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<3dressage<3 asked in PetsHorses · 1 decade ago

Has anyone had great luck with ex-racer TBs?

I have had many years of experienc with horses. I am a confident intermediate-advanced rider that is ready for a challenge, but hopes to have a good experience with her first horse. I saw an ad in the paper today for ex-racer TB's "to good homes" (and no price)...so I think they are a rescue group. I have always liked big horses with energy, but I want him to be at least somewhat calm.

A horse that I can love and learn from. Have any of you had luck with ex-racers? My friend is trying to discourage me from getting one, but I want to look into it. Please tell me all of your stories and advice.

Update:

I have ridden a HUGE variety of horses and have experienced many different behavioral issues. My instructer just asked me to be a wrangler at the ranch I work at...and she doesn't just hand out those positions! I hoped I wouldn't get any mean comments :(

The horse I am riding is a TB. I also ride a temperamental APHA...so I know about hot breeds.

11 Answers

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  • Ziggy
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    In my opinion TB's are intelligent and trainable, if with an experienced rider or under the full guidance of an experienced instructor. Personally I would not recommend a green TB to a first horse owner, unless it really was the quietest animal I have ever seen (and I've only seen one).

    I have owned TB's my whole life and have show jumped and done dressage with them. I grew up on a commercial TB stud and was an apprentice jockey and strapper for years. TB's are often given a bad rap, but if handled correctly and taken slowly with a very good foundation then they will be top performance horses. I have re-educated 100's of TB's for performance, pony club and pleasure riding and they are very adaptable.

    Most TB's are babies especially the ones off the track. Most have either had a preparation or barrier trial, even if they did not officially race. If they have, it is very important to be slow, steady and calm with them.

    These are "some" things I do with young TB's, I work a lot on the ground to gain respect. Most of this is boring to young people, but without a good foundation the house will fall down. I spend lots of time leading them around my property, I work on LOTS of halt transitions. I use voice and lead at the exact same time, I also use my body, so just like riding when you want to stop, you plant your bottom. When leading I stop instantly with my voice command. If he has kept walking, even by a step or two he has pulled on his own lead. Does not take long at all and they will stop instantly and square. To walk on again I use voice, lead que and walk myself (soon the voice will be all they need). TB's are very smart (horses in general) they pick it up quickly if someone IS consistent.

    While they are out walking I get them used to lots of things like motorbikes, kids, machinery, cars, dog, sudden movements or noises, something hanging from a gate and flapping and different ground surfaces (soft sinking ground etc). All of the things you don't want a horse to react to under saddle. I take them out for picks of grass because some horses just can't relax and stand and eat. I tie all the horses up, they then stand while I groom everyone. If you only have one, leave them tied while you do other chores. If he raced he should be used to this, but might be fidgety.

    Teach them to move off pressure in any direction. I really find that if you are consistent and calm, horses respond. I'm very matter of fact with my horses, I talk to them all the time. But I don't baby them, give treats (the best treat is a good rub) or react to silly things they do, and they will do lots. LOL You just have to learn to keep your heart rate steady and not show fear, if they pick it up, then they think there is something to be scared of.

    I have a 3 1/2 yo filly (since birth) she has been so consistently handled that she does not realised she has been trained. Last month she was backed for the first time by me and she did not even hump or buck. She is like a seasoned 10yo, the process has been so slow and steady we have never actually had a fight from her. She accepts and trusts in me.

    You have to set yourself up for success, get them going really well on something before you move onto the next thing. Slow and boring, yes LOL. But you will end up with a well rounded, responsive, educated horse everyone will be envious of.

    I see all too often on YA people who have just got a new or young horse and want to jump it tomorrow. They want to rush the process and skip the steps that are truly "training" a horse. They think it makes them better horse people, if they can do things in quicker. But in fact it shows their ignorance and they are the people who keep trainers in business.

    And on the jumping, ground poles are excellent. Even if you don't plan on jumping a horse, scatter some poles around the arena and just incorporate them into your every day work. It will teach them to look where they are going, my old dressage instructor had us going over knee high single stride poles (often without stirrups). It really teaches them to pick up their feet.

    If this is something you REALLY want to do and you think you have the patience and strength of mind needed. Make sure you have a good instructor to keep you both on the right track. You will have to learn to educate this horse to do all of the things you probably take for granted now, such a lateral movements, how to maintain correct rhythm etc. You have to build and give your horse a solid foundation. Repetition will be your friend and in 1 or 2 years you will have a lovely horse.

    I have an appreciation for all horses, but I don't take any horse lightly these days. I have two spinal fractures from separate falls, both from TB's and I'm more careful about who I ride. Every horse deserves great respect, but TB's in the wrong hands can be very dangerous indeed.

    No horse is ever free and a cheap horse is cheap for a reason. Someone has to put.......

    Source(s): .......... the time required into making it a good horse ;-) By the end of it you may spend more than buying a horse ready to go. Also be VERY careful about buying a horse who is under weight, even if they seem quiet, they will be a different horse with a belly full of food ;-) Good luck with your ambition ;-) 33 years riding/owner
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  • Angela
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I've had some WONDERFUL ex-racers over the years. For an experienced rider, they can be wonderul horses. A lot depends on the individual horse. Some horses straight off the track are very calm, while others are completely crazy. Most are somewhere in-between. You do need to realize that even the calmest ex-racehorse is still really green. They only know how to run fast on a big track. Most that I've encountered hardly even steer! And they have NO canter, just a walk, trot, and GALLOP!!!

    In general, I don't think an ex-racer makes a good 1st horse, even for an experienced rider. The only way that I've seen this work out well is if you have the help and supervision of a good trainer. You may need to have the trainer work with the horse for the first month or two before they start giving you lessons on your new horse. If you don't have the help of an experienced horseman, don't do it!

    Now, if you found an ex-racehorse who's been off the track for several years and had some re-training, that's a completely different story. These horses often make great mounts for a confident intermediate-advanced rider. But if you're seeing an ad for "free to good home" then I'm sure the horses come with no retraining at all.

    Another problem with ex-racers is that they often have lots of wear and tear on their legs that can lead to lameness down the road, so a thorough vet check is a MUST!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    We've had some very good luck with them. The trick is to be patient, calm, and quiet! Ex-racers can get worked up over silly things sometimes. Not all race horses are high strung like everyone seems to think (but there are a lot like that). If you get nervous when a horse acts up either in hand or under saddle, I would suggest by-passing an ottb. When working under saddle, the best gait to work at is the canter - it seems to calm them down and let them settle much more so than the trot does. Also, ottb's can have a lot of balance issues going to the right, so before you ever get on, spend some time lounging. Start going to the left, then switch to the right. Once the muscles on that side have built up, you'll be set. You may have to teach him how to pick up the right lead, as well.

    We've got a stallion, Nearly, that raced for a long time. He tends to be very nervous when you move quickly, but he's sweet as can be and wants to behave. He's older now and very quiet. I think he was always that way if the temperament of his foals says anything. Sarge is another ottb. He was kinda scared of people at first but now that he's figured out he gets treats and scratches he's a total pocket pet. Under saddle, he tends to get nervous, so you have to be very soft with him. He's never bucked under saddle, but can get nervous lounging. Smokey is a great example of an ottb with some issues. He absolutely will not stand tied at a trailer (pulls back and sits down), because people in the TB industry do not tie their horses unless it's in cross ties. He has a very hard time picking up his right lead. Again, another extremely sweet horse. Very calm. I almost bought one named Turbo. I remember that he had no clue how to graze, so watch for that! Make sure the horse is eating properly and provide hay. He was also very quiet. Didn't get him because I found another one I liked more through no fault of Turbo's.

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  • Bliss
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I have trained horses for over 30 years. I always bought my horses green and trained them myself. I am spoiled - I don't enjoy riding horses that anyone else trained, because they aren't as good as mine. (not as good *for me*) With this experience, I have not had good results working with OTTBs, and I really don't care for most of them. I try to have an open mind with each horse I meet, but when I meet TBs they usually act the same way - much too flaky. They just don't act like horses from every other breed I know.

    I know a wonderful mare that is 1/2 TB and 1/2 Spotted Draft, but obviously she isn't a racehorse, so she didn't have the mental illness that comes from the track life.

    I suggest a green horse, rather than one that has had its brains scrambled and long-term soundness compromised by the miseries of track life. The green ones are are a great challenge, but you're starting from zero with a clean slate, not going backwards and trying to undo the damage done by such an unnatural life.

    All the best - starting and training your own horse is the most satisfying facet of horsemanship.

    Source(s): starting my greenies successfully since 1974 - not so much success with OTTBs
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I strongly advice you NOT to get one.

    For a first horse I would go for something smaller, calmer, and easier to handle. I am by no means trying to say that all TB's aren't calm but most of them do have a lot of energy. Especially if they have raced.

    Getting something big as your first horse is fine as long as you know how to handle what you are getting.being "ready for a challenge" your first horse isn't the best idea. Until you have mopre experience with horse owning I wouldn't goo for such a big "challenge" as an ex-racing rescue horse. It just spells trouble. To me, every horse is a challenge because they all have their unique quirks about them. You are ALWAYS having to train them so there is always something for you to be teaching them. To me that is a SAFE challenge!

    OTTB (off the track Thoroughbreds) have TONS of energy. If you do decide to get one, get an older one that has been off the track for a long time. Re-programming theses horses takes years of training and even then they all have their TB quirks. They will almost always be harder to ride in fast pace events(especially around other horses) Their racing nature comes out and it can be very dangerous and scary if you have no experience with them.

    There are however, those that had no desire to race in the first place and can be just as calm as can be! My TB gelding is 25 and off the track and he STILL has his moments. He is a pain on trails with others because when he feels he is getting left he thinks he should run and catch up and those are NOT fun battles to fight with such a large animal. The thing I love about TB's is how willing to work and please they are. My gelding is 25 and last season we were jumping 4' fences! He has such a big heart and that;s what I love most about him.

    I don't recommend you getting an OTTB as your first horse. Maybe in the future but not right now. Training them is something that takes TONS of dedication, patience, knowledge, and experience!

    Best of luck!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    i got an ex racer pure thoroughbred at the beginning of this year in january. he is lovely the loveliest horse i've had. he looks after me when i ride him he can be fizzy at times but keep the barley on a low. he only came out of racing march last year so has had no schooling but is going so well on the flat. the only thing is my field is really muddy and he got mud fever really easily but that's due to the type of legs they have. you have to be lightweight or a middleweight rider as thoroughbreds have sensitive backs. the other thing you have to take into account is what you would use the horse for. my horse is going nicely over poles but needs a bit more time before moving onto jumping. where he is a pure thoroughbred he loses weight in the winter like any thoroughbred. they do take up a lot of time and a lot of looking after to keep in tip top condition. it's a case of trying the horse before you get it. when i went to buy my horse cosmo they had no access to a school so had to try him out in a field and he seemed to be fizzy in the field but i was willing to rise to the challenge. as soon as we got him home and let him settle in for a week i rode him for the first time and he seemed so calm in the school he was like a totally different horse. you could always take the horse to racehorse to riding horse classes. if you have the time for a thoroughbred then go for it. i am only 16 and havn't left school yet but as soon as i leave school i will have more time to work on him.

    i hope this helped sorry about the length x

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  • 1 decade ago

    they are great horses but can be a handful, my barn has like 20 X racehorses only one of them is crazy. My favorite is an x racer named Repeat, he is the sweetest and the most caring horse in the world. You should try to get a calm one if you can, so good luck and have fun

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  • Brooke
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Well, to start I completely support you saving any horse from slaughter. It's really tough to say just from a picture whether he'll be the perfect horse for you or not. He's a nice looking horse, and from just the picture I'd say worth the price. Your best bet would be to go and check him out in person. I would get him vetted to see if he is capable of being a show jumper or dressage horse physically. If you go see him, and he seems like the horse you've been looking for and a reliable vet agrees that he would be sound for either of those disciplines, I would say go for it.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I bought my 6 year old OTTB mare back in April. I had seen videos of her and fell in love with her. During my first ride, I realized how green she exactly was. She knew how to run, and well, that was about it. It took ages to get her to slow, even to halt. She couldn't turn. Didn't know what a trot was- it was all sloppy and unorganized. Didn't know how to back up. I took her home without a trainer and within the first couple months, I was overwhelmed, being brought extremely close to tears during rides. I approached problems I had never come across before: how to teach her to bend correctly. How to teach her to not drop her shoulder. How to teach her to accept my aids without bouncing around everywhere and arching her back in. How to teach her to leg yield. How to teach her to halt. How to teach her to half-halt. Getting her to move OUT, not up and down. Engaging her hind. Turn on the haunches/forehand. How to teach her the right lead. "Installing the brake system". How to build trust and confidence. How to not lose my temper. It was extremely challenging and at times, I swore I had bitten off way more than I could chew. But I received an extreme amount of excitement, gratification, pleasant surprises, and moments that made me smile from ear to ear. Watching the lightbulb go on above their head after you've taught them something and being able to get it every time after is one of the most rewarding feelings I've ever had.

    I've had my mare since April now, and even though we've taken a few months off to move, the progress we've made makes me an extremely proud momma. She moves in a nice frame, engaging the hind, stretching the front, rounding her back, going on the vertical, half-passing, trot poles, cross rails, etcetera. And the thing that makes me the happiest is that she's CALM and HAPPY- not strung out. (We do have our overly-happy moments and we have some frustrating lack of communication days.) Although, every TB I've ever met, especially one off the track, can be extremely sensitive. This has been one of my hardest obstacles as I'm used to bull-headed WBs and QHs. They're very smart and eager to learn, but will become easily frustrated and lose confidence. I treat my mare like she's a big newborn. Everything is slow, easy, and to the point. Don't do more than you or your horse can handle. Choose something to work on, work on it, then let it go. If my mare does something incorrect, like picking up the wrong lead, pawing, dropping her shoulder etc, all it takes is a sound affect and she quickly adjusts. No whips, no spurs, nothing but a D ring snaffle.

    From my experience, I would go for it, but please work with an experienced, professional trainer that has worked with OTTB's before, as they very special. :)

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  • 1 decade ago

    I have been partially training an ex-racehorse TB. He is pretty good, but he has his own problems. I think that you could probably handle him, but try some of them out. You should try grooming and riding so that you know that they have both good grooming and riding behaviors.

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