Buying a young racehorse

spacie1977

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I'm considering buying a racehorse at the Newmarket sales. My YO is experienced with racers and has re-schooled a couple of her own in the past, and says she'll help me through the process with my own. She knows a couple people on the race yards who have told her which horses to look out for that have a nice temperament and will hopefully go onto becoming nice eventers. So I've been reading up like mad, going through the RoR website, and have my eye on two horses in particular who apparently have nice temperaments, have only raced once or twice and not done well on the track (i.e. will hopefully go for very little at auction).
They're both 2 years old and although the YO says racehorses mature very quickly and I can go straight out hacking with them at that age, to be honest that doesn't sit well with me. If I bring one home, I'd like to give them a couple months off in the field with my other horse, to unwind and get used to a slower pace of life. I'd then want to spend a couple months walking in hand alongside a friend hacking, and gently introduce them to normal tack, spend time in the school doing in hand work, lunging, long reining and de-spooking. Hopefully as they've not raced much they'll be easier to re-school than an older ex-racer, but at that age I think I should still be treating them like any other baby horse and going right back to the basics with everything; re-backing and schooling in 6 months time as if they've never been backed before. I just think they'll be calmer and happier if not rushed, and I've got to look out for their physical health too as they're not yet fully developed. Am I being too precious? What has other peoples experiences been with taking on very young ex-racers straight off the track? Should I leave them to unwind for longer than 6 months before getting on and hacking out with a friend? I'm also wondering if it's better to do all the groundwork at home then pay to send them off for a few weeks to a professional re-trainer so they can get off on the best foot as I'm not an expert.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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Personally I recommend that if the horse is still in work at time of buying then keep kicking on with them.

2yo's are different. They will have never carried more than 9stone including all tack and kit on their backs. If you don't weigh much more then I would hope on for a couple of days, get a wee feel then turn away for however long you want to let them grow up.

There will also be older horses at the sales. You will probably be able to pick up a nice 3/4yo for the same price if it is equally useless at racing. Age doesn't come into price brackets for racing, ability does.
 
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Phone the auctioneers for advice as to which sales would be best, but it is high risk to buy at public auction "off the page". Its not the way I would choose.
Not sure why it has to be young? A two year old would almost certainly not be suitable, they are very flighty compared to a five year old.
If you "tighten up" on any TB youngster they are likely to react, you then over react, and suddenly you are not having such a nice time. It depends how good your riding is, rather than your YO's experience, though it helps to have support.
They wont be ready for eventing for a couple of years, and in that time you need to feed and pay for them, plus instruction, so it is likely to be an expensive exercise.
There are several other options, which allow you to find one to suit.
Saving a few hundred by going to a public auction is not often going to pay off.
 
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EventingMum

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I have found with racehorses, like any other horses, they are all individuals and you have to assess them as so. Although not as young as two I have, within the last two weeks bought two NH horses. The older one has been out of racing a few months and is really laid back, a real gent. The other is four, she ran her last race (badly) on the Saturday, we picked her up on the Sunday, Monday she hacked out in open fields on a long rein and since then has been an absolute angel with everything - a little schooling, pole work and some small jumps, including some little xc fences as well as hacking by herself and in company. She will make a lovey wee event horse for someone and IMO, with her, there was absolutely no point in turning her away as mentally she has adjusted really well to her new role. The only issue was for the first few days she didn't eat much haylage but I think that was probably because she had been on 16lbs of hard feed a day and not a huge amount of bulk, obviously we don't feed her like a racehorse! OP, obviously a flat racer who is younger will be less mature and so I would question if this really is the type of horse for you? Your plan to get professional help is wise and if you do go ahead I wish you luck.
 

TheMule

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I wouldn't buy a 2yr old out of training, personally, especially not for eventing. There are many reasons why- too much strain on young skeletons, bad age to re-train and unlikely to have any decent jumping lines behind it so less likely to event. I've always found ex-racers very straightforwards to train- I prefer to buy from a yard where you know it has been done well. Decent yards will have put the correct basics in.
If you do buy a 2yr old I'd do as suggested above- ride it a few times just so you know what you've got and then stick it out in a field for another year
 

spacie1977

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Thank you for your replies. All sound advice :-D
I'm not going to the auctions simply to save a few quid. I'm not rich, but have no qualms about ploughing a lot of money (and time) into retraining with the help of a pro. My thinking is that those horses that don't sell at the auctions, will more often than not, end up in an abattoir, and I'd like to be able to offer an ex racehorse a home for life.
I'm considering a 2 year old simply because I'm under the impression if they've only just started training they won't be so hard wired as an older racehorse I.e. they'd be easier to retrain and hopefully slightly less quirky (my YO's ex racer retired very late and he'll now go completely nuts if someone passes him whilst hacking. In his head he's got to go first to win). I'm also told ex-racers often develop arthritis quite early from being hammered so hard so young, so I'm assuming a 2yr old is less likely to suffer later on, from the wear and tear if they've only just started their racing career when they're disposed of by the trainers for being too slow.
I am in no rush to get out competing. Although that will be my eventual aim, they can just be a companion to my other horse for a couple years as I'm in the process of having my own stables built and will need a companion to the big boy anyway.
Bonkers 2, I totally get what you're saying. When I say 'I'm not an expert', what I mean is that I've obviously not had a young TB before, and I know my own limitations. I think a lot of people believe they're better riders than they actually are, but I genuinely know that although I can ride (I bought my first horse as a very green 5yr old and brought him on myself) I still have things to learn, I'm not heading for Burghley, and I've never brought on a flighty 2yr old. Hence the reason I'd consider paying a professional race horse re-trainer to take the first steps after the TB has had a bit of time to grow up. But all comments have been taken on board and I may instead look for a horse already re-trained as it'll be less daunting than starting them myself.
Hmm... much more thinking and research needed first.
 

spacie1977

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I wouldn't buy a 2yr old out of training, personally, especially not for eventing. There are many reasons why- too much strain on young skeletons, bad age to re-train and unlikely to have any decent jumping lines behind it so less likely to event. I've always found ex-racers very straightforwards to train- I prefer to buy from a yard where you know it has been done well. Decent yards will have put the correct basics in.
If you do buy a 2yr old I'd do as suggested above- ride it a few times just so you know what you've got and then stick it out in a field for another year
Thanks TheMule. Are there any 'decent yards' you could recommend I contact? Or do you reckon I should stick to the re-trainers on the RoR website directory? (None seem to be very close to me)
 

TheMule

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Contact local yards with what you're looking for and you'll get some response back, then you can go and see them at home and get a better feel for it and the environment it's coming from. It's the wrong time of year for NH horses, you're more likely to get something useful in the Spring
I enjoy going to the sales but it's hard to get an accurate picture of what you're buying there.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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What makes you think that these horses will end up as meat? Yes some do but not as many as people seem to believe.

And as for not having done much as a 2yo you would be very surprised!

The majority are backed as yearlings from October onwards. Most will get a break over Xmas and then be back in to start work properly. This isn't just a wee jaunt up the road and the odd canter. This will be full on conditioning work. Maybe a wee bit less than their older counterparts but they will still have had plenty of work! You can't get them fit enough to race otherwise!

Yes this is the right sort of time to get a flat horse as it's the end of the season. The plus point of the sales is that you can see many at the same time, have them trotted up and have basic vetting done (you do have to pay for these regardless of whether you buy the horse or not). The downside is you can't ride them or see them under saddle.
 

paddi22

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Unfortunately there's no guarantee you will get a good eventer by the end of it, in spite of how well you might manage it. What kind of level do you hope to compete at? I got an exracer who on paper, comformationwise and looking at it loose jumping should have been a super eventer. Unfortunately his brain didn't agree! If you are happy enjoying the process of reschooling, and have support then go for it. But if its your only chance to get something to event then don't assume that it will do that even after the best schooling. I ended up getting a different horse as well in the end, as my exracer just was never going to cut it competitionwise at all and i really wanted to be out competing. But the reschooling process in itself was really interesting and i learnt loads (as well as getting injured loads!)
 

Brummyrat

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If I were you I'd contact small local trainers and go along and see how they're managed at home. My boss trains a few in his spare time (very successfully!) and when at his yard its lovely to see at how normally they're kept - as in like one of ours. After work they are led to fields four at a time, in headcollars, and turned out all day every day and they are all happy beasties who smile over their stable doors when theyre in. He has offered me one when I was looking but Im more a welshie person and would like such a midget on a 16hh plus, so bought one of those instead. I definitely gave it some thought though based on their temperaments.

As an aside, when I fantasise about what could've been, I watch Kelly Jewell on Youtube and find her inspiring with ex racers.
 
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I really have to disagree with a lot of the ideas you have about young racehorses, and I would not recommend Newmarket end of season sales to buy a two year old as a potential eventer. There are many other routes to find a suitable horse.

I can understand that you want to offer a good home for an ex racer, but in the long term you must buy something which you can manage and enjoy working with.
It is quite possible that you don't have enough experience to ride a sharp youngster, and even if they are relatively quiet in training, it does not guarantee that you will find it so easy when you get them home. They are used to being ridden by young, fit and fearless lightweight professional riders in a herd situation, with a regular routine. They may never have hacked out alone or done any schooling in the BHS way.
 
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JustMe22

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I bought my tb from a racing auction about 6 months ago, but wouldn't have considered a 2yo. Admittedly the auction was for horses in racing already so mostly 3 and above. I found a nice 3yo very cheap and took him home.

I've basically just hacked him for 6 months and gone in thw arena once a fortnight or so and although he's had his moments i wouldnt say he's been harder than any other youngster. Significantly easier than the namibian warmblood youngster who keeps chucking me off!

However, exracers here are very common. He's my third one, and if he had been too much for me i would have sold on asap.

Would not go for a 2yo though. I think you'll find that the difference between the mentality/experiences of a 2 and 3yp are minimal, but you could at least start hacking something that was 3 or 4.

Nikkimariet on here got hers at age 7 if i remember correctly - and there's a definite school of thought that if they're bought older and have stayed sound throughout their racing career, they'll probably stay sound thereafter. Whether or not its true, i cant say!
 
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For an eventer you want a NH type rather than a flat type. There are certain breeding lines which produce horses with stamina and some which produce sprinters, ie horses bred to run fast for five furlongs! The two year olds will be mostly flat types. The affordable ones will probably be failed racehorses, too slow or too fragile to race.
To select a horse from a sales, the standard procedure is to get the catalogue and from the breeding lines ["the page"], one has to de select those who will be too expensive, and those who are bred to sprint. Then whittle it down to a manageable number to view on the day. Then decide if you want a pre sales vetting, then decide if you want to bid. There may be a minimum price for any horse, this prevents horses being sold to the meat man, who will not be attending such a sale anyway.
There will be costs involved and you will probably need to lodge the cash with the auctioneer, and arrange insurance for any horse which you own, ie when the hammer falls.
Re training at a specialist racehorse re training facility may take months, rather than weeks. If all this sounds very downbeat, so be it, there are plenty of lucky people who find a good eventer from horses not bred for that purpose, but they are the exceptions.
 
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Yes EKW, but there are certain lines which are producing NH horses, [the stallions are quite mature by the time their potential is recognised], and NH trainers will be buying these ones, so that anyone just picking up a horse from Tattersalls is not going to get that type at a price they can afford.

Potential, good, NH horses can cost over £100,000, there are bloodstock agents looking out for good horses all year round.
The horses at the end of season sale will have already been considered by knowledgeable people, the cheaper ones are priced according to their potential. Of course there are bargains, but most of these flat bred horses are not really eventing types.
I would be looking for a good big five year old who is safe, and sound.
 
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popsdosh

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Newmarket end of season is the last place you will find a viable bargain as the bottom end tends to go elsewhere. usually not to have money wasted selling it.
 
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If I was in your situation I would research local trainers because not all horses in training are like this-
They are used to being ridden by young, fit and fearless lightweight professional riders in a herd situation, with a regular routine. They may never have hacked out alone or done any schooling in the BHS way.
There is a lady who trains very successfully near me and her horses act like horses, they spend most of their day outside, sometimes they get hacked round the estate (quite a few yards do actually do this!). I would find a trainer who's school of thought I agree with and contact them! it may take a while of waiting but hopefully you will end up with a horse that is more suited to you! Good luck!
 

cundlegreen

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Thanks TheMule. Are there any 'decent yards' you could recommend I contact? Or do you reckon I should stick to the re-trainers on the RoR website directory? (None seem to be very close to me)
I'd strongly recommend Nunstainton stud in Co Durham. They breed all their own, and the 6 yr old I bought from them this year is a lovely horse and very well mannered, and pretty much bombproof. They have a girl that was on the british event team breaking in and backing them, and seem to turn out nice looking and moving types. My horse has taken to eventing very easily, and is one of the easiest horses I've had. You may have to pay a bit more, but it won't have been spoilt. NS are on facebook.
 

Newlands

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Where abouts are you? My yard owner who events and also trains pointers always has a great, small selection of lovely horses, all treated like horses and re trained to other disciplines if it suits them more. As an eventer she knows which ones will be best moving on in that direction too. I've fallen for a lot of them and they have all been little stars, i know she has a couple now more suited to RC or eventing homes, or I'm sure could find you something. PM me if you would like her contact details.
 

spacie1977

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For an eventer you want a NH type rather than a flat type. There are certain breeding lines which produce horses with stamina and some which produce sprinters, ie horses bred to run fast for five furlongs! The two year olds will be mostly flat types. The affordable ones will probably be failed racehorses, too slow or too fragile to race.
To select a horse from a sales, the standard procedure is to get the catalogue and from the breeding lines ["the page"], one has to de select those who will be too expensive, and those who are bred to sprint. Then whittle it down to a manageable number to view on the day. Then decide if you want a pre sales vetting, then decide if you want to bid. There may be a minimum price for any horse, this prevents horses being sold to the meat man, who will not be attending such a sale anyway.
There will be costs involved and you will probably need to lodge the cash with the auctioneer, and arrange insurance for any horse which you own, ie when the hammer falls.
Re training at a specialist racehorse re training facility may take months, rather than weeks. If all this sounds very downbeat, so be it, there are plenty of lucky people who find a good eventer from horses not bred for that purpose, but they are the exceptions.
Hi Bonkers2, thank you for the post. I'm afraid I don't completely agree with you regarding 'type' of ex-racer though. Flat racers have no prior experience of jumping so can be introduced to it gently in the same way you would as any youngster. But an NH type has been taught to jump as fast and flat as possible, brushing through jumps. I.e. they'll potentially be a proper pain in the bum to teach to show jump, knocking poles, and downright dangerous doing XC. Re-training their jumping would be difficult to say the least.
I've been to the sales before as a spectator so know the process, and I've visited the yards I'd consider buying a horse from, and know staff there through a friend of a friend. My current YO has nearly 30 years working within the race industry so I fully trust her advice and support, and I don't expect an ex racer to have done any schooling, let alone in the BHS way, so rest assured, I know what I'm getting myself into. And what makes you think I'm not fit, lightweight and fearless? I fully appreciate your concerns but I have ridden very sharp horses, including ex-racers (albeit not as young as 2yrs), and despite not working within the industry or ridden nutty TB youngsters on a regular basis, I have still lived to tell the tales. My original post was to ask whether people with experience of young ex-racers think I should crack on with re-schooling or give the youngster more time to mature first, not questioning where I should get a horse from or whether I should go to the sales at all. I'm of the opinion that a young body (regardless of species) shouldn't be pushed too hard too young. My previous YO thought it was better to get a few very good years out of a young horse eventing and risk them braking as a result, than to let them grow up and get a few average years of eventing out of them. I felt this was wrong and didn't put the horse first in their grand scheme of rosette collecting. Call me a softie, but I'm just not competitive enough to put my own pleasure and success before an animals welfare.
 

spacie1977

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Unfortunately there's no guarantee you will get a good eventer by the end of it, in spite of how well you might manage it. What kind of level do you hope to compete at? I got an exracer who on paper, comformationwise and looking at it loose jumping should have been a super eventer. Unfortunately his brain didn't agree! If you are happy enjoying the process of reschooling, and have support then go for it. But if its your only chance to get something to event then don't assume that it will do that even after the best schooling. I ended up getting a different horse as well in the end, as my exracer just was never going to cut it competitionwise at all and i really wanted to be out competing. But the reschooling process in itself was really interesting and i learnt loads (as well as getting injured loads!)
Thank you for your input paddi22. TBH I'm not looking to compete at a high level, and think the re-schooling process will be just as satisfying. I'll want help of course, as re-schooling isn't my occupation. But I've not got massive ambitions eventing wise. At the end of the day, I've got other commitments in my life - work, family etc. so have to be realistic about how far I'd go.
Regarding getting injured, I've done sky-diving a few times so hopefully at least I've learnt to fall and roll properly. A skill I'm sure to call upon once or twice, retraining an ex race horse lol!
 

spacie1977

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So annoyingly, (or lovingly, however you want to see it!) my husband has just spilled the beans that he's booked a holiday for us as a surprise birthday present in December. I've got to love him for his timing! So I'll be going to the sales tomorrow for a gawp, but nothing more, and leaving my purse firmly in my bag as I can't buy a new ponio with a holiday on the cards. Gah! And now apparently it's MY fault I hadn't told him I was on the look out for a new horse. I don't have the heart to tell him I'd prefer a new ned over the opportunity to bask in the sun with him, so will now probably look out for retrained/part-retrained ex-racers in the new year.
 
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I consider an NH type to be strong and athletic, with good conformation, this is number one priority, the flat types that I would avoid are the ones bred to be precocious, with lack of bone and "toughness".
Breeding is another story, but if you only have one horse it must be sound. And generally speaking not "wired to the moon".
Any horse can jump, but some are better than others.
Having worked in several NH yards, I have to tell you that we would not go to Newmarket end of season sales to buy a racehorse for that job.
You must be cynical when someone says he has a horse for you: the trainer may well want to make his owner happy and get a good home for his failures, that may well be more important to him than to get you a a good horse. Remember that it costs about £800 , give or take to get a horse to go under the hammer, so depending on your viewpoint, you are getting a bargain, as most will have cost well over £10,000K by the time they get to the sale, OR you are paying the first £800 for costs, and the horse is actually worth a lot less than you are paying. Buying any horse is a big gamble, and a big responsibility and you can do everything right and still have a bad experience, or do everything on a whim and get a chart topper.
 
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Doormouse

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Goodness me, there are a lot sweeping statements on this post.

NH horses are a pain to teach to jump and dangerous xc? As with all horses depends on the horse. I have had a Grade 1 winning hurdler who was a brilliant show jumper, very accurate and never had a fence down from the moment we started re trading him. He was safe xc but not over bold. I have had a slow but sweet 3 mile chaser who I would take down to any hedge but made for,the gate if I saw a rail coming unless it was over 3'6".

I have had sprint bred horses who have jumped and ones who haven't, ones who tried but never got it etc.

TB's are just like any other horse, they are all individuals. I would suggest you buy on good conformation and temperament if you can find out a bit in advance. After that, you may have found a brilliant one or it might be not what you want at all, buying horses straight out of training is a lottery.
 

cundlegreen

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Goodness me, there are a lot sweeping statements on this post.

NH horses are a pain to teach to jump and dangerous xc? As with all horses depends on the horse. I have had a Grade 1 winning hurdler who was a brilliant show jumper, very accurate and never had a fence down from the moment we started re trading him. He was safe xc but not over bold. I have had a slow but sweet 3 mile chaser who I would take down to any hedge but made for,the gate if I saw a rail coming unless it was over 3'6".

I have had sprint bred horses who have jumped and ones who haven't, ones who tried but never got it etc.

TB's are just like any other horse, they are all individuals. I would suggest you buy on good conformation and temperament if you can find out a bit in advance. After that, you may have found a brilliant one or it might be not what you want at all, buying horses straight out of training is a lottery.
My best horse ever was a small, light of bone sprinter. She had a arse like a bus, and a jump to go with it. Competed HOYS and RIHS as a working hunter, won a PTP, and then went to 2* eventing at 11. I always like sprint bred horses better, as they have an engine there already, and plenty make very good jumpers. Remember Red Rum was a small horse able to win a 2 yr old race before becoming a Grand National legend.
 
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We bought two young horses for flapping, one was a Green Desert youngster, top heavy, and had been through the sales unsold. By the time he was four and five, he was winning a few races and was always sound in training, he was in our price bracket but would not have been bought if we wanted a jumper.
The second had been bred for The Derby, and was highly tried, all over Europe, eventually sold to us for £700 from a trainer, she had been knocked about, so we fed her good food and plenty of tlc, she got to enjoy her racing and won a few for us, she could have been a very nice little RC horse, except that she was always inclined to get herself in to trouble, aka typical TB.
They both were sound, that to me was the main thing when you want something to ride. They both won races cos they were sound and well bred.
The science of training suggests that progressive training of youngsters will actually increase bone density, however, over training almost bound to lead to trouble at one tine or another, Red Rum was a freak, and he was not the kind of horse who would do well in amateur hands, as a youngster he was a bit of a nutter.
 
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tristar

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hi op, i love the way you intend on going about training your future eventer, whatever you end up with should be a lucky horse.

personally i would look for a horse with strong loins and quarter,well coupled with a hint of a good overall conformation to grow into and an upstanding look about it so its a little naturally off the forehand and a bold eye and a bit of cheek about it, and legs to carry the upper portion of the body, but that just me, i breed eventers and thats what i aim for.

a lot of horses you will look at will be very well bred, treat them like the royalty they are and you will get your reward.

best of luck
 
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