Everything You Need To Know If You Want to Buy a Retired Horse


If you are thinking about buying another horse, why not consider getting a retired one? After all, ex-racehorses deserve a good home where they can enjoy a well-deserved retirement. These magnificent animals are extremely athletic, intelligent and can make excellent riding horses in the right hands. During their career they were exposed to all kinds of different things average horses never encounter, which gave them the depth of experience and knowledge. However, since these horses need to be retrained, they are not a great choice for every person. If owning an ex-racehorse sounds like a dream come true, here are several things you should put into consideration before you make the purchase.

Know what you are getting yourself into

First of all, owning a former racehorse requires a lot of your time and patience, not to mention money. Since thoroughbreds are a sensitive breed, they are more expensive to own. Make sure you have a price range in mind for how much you can spend on a horse and ensure you have your everyday finances budgeted to care for a horse. Equipment costs are investments that will last a long time, but you will need to pay feed and veterinary bills on a regular basis. If you want to own an ex-racehorse you need to give it plenty of time to adjust to its new lifestyle and be patient with it every step of the way. Keep in mind that not every horse will immediately adapt to new disciplines and in fact, a lot of them will always keep a part of their racehorse mentality. Ex-racehorses are not used to traditional riding techniques, and will not stand still so you might have a problem with mounting. These animals are used to company and spending time in a busy yard, so your horse might be overwhelmed by the one-on-one attention.

Create a financial plan

As I mentioned, being able to afford a horse has nothing to do with its price.  Buying it is a one-time investment, while financially providing and caring for the horse and giving it a good home is a long term commitment. If you want to buy a retired horse, consider investing in horse insurance which will keep you covered in case your four-legged friend needs colic surgery or in other situations where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford needed care. In order to care for your animal properly you will need the pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and shovels used for cleaning up after it. Although you may already have those at home, there are some specialty items you’ll need to pick up at your local tack shops. You will need to find horse brushes, the tack for riding and driving, and feed and water troughs.  Even though you might be excited to buy new bits, bridles, and saddles wait until your horse arrives so you can get them to custom fit your horse. On the day your new horse comes to its new home, you should have several weeks supply of hay prepared and fences and stable should be completely ready.

Where to find an ex-racehorse?

If you are positive that you want to own a former racehorse, there are three ways you can buy it – from an owner or trainer, at the sales or from a retrainer. In either case, you will have to do your research, look up the horse’s record, ask questions and pay attention to gaps in the record that might indicate time off with an injury.

See it in person

Racehorses, even the retired ones, look lean and toned, but don’t let it cloud your judgment. When you see it in person, ask yourself whether it is the stamp of horse you want and check out how it behaves in the stable and when being tacked up.  Before you make up your mind ask to ride it yourself, and see if it is willing to do what you ask and how it moves. Talk to the horse’s trainer and ask about the animal’s temperament, its injuries and reasons why it is retiring from racing. If you decide to make the purchase, make sure you get it vetted.

Be ready to pay up

Although former racehorses are cheaper than others, don’t think for a second that you will get one for free. After all, this animal has had a successful career and it is worth a price, just like any other horse.

Know the difference between buying from a retrainer and from bloodstock sales

If you are buying your horse from a retrainer, keep in mind that it will be more expensive, but it will be worth it especially if you are not a professional rider or you don’t have experience in training horses. The best thing about getting a horse from a retrainer is that it has already started its post-racing career and began training for its future job, it has been evaluated and all physical issues have been acknowledged and treated. On the other hand, the upside of buying from bloodstock sales is that you have a wide variety of horses to choose from, instead of just going to see one. Check out the sales catalog beforehand, know exactly what kind of horse you are looking for, go through the pedigrees of all the ex-racehorses and then examine them closely at the sale itself. Make sure you look for obvious signs of injuries and operations, ask to see the horse trotted up, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.

Former racehorses are among the most intelligent, athletic and beautiful horses of all. Since they have been handled daily by grooms, hot walkers and others, they are easily groomed with minimal fuss. Ex-racehorses have paid their dues, and deserve to be rewarded for what they accomplished on the track.  Although you will need to retrain your new horse, if you are willing to listen, it will also teach you a thing or two.

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