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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!
Wasn't sure where to post this so feel free to move it :oops:

Bascially, today I was looking at some OTTB rescue/adoption centres and the reality of the racing industry hit me.

I was brought up in the UAE. Racing is a huge sport, but you very rarely see the 'behind the scenes' of the industry- very few ex racehorses for sale etc. So when people talk about the racing industry really throwing out thousands of horses a year, I've always had a "Surely it can't be that bad" attitude.

Anyways, to the point- looking at some of these rescues- young horses, born 2008/2009, many of them winners- $100,000+ usd. Being adopted out for prices between 200 and 500 usd.

What.

What's worse is that many of these horses are so nice- apart from a few with long pasterns, most of them had pretty fab confo in my opinion. Several that I would've liked to snap up.

It's so strange for me to see.. Because here we have unproven youngsters (for dressage/jumping) born as late as 2010 going for over $100,000. You basically don't get horses under 10,000 here.


So if anyone could shed any light on the situation I'd be very grateful- is there an obvious issue I'm missing? Do they not stay sound? Is there something I'm missing that's causing their low prices, or is it just a supply and demand situation?

Okay, done now:oops:
 

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I'm currently in Qatar (Originally European, moved here due to job), and I know what you mean, so I'll stay here & see what people say.

Also, the cheapest a horse goes for here is 50,000QAR, which is.. about $13,000. And the horse I saw that cost that much was for light riding only due to a hip surgery.
 

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In the United States a lot of those horses have soft tissue issues that will/could limit their use as race horses or even jumpers/dressage horses. Things like suspensory desmitis and other issues. A lot of them just flat out can't make it at the track. Some of these horses need significant retraining due to poor ground manners. Horse handling on the track is different than horse handling at a back yard or even a hunter/jumper barn.

The US racing industry is funny because a some (not all horses but some) have a platinum credit card from the time of birth till around a year and half two years of age. No matter the cost of care/treatment it will be done for them. The reach racing age and if they don't make money they are not worth keeping. Which results in them being sold. When the decision to sell them is made the important thing is that they are sold fast. Which means a portion (again not all, but many) are sent to slaughter. Which is where many rescues pick them up.
 

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In the United States a lot of those horses have soft tissue issues that will/could limit their use as race horses or even jumpers/dressage horses. Things like suspensory desmitis and other issues. A lot of them just flat out can't make it at the track. Some of these horses need significant retraining due to poor ground manners. Horse handling on the track is different than horse handling at a back yard or even a hunter/jumper barn.

The US racing industry is funny because a some (not all horses but some) have a platinum credit card from the time of birth till around a year and half two years of age. No matter the cost of care/treatment it will be done for them. The reach racing age and if they don't make money they are not worth keeping. Which results in them being sold. When the decision to sell them is made the important thing is that they are sold fast. Which means a portion (again not all, but many) are sent to slaughter. Which is where many rescues pick them up.
This. It's always a crapshoot when you're buying a well-bred, unproven dressage horse, but you're not buying an animal off the track. First, the parents have theoretically been WELL proven as performance horses in the dressage world, as well as the siblings. You're not buying a horse that was bred for a completely different sport. I'm not at all saying that OTTBs can't be absolutely fantastic in dressage/eventing/hj/etc, but that's not what they were bred for.

It's also not unlikely that a given horse off the track has suffered some kind of injury that would make its future as a performance horse iffy. With proper choosing and vetting you can limit that likelihood. Then, assuming that you have a well conformed, sound horse, you have a fair amount of retraining ahead of you. You may be having to correct behavioral problems that have developed both on the ground and under saddle, instead of starting with a fresh clean slate.

On that hand, it makes sense to me. When you buy a dressage/jumping youngster from proven breeding stock for bit $$$, you have more of a guarantee of what you will get. When you buy an OTTB, you're taking more of a risk and will likely have to put more effort into retraining the horse. Because of that, you can get a pretty darn good deal on a wonderful horse if you're willing to put the time and a certain amount of money into training and improving him! I think it's very sad how so many big winners that were so doted on in their younger days get cast aside, and I admire those that are willing to put forth the effort in helping them realize their potential!
 

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OTTBs often come with baggage. They're often terrible with any kind of ground manners - being started racing at 2 you don't have much time to teach ground manners at all - and very disrespectful. They're very hot horses right off the track. They can come with soundness issues from being started and raced so young, and if they don't show it now it's always a risk. They will likely need to be retrained. A lot of them rear under saddle, at least on the track, when loading into the starting gate (I don't know how this affects later training, just throwing it out there).

It's a sad state of affairs, but a lot of OTTBs get thrown away because they can't make money. It's the mentality of a lot of people, and I see it VERY often at the track I work at - once a horse goes from making money to costing money it's not worth keeping anymore, and the horse gets put down or dumped.

With an unproven dressage horse, you're paying for breeding. You're paying for the breed of the horse. Yeah it's unproven but it likely won't need retraining, won't come with potential soundness issues, etc. You know what you're getting. Not a lot of people want to grab an OTTB right off the track, it's a pretty big risk and it takes some serious dedication - and if demand isn't high, price can't be high either. It's MUCH easier to start with a blank slate horse than to have to re-train nasty habits and poor training out of a horse.
 

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I have had dozens (literally) of off-track horses. Some for retraining and resale, some for breeding, and so on. I have NEVER encountered an off-track horse with bad ground manners!! In fact, I would say the ground manners are MUCH superior to a horse that has come from a typical home-based operation. The OTTB's are acclimated to pretty much everything, in my experience, and are generally very respectful when being handled on the ground.

I've also not encountered the "hot" issue, and I've gotten several stallions directly off the track. While they need to be acclimated to a more typical turnout situation, I wouldn't call any of them "hot".
 

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I think that the level of ground manners you will find varies greatly between horses and the trainers/handlers that they had while on the track. I've met a few that were really chill, quiet horses, and some that were complete nut jobs. I worked with one at my barn over the summer that was pretty quiet under saddle, but had major problems with being bridles, or having his ears touched in general. I ended up discontinuing my work with him because he seemed a bit off, and o didnt want to push anything when his owner didnt want to get him checked by the vet. A friend had one for a short period of time, and that horse was a personal space nightmare on the ground, and a disaster waiting to happen under saddle. Both of these horses could have had their issues worked with with time and dedication, but they need an owner that is willing to do it.
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I have had dozens (literally) of off-track horses. Some for retraining and resale, some for breeding, and so on. I have NEVER encountered an off-track horse with bad ground manners!! In fact, I would say the ground manners are MUCH superior to a horse that has come from a typical home-based operation. The OTTB's are acclimated to pretty much everything, in my experience, and are generally very respectful when being handled on the ground.

I've also not encountered the "hot" issue, and I've gotten several stallions directly off the track. While they need to be acclimated to a more typical turnout situation, I wouldn't call any of them "hot".
Wow, color me impressed! At the track I work, the horses are TERRIBLE on the ground and have stud chains on if they're being handled because if they don't they walk all over whoever has them. Sometimes literally. They shove people over, they bare teeth and pin ears, they buck and generally throw fits in hand, they rear... It's a bad state of affairs. There has been a few of them, actually, who have been dumped specifically because of this (They're 'too dangerous' on the ground). One of my coworkers took in a few of them and gave them a few months off, and then had to completely start over with them - spent a good month on just ground manners because they had such nasty habits and were total freaks under saddle; all they wanted to do was run, run, run.

You must have a sense for calm OTTBs ;)
 

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I have NEVER encountered an off-track horse with bad ground manners!!
I have. Some come with good ground manners, and some have horrendous ones. One that came off this last year, and is boarding for the winter with the BO, pulls you all over if you lead without a chain, doesn't tie, is horrid with his feet, and is super reactive to work around. He bites, and will kick, and he has no notion of respect. That said, MOST have at least decent manners, but it really depends on the trainer, and how much they love the horses.

I've also not encountered the "hot" issue
I have. I find them in general to be a hot breed. they react far more quickly and more often than most non hot blooded horses. However, by the time they are three they have most often seen more "scary" things and been ridden more miles than many pleasure horses see in their life times. Race horses are typically very familiar with tractors, various other vehicles, large groups of people, large groups of horses, cramped spaces, being trailered, noise from load speakers, etc. This 'desensitizing' is a big asset when it comes to retraining them. The odd one is quiet, but I find most to be pretty zippy.


while they may need to be retrained in some ways to be a saddle horse, in general they are familiar with carrying a rider at all gaits, being handled daily, wraps, blankets, being bridled and all the things mentioned above. A lot of the basic desensitizing and training have been done.

any how, I guess it does come down to the fact that so many are injured, plus a hot blooded horse is not for every one. One of the main issues though is the way the whole industry is set up. While they are racing they're worth crazy amounts of money, as soon as they quit racing they are worth nothing. we have a couple on the farm that were claimed for $12-20,000 this summer, and the owner is paying to board them over the winter so they can race them next year. Within the next 1-2 years these horses will be discarded for next to nothing, when their careers are over.. Thousands upon thousands of these horses are produced to feed into the racing injury, and most of them come out the other end like so much garbage. Few, in the grand scheme of things, are retained for breeding, most are just disposed of as quickly as possible. There are hundreds upon hundreds of horses that are 100% sound, sane, and well built that end up slaughtered.
 

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I've met quite a few OTTB's that have done quite well after racing. But a lot of them when being led were pretty "hot", kind of dancing around, prancing a bit, always needed a tight hold on the lead rope, but after a bit of training, settled down. I have yet to meet a OTTB that continued to have bad habits after a few months of retraining.

As others have said, here in the US, race horses are a dime a dozen, a lot of them "retired" from racing due to injuries, which limits their future usefulness. You don't get a guarantee that something racing related won't crop up later, or that their current injury will heal and they'll be sound. The rescues aren't selling for profit, and a lot of the horses get the minimal amount of training, as the rescue is just that, a rescue, not a training program, so the horses being rehomed are priced very cheap. They can definitely do well after racing, but it's not a guarantee that they'll excel in a given discipline, so "sellers" or rescues can't advertise them as being great jumping horses, or dressage horses, based on bloodlines, and the price reflects that. I like what rookie said, the racehorses from time of birth til their 2 year old year are paid for no matter what, but if they fail at the track, the owners immediately stop putting all that money into them, and want them gone fast. That being said, there are plenty of owners out there that do really care, and do try their best to get the horses a good home, but the sheer number of horses means that a fair number of them are from operations that DON'T care, and just want losing horses gone. Thankfully we have several programs specifically for the rehoming of ex race horses, who are in direct contact with owners and trainers to help find horses new homes as fast as possible without sending them to slaughter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone for your input.

I realize that they're not proper 'prospects' for a specific sport, and despite their youth they've probably been through a lot more than most horses twice their age.

I'm still astounded at the sheer amount of money though- from winning over $100,000 usd to being adopted out at 200.
It's just crazy to me, not to mention sad.

I'd love to adopt a few some day; wether to keep as my own or just to re-train.
 

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Just something to add - a friend of mine recently purchased an OTTB. Here in Arkansas, we are limited on our OTTB rescue options, unless you want to rescue from Hot Springs.

The horse she adopted is a 4 y/o mare with 6 starts. Didn't really win anything. Her adoption fee was $400, but, because of her location, shipping was close to $1,000. So, just keep that in mind. There are not rescues in every state, and not all rescues will have the perfect match for an indivudual. People search the country for the right OTTB, and the price of shipping alone can be staggering. With SO many OTTB's on the market, prices must be low to keep in competition, and to keep horses moving from training to adoption at a steady pace.

I would hope that adoption agencies are more geared to helping horses find a good home, rather than looking for big payouts and profits.
 

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Just something to add - a friend of mine recently purchased an OTTB. Here in Arkansas, we are limited on our OTTB rescue options, unless you want to rescue from Hot Springs.

The horse she adopted is a 4 y/o mare with 6 starts. Didn't really win anything. Her adoption fee was $400, but, because of her location, shipping was close to $1,000. So, just keep that in mind. There are not rescues in every state, and not all rescues will have the perfect match for an indivudual. People search the country for the right OTTB, and the price of shipping alone can be staggering. With SO many OTTB's on the market, prices must be low to keep in competition, and to keep horses moving from training to adoption at a steady pace.

I would hope that adoption agencies are more geared to helping horses find a good home, rather than looking for big payouts and profits.
You don't necessarily have to go through a rescue to find an OTTB, but your chances of finding one that suits your needs are probably greater that way. A lot of folks that I know of found theirs through word of mouth, and from people that have personally pulled the horses from the track. There's a fair amount of racing that goes on not too far from me, though, so I may be a bit biased in how easy they are to come by in a given area.
 

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Where I am you can adopt an OTTB from Suffolk Downs (I believe!) for $1. Literally $1. I have had friends that did it, and the horses turn out fine.

If you are overseas I have seen people ship horses over for around $4,000. If you really want to take a risk and sign up for a huge project, buy one for $1 and ship it over. Your $4,001 horse is still cheaper than the $10,000 horses there...
 

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Bob, it seems you are posting from Sweden? Is there much of a race industry there? If so, are many of their horses recycled into the riding market?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Haha I don't need a horse now.

I've recently moved back to Sweden from the UAE- I lived there for 11 years. If i'll be getting a horse anytime soon it will be if I somehow manage to make enough money to send B over here (and then manage to have enough money to keep him at a good facility)- until I get myself settled and able financially, he's staying with my parents in Dubai.

I actually don't know much about horsiness in general here, because I've only lived here for 6 months, and much of those have been spent doing things to get my life on track here- finding an apartment, getting settled in uni, getting my drivers license etc.
However, I would guess that there would be more ex harness racers here, as it (trot? We just call it trot here :lol: ) is much more common than flat racing.

"For comparison the number of Swedish gallop horse racing tracks only is three. And one of them, Jägersro is a combined trot and gallop race arena. Another is only used once every year. So the number of "pure" gallop race arenas is only one in Sweden, Täby" Harness racing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My looking at rescues in the US is basically dream based coveting. I'd love to adopt and train and what not.. But with the cost and stress of shipping, its not really plausible at the time.

A girl can dream though :oops:
 

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Some horses may be up for adoption due to injury: others are just not competitive enough. A horse that doesn't win is just eating up resources and money from its owner, and so you can get them for super cheap.
 

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I have had dozens (literally) of off-track horses. Some for retraining and resale, some for breeding, and so on. I have NEVER encountered an off-track horse with bad ground manners!! In fact, I would say the ground manners are MUCH superior to a horse that has come from a typical home-based operation. The OTTB's are acclimated to pretty much everything, in my experience, and are generally very respectful when being handled on the ground.

I've also not encountered the "hot" issue, and I've gotten several stallions directly off the track. While they need to be acclimated to a more typical turnout situation, I wouldn't call any of them "hot".
I'm sorry but I find to very hard to believe. You've never encountered a hot OTTB?
 

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For what is worth, a lot of great trotters (they can pace as well) are fantastic riding horses. In fact the only horse to win two olympic gold medals (individual and team) was a standardbred (trotter). If you want to help a race horse out you don't have to limit yourself to TB. In addition, many standardbreds don't even get run through the auction ring. They just get sold by the pen to slaughter houses at the auction. The TBs at least have a chance to be taken in by a rescue or a home because they get seen in the center ring. The standardbreds its Amish (who just go right to the track) or meat wagon. The only saving grace is that many folks who breed them will take them and try to find them individual placements after they are done racing.
 

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In the US, we breed many horses from bloodlines KNOWN to have leg issues or temperment problems because a FEW will win big before they break down or burn out. We race too-young horses because they are faster sprinters. The money made on betting is a powerful force, and the horses pay the price.
 
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