More and more recently we have seen the demand for retired or off the track (OTT) racehorses increase significantly. Their athletic ability, intelligence and versatility have made them well sort after as performance and pleasure horses. Riders are not only receiving a fantastic performance horse but they are also helping give them a second career after their racetrack career ends.
Whether you are thinking of adopting a racehorse that has just recently been retired or one that is already established there are a things to take into consideration.
- Patience is a virtue, all horses are different, some may take on their new careers relatively smoothly while some may take that little bit longer. It can be a good idea to look into your horses history, and if possible talk to their previous trainer to see what type of methods they respond to best.
- Be aware of your own abilities and experience. Many ex racehorses can be fidgety and nervous to begin with whilst they adjust to their new lifestyle. Do not be afraid to ask an experienced coach or re-trainer to help you.
- Give the horse time to adjust to new riding techniques and gear, introduce new things slowly and with patience. They will not necessarily know their correct leads or be able to canter in a small circle, it takes time to develop balance and new muscle.
- Many racehorses would never have been on a trailer float. They are generally transported in trucks, so remember when picking your future equestrian star up for the first time give them time to adjust to your float.
- When riding your OTT out with others for the first time be aware, they may get a bit excited and confused. They are used to racing each other and it can take time for them to realise that they no longer need to do that.
- When selecting your new star ask if they have any vices such as wind sucking or weaving. You can learn to live with many things but its nice to know what you are getting from the beginning. Its also a good idea to get it looked over by a vet especially if you are wanting to do some higher level eventing etc, so you know they will be able to stand-up to the training required.
- Consider the diet you will be feeding. Racehorses have been feed a very different diet to pleasure horses and will need time to adjust. If you are in anyway concerned about feeding your OTT seek some professional advice there are a lot or resources out there. Ranvet offer a complementary diet evaluation service where we can help formulate a diet specific for your OTT. Complete our online form here.
- Farrier, dentist, worming, and vaccination are all other things to take into consideration looking into the future. If possible ensure you ask when your OTT received these treatments.
Adopting and retraining an off the track racehorse can be challenging, demanding, and confusing at times but once you and your horses create that partnership you will have a wonderful future together in your discipline of choice. Thoroughbreds can adapt to so many disciplines with the right training and care, if you are in doubt, seek out an experienced qualified coach and they will let you know if the horse you have chosen is the right fit for you and suitable to your abilities.