 years; but he did recommend Legend in the next few years :P

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post #8 of 50 Old 04-03-2009, 09:43 PM
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They race them so young because it is a buissiness. It costs something around 25,000 a year per horse for training. You don't want a dud. So instead of waiting for the horse to mature, they race them young in order to weed out slow horses/horses that don't want to run, whatever.

I am going to be honest. I grew up on the track (Standardbreds) and I love horses. I honestly think there are horses that love to run just like there are horses that love to jump, run barrels, whatever. I think the herd mentality that Skippy! mentioned, plays a big part, but there are horses out there who enjoy doing their job more. Would they rather be a pasture puff? Probably. But some horses do love their job. Does that mean they should be allowed to do it when they are 2? Of course not.

Thoroughbred breeding has gone downhill. We are sacrificing stability and long-term soundness. So TBs are becoming more and more "fragile". They are lighter, have less bone mass (Can't think of the word I am looking for here) and conformational faults that should NOT be passed on, are if the stud/dam was a winner.

I think there is a lot that needs to be done in the race horse industry. I know a few tracks are cracking down on breeders/trainers who dump broken down TBs at kill pens. I think this is a step in the next direction.

I think the Jockey Club should try and encourage breeding for soundness and the longevity of the breed. I also think they should get babies off of the track.

The first horse I ever bought was an OTTB gelding. We looked at his track record, and he was placing every race. Suddenly, he wasn't entered in any races for 6 months and then came back placing poorly. The PPE showed a slab fracture. He wasn't right for what I wanted to do, so I had to take him back. I've always wondered what happened to that horse (I was in like the 8th grade at the time, so there wasn't much I could do).
There's only so much you can do with a TB gelding with a fracture in his leg. Apparently he got retired somewhere.
(-End random off topic rambling-)
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post #9 of 50 Old 04-04-2009, 12:12 AM
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They do it because thats what horse fans and people want. People complain about it but spend millions betting on them and watching them on TV. Every time you spend a dollar or watch them on TV your supporting the system.
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post #10 of 50 Old 04-04-2009, 05:00 AM
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Actually the sport of racing was started in England? (i can't remember what country right now cuz it's so late so correct me if I am wrong) but the reason they start them so young is because at that age with hardly any real training, it was a true guess at who would win. Basically the tradition has not changed. By the age of 4-5 years old, trainers and owners would beable to tell if the horse would be a winner or not so the competition would change and it would not be as much of a guessing game. They were making it a true gamble of which horse would win.
Believe me I am against it whole heartedly but I watched a learning channel special many years ago and this is what they had said about race horses and why they raced at such a young age. It was truely just because know one had any idea who would win.
I have a OTTB and boarded for a long time at a rest and relaxation barn for track horses. So I saw 1st hand how hard it was on most of these babies.

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