I never forget that once I rode a rejected ex race horse which a friend of mine had brought cheaply at the sales. She was a beautiful horse who had been trained early in her life to run fast amongst a group of other similarly trained animals. My friend asked me to ride the animal on a public path which had a 3ft high wood and wire fence as a boundary.
I mounted close up by the fence and turned along it at the walk.
Then I made a mistake by tucking my calves against the horse's flanks at which point we instantly took off. We went from a calm walk to an extended gallop.
I tried slowing the animal down but the horse wasn't listening - it was doing what it had been bred for - racing. Somehow I stayed on. Then in the distance I espied a woman walking her dog along the path by the fence. She was a long way away, but she was getting closer by the minute.
Then I saw the dog lead between the woman and her pooch.
I realised suddenly that I had a problem. The horse was full going full speed ahead. I started to panic. I called out. The woman ignored my call, so I called again. We were running out of path. Somehow the woman suddenly heard what was by then a plaintiff cry. She moved over, pulling the dog with her but Oh it was only just in time.
The horse eventually slowed. Finally it came to a halt by which time it was breathing hard and her neck was steaming wet, almost white, with sweat.
Me, well I was shaking like a leaf. My so called 'friend' was almost choking as she laughed.
In the racing world horses are led to the starting gate by a handler. The jockey is perched up on a tiny saddle, not much bigger than a man's cap. He doesn't sit astride the horse he perches on it. Horse and rider do everything at the gallop.
A horse race is in reality a charge at top speed. And horses have a long memory.
Thorobreds can make excellent competition horses but my advice is that you buy your chosen steed from a breeder before it has been schooled to run and not cheaply off a racing yard as a failed racer.
PS If you do ever climb aboard a TB , then keep your legs off its flanks.