Racing at such a young age - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 94 Old 05-16-2011, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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Racing at such a young age

I'm doing a report for english on why race horses should be raced at a older age. So I had some questions..

1. What exactly happens to young horses when raced young? (leg problems, temperment ect.)

2. Why do they race so young?

And any5thing else!
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post #2 of 94 Old 05-16-2011, 09:36 AM
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The temperament issues that come with OTTBs don't seem to be age related to me. I mean, I don't see a significant difference in late starters compared to early starters. Skeletal problems and muscular problems from having under-developed bodies for such extreme conditions is a big factor. You can also have other problems depending on how the horse has been fed etc.

In terms of why they are raced so young, that is easy. Money. An extra year of keep is a lot of money, with no return.

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post #3 of 94 Old 05-16-2011, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks(: it's sad that it's all about money and not the horses health though:(
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post #4 of 94 Old 05-16-2011, 04:02 PM
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It isn't cheap to keep a racehorse though. That is why it is the "Sport of Kings".

Stud fee's can be a large price if you want to breed to something that has a excellent pedigree, along with a good race record. The better his foals do when they get to the point of racing means his stud fee can increase. A $5000 stud fee is not unheard of, if not more...such as Camluck for $12,500 CDN and Bettors Delight for $14,000 US. Somebeachsomewhere has a fee of $20,000 US. Then you have to care for the mare while she is carrying a foal, plus for the first 6 months of the foals life. There are registration fee's and if the horse is well bred enough, nomination fee's to larger races with bigger purses.

After the baby is weaned, you still have his care to pay for during the next two years, and then a trainer to pay for if you are not starting him yourself. So by the time the baby starts racing, he could have had over $30,000 invested in him at least!

Horse racing is about the money because it is expensive to start with. It is also heart breaking to have all the money you make to be invested into a horse that turns out to not be worth anything at all.

Most breeders in the racing industry will try and have their foals as close to January first as possible so that by the time that they are 2, they really are 2...and not up against "older" horses that were born earlier that year. A few months can make a huge difference in the maturity level and ability to race in a horse.

Race horses can have a lengthy career even if they were started at a young age. It is not about racing them early, but it is about how they are cared for before and after each race.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #5 of 94 Old 05-21-2011, 03:42 PM
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1. I personally think they learn odd habits when they're raced. My mom's old horse named 'Real High' was a race horse until the age of 8 and we couldn't use a bit with him because he got excited and would gnaw on it-even walking down the road he would mess with the bit and get all worked up over nothing..and he was 18 when he got him!

Also, If you have seen the heart breaking stories of Barbaro and EightBelles racehorses have suffered fatal injuries or injuries that make them lame,or pasture horses for the rest of their lives(tendon injuries,knee problems etc). Racing seems like a beautiful sport...but it's sad to see what happpens behind the scenes..:(

2. I'm guessing most horses are raced young because, like Chiilaa and VelvetsAB said, it's because of the money and possibly because young horses are able to get pushed more than older horses are. They could also be high-strung or have a lot of energy that makes them a good racer.

I hope this helps :)

"Even the greenest horse has something to teach the greatest rider."-Anonymous
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post #6 of 94 Old 05-29-2011, 10:58 PM
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Money plain and simple. Racehorses are in investment.

I have 2 OTTB Thoroughbred mares that I'm retraining from off the track.
Actually they are on pasture rest for another few months while I put the weight back on them and let the track meds gradually work their way out of the mares systems.
I've spoken pretty extensivly to Thouroughbred folks about why they race them so young and everyone has told me the same thing. MONEY. Most of the big time horse races are for 3 year olds. The Kentucky derby, Preakness and Belmont are all 3 year old races unless I'm mistaken. The trainers and breeders I've spoken with say that horse racing is so expensive that they want to get $$ back from their investment asap. And believe you me they see these young horses as investment first animal 2nd. When y ou figure in stud fees of 5000. To 200,000. Plus care for the mare for almost a year plus care feeding and training of a foal, plus fees to keep a horse at the track can range from 60. To 150. EVERY DAY it's easy to see why they start them early. Way too early IMO.
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post #7 of 94 Old 05-29-2011, 11:20 PM
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Unfortunatly, it is mainly about the money.

I was planning on getting into racing with a friend of mine. She was into the riding/ training, I was into the breeding/ raising. We idealized that we could work our horses more natural. I really liked a book by Janet Del Castillo called Backyard Racehorse Home We were planning on following some of her methods but going even more natural. None of our foals were going to be started until well into the summer of thier second year, natual barefoot, lots of pasture time, etc...

Sadly, my friend found she couldn't break away from her current life and chase her dream so as I had already purchased the farm I decided to take a different direction. I really didn't want to just get into the breeding and have no clue where my babies would end up and the training part didn't interest me.

I do not want to see racing end but I would love to see some changes for the benefit of the horses.
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post #8 of 94 Old 05-30-2011, 12:01 AM
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As far as the anything else part of your question (as the rest has been answered) the only horses I have owned lately have been OTTB (off the track thoroughbreds). There are so many of them, and they are cheap, plus they have so much athletic potential.
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post #9 of 94 Old 09-06-2011, 10:39 PM
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Futurity and Derby races (racing 2 year olds and 3 year olds) is not the old sport of kings. It is absolutely about money and was created for that. Futurity, from the word "future", but the purpose applies to both.

Originally the sport of racing was the sport of kings because a horse had finished growing before they started racing them (usually over 5 years old). Races were miles long. Up to 4 miles, but that was not a problem for a fully developed horse. There's a lot of money laid out to breed and keep a horse for over 5 years to race and find out if it was a winner.

Solution. Race them younger. Money can start being made on them in 2-3 years.
On a physical level these young horses are still developing. They are young children when they start and still children when their career ends (even if they are one of the few that makes it to 4). They start training hard at about 18 months. At 2-3 years they racing. And yet their joints are still trying to develope as they take a daily pounding either in training or in a race. The vast majority of them break down. Many are destroyed. Almost none have ever reached what would have been their true potential as a racing adult. And I haven't even started on the drugging and torturous life these horses are often subjected to. All in the race to make more money.

Compared them to other horses bred and intended to race, but usually by responcible breeders and owner/riders who have the horses well being at heart. This horse begins its training under the saddle around 3-4 years of age. It's built up slowling with easy, low stress exercises. After 4 years of age it's leg joints are firming up and are finsihing their growth. At some point around 5 years their back has finished firming up. Since they've been worked with in a slow steady progression that has put no undue stress on their developing they are soon ready to race. They might need to build up more, depending on their training, but the point is they are ready. These horses over 60 months old race in the true champion of horse racing. The endurance race. Some ultimately race in races like the Tevis Cup. 100 miles long where the average winners runs it in under 11 hours. These horses have a much rarer instance of breakdown and being put down even though they compete in much larger races. Some of them lasting several days.

If you want read one of the many true tragedies of a horse who had unbelievable potential, only to have racing cut it's life short. Look up the story of the mare, Ruffian.
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post #10 of 94 Old 09-07-2011, 02:46 PM
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TOTALLY about money. How many of us have owned an OTTB or know somebody who has one? I have a friend who is rehabilitating a 4 yo OTTB mare. Her history? She won $14k, then had an injury, was thrown out in a field to fend for herself, then SHE got the horse as a rescue. Super skinny, bad hooves--they shave them into a cup you know for racing!!!--loves to be handled and brushed, I understand, but won't be any kind of a riding horse for months.
I won't even go into the bad inbreeding...
It's just terrible that they are raced the hardest while teenagers, that is, 3 yo's. (Understand this like we think of a dog's life as 7 yo/every year of age, you see.)

Last edited by Corporal; 09-07-2011 at 02:49 PM.
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