Adopting and Ex Race Horse
I'm thinking of adoptintg a 20 year old ex-race horse and am looking for some outside advice. This would be my first horse and I'm only interested in pleasure riding. I've spent alot of time around this horse and think he's really sweet and calm. His riding career ended at 7 or 8 and has been between many people since then. Really can't trace all the previous use and ownership because he's also a rescue horse. What is the best way to tell if he's right for me and what is the normal duration of riding an ex-race horse at this age. The rescue was about three months ago and he was ridden for the first time by the rescue org. about 1 week ago. Everything went well and there's no lameness detected at this point.
I would seriously think about this prior to making your choice.
There have been many debates on here about OTTB (Of the track thoroughbreds ie. ex-racehorses) and their suitability to a range of riders.
You're going to run into a few problems, firstly that you don't know his history. Its one thing buying a schoolmasters OTTB but another buying a horse that you don't know much about, and, when in serious work, may have training or behavioural issues.
A second, and to me almost more serious problem, is going to be health related. OTTBs, in my experience, don't last as long as other breeds. I've known many who needed to be put down or retired in their early 20s where as other breeds have gone on strong. I wouldn't buy a 20 year old, although there can be many advantages to buying a older, been there done that schoolmaster, and I would not even consider owning a 20 year old OTTB. Besides lameness problems that can pop up especially with more regular work, they also tend to take a lot more in feed and need a fair amount of rugging. This upkeep isn't going to ever get easier, and the horse is going to be near impossible to sell.
I wouldn't recommend a TB as a suitable first horse, although that point is debatable, but a 20 year old rescue OTTB for a first horse...I don't think its a good idea.
It's a buyers market, you'll find something much more suitable around.
Thanks for the good advice. I keep hearing alot of comments similar to yours.
I'd pass if I were you.. I recently got an OTTB mare who also raced until she was seven, the difference being that she is ten now.
When talking to the vet about it, she said that most OTTBs with similar racing injuries were usually sound into their 20s if they had the proper supplements and treatments.
I'd pass, too. 20 years old, and you don't know anything about his history. Are you prepared to retire him if he can't be ridden, and keep paying board and health bills on an animal that may live another 10 years?
I have a 26 y/o Arab that I got when he was 19, and had to be retired at 20 because of health issues. He's an expensive pasture pet, and the only reason I can afford to keep him is because I have my own place.
I also have an 8 y/o TB I got when he was 5 and just off the track. I expect to ride him many more years, but he certainly requires more care and food than my 2 Arabs put together. If I had gotten him as a first horse instead of being my sixth, I don't know how well I would have been prepared to deal with him.
I think older and experienced is better for a first time owner, but I'd be looking in the 12 to 15 y/o range. A 20 y/o ex-racer isn't your best bet if you're wanting to actually ride and not just have a pasture puff.
I agree with the others about an OTTB, especially that he's had a number of owners. If he was truly a rescue, as in apprehended by animal control or humane society, he was thin and therefore presented no riding issues. Once these horses are back up to weight he may have bouts where he thinks he's back at the track. This is much harder to get out the a horse that raced even until 5 than a two year old that was too slow. I've seen it happen even after several years of schooling by upper level riders.
I want to thank everyone for all their wonderful insite. I was afraid this would be the response, but it's for the better that I have people who are much more knowledgeable than I to help me understand whats right and whats not a good ideal.
It's definitely important to get outside insight prior to buying a horse, even though I'm probably not the poster child for that. Although luckily, I have my trainer to help me and after riding for almost eight years, I've learned what I can and can't handle. The first few rides on her, I was almost to the point of regretting it, but after we got accustomed to each other and I realized what type of training and what life she had up until that point, I developed a bigger appreciation and understanding for her.. and now there's no place I'd rather be than at the barn!
Just remember to get a vet check on whatever horse you end up being interested in, and really research the pros and cons of whatever issues are brought to light. :-) It'll be worth the wait once you find that perfect horse.
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