Retraining Retired Racing Horses

There’s a limit to how long a horse can be used for racing, and retirement is a part of the process that everyone should be aware of.  However, after the horse has retired, it can and should still lead a happy life through all the stages to come.

Retired horses can be retrained to be ridden outside the races.  Some can still race in less intense events, but bringing them to that point takes time.  Races such as these still have a following, and there’s an overview of the best crash gambling sites that provide wagers on such events.

A Change in Diet 

One of the first things that needs to change when a racehorse retires is its diet.  Many make the mistake of putting the horses on high-calorie condition feeds right away.  This is too sudden of a change for a racehorse and should be avoided.

A better alternative would be to create a diet with a lot of fiber but low calories.  They should always have access to forage.  This means good quality hay in the stable and hay in the field, too, when there isn’t much grass.

Many new owners think the racing horses are too thin and try to fix it immediately.  Chances are that a racehorse is just very fit and fed for racing.  Since the horse will need much less energy when it’s not racing, the diet should adapt as well.

A balancer and low sugar or low starch chaff is a great starting point for feed.  Adding chaff bulks out of the feed encourages the horses to chew their food and eat slower.  As is the case with all of the changes, it’s best to go slowly.

Keeping the Tack Simple

 Many riders wrongly assume that racehorses are strong and that they need strong bits and bridles.  Most racehorses race and train in a snaffle, and many don’t wear a noseband at all.  It’s useful to inquire with the trainer what kind of tack the horse is used to and why.

If a horse isn’t used to a noseband and your goal is to have it compete, it’s best to start with loose caverson.  Most competitions require the horse to have a noseband, and this will be a way to transition to it smoothly.

Keep the tack simple whenever you can.  The best way to go is a double-jointed snaffle with a French link.  Having a neck strap or loose running martingale is often a good idea.  It’s mostly to provide some security to the rider.

Choosing a saddle that isn’t specifically made for racing is also a matter.  These saddles are flat and light; choosing one suited to that purpose may be a good idea, depending on what you’re training the horse for.  Adjustable saddles are the best way to go, as retired racing horses tend to change their weight rather quickly.

Study up on Race Riding

 Your new horse is used to being handled like a racehorse.  It’s very difficult to go against those years of training and experience.  Therefore, the best way to go is to learn about race riding and training to predict how your behavior will affect the horse.

 Fiddling or shortening the reins on a racehorse means it’s time to race.  Horses are also walked to the gallops on a long rein, often with the feet out of the stirrups.  It’s also important to remember that picking up the reins may signal to the horse that it should go even harder when the horse gets heated.

The best advice for racers to train retired racehorses is not to pick up the rains.  It can be dangerous, and there’s a chance the horse will misinterpret your action.  In most cases, the horse will interpret it as a sign to pick up the pace once again.

Many racers also find that letting them trot on for a bit and bringing them back might work best.  The key advice here is to keep in mind that it was a racehorse, and they are already trained a certain way, and you need to adapt.  Riders can introduce new commands to the horse after a while, but at least at the beginning, it’s best not to overstimulate them.

The Transition isn’t Easy

 Racehorses have good manners and are used to being around people and in large events, such as the races themselves.  Mostly, they will be obedient, and they are fine with being led by the reins.  All of this may lead the riders to believe the horses are on board with retraining.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the transition is new to them as well and that they may not always understand what’s expected of them in the new surroundings.

The best way to approach this problem is to treat your new horse as if it’s a baby.  This may seem strange as retired racehorses are usually past their prime and can be stubborn about things.  However, they will also treat the retraining similar to a baby as it’s all new to them.

Some relatively simple tasks that a horse can quickly figure out may be challenging for a racing horse that hasn’t experienced them before.  Many won’t know how to stand at a mounting block, be tied up in the yard, or work in an outline.

Expect the Unexpected

 Horses are known to have strong personalities and to be somewhat quirky and individualistic.  This is the case with all horses, especially for racing horses adapting to retirement.  It’s something to prepare yourself as a rider so that you’re not startled by it.

Many will have a favored canter lead, left or right, and many favor one leg over the other.  This affects which track they prefer when they are, and it will find its way to other preferences once the horse is retired from racing.

The horses also tend to get stubborn about minor issues; in many cases, there’s nothing a rider can do to correct this behavior.  The easiest way to go is to accept your new horse’s quirks and learn to love them, as many riders do.  Returning to the basics of training can help if it’s done gradually.

It’s not uncommon for ex-racehorses to have a slightly rotated pelvis.  This can make it harder for them to work on two tracks, pick up canter leads, or bend evenly on both reins. The issue can also be fixed, but it takes a good physiotherapist.  Patience is the most important quality to have when retraining racehorses.


 Retired racehorses can have a full and fulfilled life when they stop racing.  There are many purposes for which they can be retrained, including some forms of racing beyond the professional races.  They need to be retrained first; this is a complex process that requires a change in diet.

There are many ways in which riders will have to adapt to the quirks and unique personalities of such horses.  It’s best to treat horses that are going through the retraining as babies as they are new to the environment they are put in, and to be patient with them.