"If you admire bravery and brilliance and honesty, then look no further than the thoroughbred”
It might seem daunting buying your first ex-racehorse so always ask for help if there is an issue you cannot seem to resolve. Remember, the horse has been conditioned as an athlete and will need time to adjust to a new life. It may have been restricted to a stable for a while so the freedom of a paddock is a big change – increase the outdoor time slowly. The high-protein diet given during training will also need to be adjusted and we’d suggest contacting your feed merchant to discuss how to let your horse down slowly.
A racehorse has been rugged 24/7 so its coat will usually be fine and sensitive to mud. Take time to remove the rugs and rough off the horse and if you’re in a muddy area, it’s a good idea to wash off legs and feet for a few days/weeks. Use a mud fever potion of even vaseline if you have a horse with white sock/hooves.
Racehorses have been training hard and many may look light, but they are simply very fit. Don’t panic about this. It will take time for a horse to let down and alongside your feed merchant you should be able to make a plan to increase the horse’s condition. If there seems to be a continuing issue then ensure you’ve checked for ulcers and discuss with your vet.
A racehorse has been used to a regimented life of routine so changes will doubtless upset the animal in the first few days/weeks. Be sensitive and try to find ways that make it less stressful. So, if he likes to be first out to the field, then go with that until he’s happy to wait. If she likes her food early, then do that to avoid injuries/increasing agitation – pick your battles. Once the horse settles in, teething problems will usually ease. Routine is important however so try to find one that suits.
Horses are naturally better in a herd so companions are usually a good thing. That said, when you first turn out a racehorse, it will probably be delighted and will be bucking and kicking for joy so may not be spacially aware, so to avoid injuries wait for the racehorse to run out of steam before introducing a friend.
Give your horse a few days to become accustomed to its surroundings and if you’ve time, a few weeks to relax. But realistically a horse can get going as soon as you’re both ready.
A normal GP saddle might feel different to a racehorse so give them some time to adjust to it. Some in-hand walking and lunging will help and may take the sting out of the horse prior to mounting. Always starts with a snaffle bit or ‘happy mouth’ as the horse may be sensitive.
Retraining takes time and you will need some experience to be able to make a plan. Alternatively consult with your own instructor of contact a coach on our website for advice. However, basic flatwork is achievable and your horse will appreciate this like any other. Slow build ups and steady work is preferable – allow the horse to enjoy the work. If there is something that causes an issue in the early days, then sometimes you are best to work around it rather than tackle it head on.
Racehorses are usually mounted on the go so standing still doesn’t always occur to them. Find someone to hold them but as soon as mounted let the walk on. Another idea is to point the horse’s head over a fence toward something interesting and make it quick. Eventually they’ll get less anxious.