Ex racehorse classes are becoming very popular in Ireland with one of the best known being the Racehorse to Riding Horse class at the Dublin Horse Show. Qualifying classes take part at the agricultural shows around the country during the summer and a number of shows also run standalone classes for TBs or ex racehorses.  Find shows at

When showing an ex racehorse, you must first assess what sort of type he/she is. Generally speaking they tend to fall into one of three categories – Hunter, Riding Horse, or Hack. 

The Hunter: There are three hunter weight categories – Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight. Most racehorses tend to fall into the Lightweight Hunter type which should be able to carry up to 12st 7lb, stand around 16.2hh and measure around 8.5 inches of bone below the knee. Hunters should provide a mannerly, yet positive ride. Hunters are generally required to gallop, although it is worth checking the rules if you are entering a racehorse specific class. *Hunters must be shown in plain tack – i.e. flat leather hunter bridle and rider wears a tweed jacket.

The Riding Horse: A Riding Horse is an elegant animal often described as being between a hunter and a hack. Riding Horses wear coloured browbands with ex racehorses often having browbands made specially with the colours that they used to wear during their racing days and the rider wears a tweed jacket. Riding Horses are also expected to show a gallop, although again, check the rules if it is a specific ex racehorse class.  Riding Horses need to have excellent manners and provide a very comfortable ride.

The Hack: A Hack is generally a smaller, more refined animal, with Small Hacks no bigger than 154cm and Large Hacks no bigger than 160cm. Hacks also wear coloured browbands and the riders wear navy jackets. They tend to be lighter of bone than both Hunter and Riding Horses. A Hack is all about elegance and obedience and must have impeccable manners. In a specific Hack class the ride is not asked to gallop.

Rules differ depending on the class – for example for some ex racehorse classes, blemishes such as scars, splints etc are overlooked so it is worth reading up the rules carefully for the class you intend to enter.

Rose Ahern O’Gorman is a registered British Horse Society Accredited Professional Coach and trains riders for the showring and in flatwork and dressage. She can be contacted on 086 3437864 or email:–coach/people/abc/rosemarie-ahern-ogorman