Of Horse

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6 Considerations for Purchasing a Former Race Horse
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6 Considerations for Purchasing a Former Race Horse

Thoroughbred race horses are fast, energetic, strong and generally spirited. As with any athlete, horses push their muscles, ligaments, joints, heart and lungs to the limit for each race. Race horses often have short careers and are often later sold to individuals for recreational purposes. Although the thought of owning a former race horse may be tempting, these six points should be considered.

  1. Affordability:  If the horse has injuries, are rehabilitation requirements affordable? The asking price of a former race horse may be relatively low; however, health requirements may be costly. Consider boarding, feed and tack when adding up the cost to own a horse.
  2. Care Requirements:  Will there be adequate time allotted for care and upkeep? Horses require hoof care, brushing, feeding and a host of other maintenance responsibilities. Who will be responsible for these duties?
  3. Facilities:  Will the horse be boarded at a stable? Has the owner constructed a barn? A thoroughbred with require a paddock for exercise. Is there plenty of grazing and roaming land?
  4. Identify Physical Issues:  Some physical problems may be easily identified, such as damaged hooves, degenerative joint disease, digital flexor tendon ruptures, pelvic distortion and sacroiliac injury. Fusion of the lumbar spine and undiagnosed stress fractures may not be so apparent. A check-up by a veterinarian is a wise investment before purchasing a former race horse or other horse.
  5. Owner’s Experience:  A novice will prefer a less spirited horse. Horses with unknown injuries may not obey easily due to pain. A new owner may not be knowledgeable enough to identify the injury and cause further damage.
  6. Personality:  Race horses are groomed and bathed often, therefore, have built up a tolerance for the process. Former race horses often exhibit the high spirited nature expected of a thoroughbred. Displays of wood chewing or panic disorders are often seen in these horses. The horses may socialize poorly with other horses due to previous confinement. Former race horses are accustomed to having their legs wrapped and will accept the procedure with little fuss.


Photo is courtesy of Race Horse downloaded by Tailsandfur at Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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  1. immasweetiepie
    Great article!
  2. Mark Calvo
    Mark Calvo
    Thanks for posting this. I photograph a lot of horse shows and see a lot of off track Thoroughbreds. For the most part they are wonderful horses. One point I would like to make, and this is from my personal experience, a lot of horses that were breed to race end up not having the temperament for it. These horses often do well in the dressage ring or as hunters or jumpers. Horses have very pliable minds as is evidenced by the many tasks they can learn. I have also met many OTTB horses that have wonderful personalities. In closing I would say take the advice given in this article if you are thinking of getting one of these horses.

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