Thoroughbreds? Ex Racers?

ForbiddenHorse

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I'm still occasionally browsing the net for a second horse. I've been messed around by sellers (yep, not the buyer for once) after finding 2 that were ideal.

I was always saying no to them. Am I mad for now considering a Thoroughbred? OH worked on (hurdling) race yards for years, he adores ex racers. I've always put it off as know they get issues.. but I've had SO many issues with my nutty Welsh cob, I don't think a Thoroughbred can be much worse!

I was told ideally to find a ex hurdler not a flat racer.. as they're raced from usually 4 and not 2yrs.

Any other tips? Avoid? Consider it? Anyone got any stories with a ex racer, good or bad? Vetted? Most are under £1500.

Thanks in advance!
 

PapaverFollis

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Certainly consider it.

We took on an ex-flatracer who had done ok racing. Not great but not a no hoper. If I did the TB thing again I would go for an ex-NH no-hoper. He was way too sharp for a pet home! We could have sorted it I'm sure but we had a run of dreadful bad luck with livery yards and it unsettled him and we wete constantly fighting against shite facilities! In the end we all just lost faith in each other and the chap we bought him off took him back. Honestly don't think it was anyone's fault. Just bad luck all round. He was trying to resell him as a potential kids event horse for a short while... then he was suddenly shipped off to a polo home! Suspect the little darling Did Something and the seller realised that maybe we weren't just hopeless incompetents after all. 😂

The horse himself was an absolute gorgeous person though and I do regret how it all turned out... makes me kind of sad thar I've no idea how he is now. But also not sure I want to know because I do feel like we let him down.

But it's not a no from me although I'm not sure I could try it again.

We got a vetting because that's what we do. Passed with flying colours but then proceeded to constantly self-harm for the next 18 months. ☹
 

Green Bean

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I used to be tempted with Thoroughbreds but have heard of so many stories about joint issues, including kissing spine and, as PapaverFollis has said 'self harm'. As soon as they have got over one thing they go out and injure themselves again. I don't know if they just don't make them like they used to, but in the last 20 years or so they just seem to be risky to take on. I am surprised insurers still accept them.
Of course, all horses and ponies have issues, but the odds aren't on the TBs side when it comes to issues.
 

milliepops

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I've got an ex-NH no hoper. He is WAAAAAY sharper than my friend's slightly more successful ex-flat racer.

He came direct from the trainer so we are nearly 11 months into the retraining journey and it's really only in the last couple of months that he's started to behave more like a normal "pet" horse, he was very withdrawn and generally not keen on fuss for quite a while. To ride: clueless, very sharp, stiff, unpredictable and I found it difficult to manage his brain in a way that allowed him to learn things instead of just run away every time he got startled.

I think we're over the hump. He's starting to feel like a normal green horse and is settled in our "relationship" for want of a better word, is more curious and interactive now like the others that I've got.

My friend's horse has already been through all this bit, she bought him from someone already doing "normal things" with him. He's better adjusted, I would say he's an easier ride though I remember watching her bounce off down the drive in the beginning with his back jammed up her spine ;)
it would have been a nicer experience to get one that someone had already done the hard bit with, but my horse budget was £0 so I wasn't in the position to choose! I did not vet mine. I have nothing to lose really.

Unexpectedly, mine was bad to load and travelled badly. This has improved with practice.
He doesn't really tie up reliably yet. Fine if you're there with him but he frightens himself over nothing and pulls back hysterically. When his brain falls out it's hard to reason with him.
He parked at the mounting block from day 1, despite everyone saying they don't.
He is super thin skinned and is covered in little scars and dings. he comes in with a new cut on his legs a couple of times a week and despite now being fairly well covered he still grazes his hip bones rolling.
He was scared of being hot shod initially.
The biggest plus for my needs is that he's super laid back about horses coming and going. I can turn Kira out while he's eating his tea and he just watches her go and keeps chomping.
 

TPO

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Neurotic TB is an ex racer and <touch wood> isnt a self harmer.

He was bought 6wks from his last race but needed a lot of down time and initially he was getting weekly physio he was so sore and tight. He was bought in sep/Oct time so was let down over the winter while physio and hoof rehab happened.

I've had 3 ex racer TBs, 1 ex racer Arab and one TB that was never near a racing yard. Current TB, neurotic TB, is by far the easiest injury and maintenance wise.

Although having just typed that remind me he managed to puncture his elbow 🙈

I would always say to vet an exracer. Why I'm not sure because I vetted the two I bought and one broke in a different way and the other the vet screwed up and changed the record 🙄 he also went on to break in spectacular fashion. Current TB wasnt vetted and had been sound the longest 🤷🏼‍♀️ but yeah vetting is probably still to be recommended!
 

milliepops

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I would always say to vet an exracer. Why I'm not sure because I vetted the two I bought and one broke in a different way and the other the vet screwed up and changed the record 🙄 he also went on to break in spectacular fashion. Current TB wasnt vetted and had been sound the longest 🤷🏼‍♀️ but yeah vetting is probably still to be recommended!
yes, I should make it clear, I would normally have vetted. The arrangement I had with the trainer was to take him on a month's trial and if we didn't get on then he could go back so I figured I'd do an MOT and have a good look at him during that time and if we came across something dreadful then he would go back.

FWIW mine probably could have done with a bit more physio than he has had. He was extremely crooked when I got him, to the point of being unlevel behind and it's taken quite a lot of careful gymnastic type schoolwork to teach him how to be straight. if we weren't stuck with lockdown I'd be getting him looked at again now he's in harder work.
 

ycbm

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I have had a hurdles bred, but never raced, one for 18 months, and loads of others in the past when I used to retrain and sell on.

This one is quiet and lovely but has a sensitive gut and bucks if he is on the wrong food. That was reasonably easy to sort but he stays on aloe vera permanently.

He had a weak loin area that has taken raised pole work, physio and a whole year of schooling to strengthen up, but finally he no longer has points on top of his bum, but a gentle curve. This spring he became a headshaker but it only lasted two weeks thank goodness, so whatever he is allergic to has a short season.

He seems to be as tough as an old boot and would happy live out full time. He's a good hack after getting him used to traffic, and barefoot without boots. Schooling he tilts his head and can suddenly lock and refuse to bend for a few minutes, to which everyone says 'well he is a thoroughbred' , but I'm not completely happy that's the reason. In consequence, I am having some exploratory neck and back x rays done tomorrow for peace of mind, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if something is found.

He has ear plaques and it is completely impossible to touch his ears.

He used to scream when left alone but he has got over that now. He can be difficult to catch but he will always bring himself in when I catch the other one.

If I'm totally honest, he is a lot more hassle to look after than my mongrel spotty, and £500 a year more in feed and still gets quite lean. I am looking for a third and it definitely won't be an ex racer.

.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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I have been very lucky with mine but I knew them before I took them home from work.

I wouldn't rule out a flat horse but I would look to see when they started their careers. If they ran in April as a 2yo they were mature enough early. If they didn't run til the autumn or their 3yo year then they had a patient trainer and owner so was looked after a bit more.

If you go down the National Hunt route I can highly recommend Milan progeny. And Yeats. They are quite level headed and willing to please though are late maturers. Yeats have bad wind though so will probably have had a wind op.
 

Bellaboo18

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Definitely don't get one because of the price...mine costs twice as much as the other two put together to keep. Physio for a start.
It's a case of buy cheap, pay twice!

I think I'm right in saying you're planning to sell on? If so I think you'll find it harder to sell on an exracer.

Anyway I do love them, I'm a huge fan but I've been reflecting lately and I actually think this one will be my last...

ycbm sums it up for me they're definitely more hassle.

We've had the sensitive gut, seperation anxiety, stiff as a board on one side, tying up took a while and I manage her because if I keep her chill she's lovely but if she loses her head that's that.

I must say though she loves her work and is straightforward to ride, when not lame!
 

PapaverFollis

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My flat racer was raced as a two year old and just how he was I would describe as quite institutionalised and hot-housed maybe. I don't think he was a hopeless case and if I'd had facilities to turn him away for a bit and perhaps had been a bit less precious about him in some ways I think he'd have come right. But it was just a bloody horrible 18 months for us anyway so no-one did very well out of it. I think any new horse would have been a struggle during that time!

The last yard we were on was a full livery yard with an experienced owner... he was quite relieved when we told him we were sending the little guy back! He wasn't enjoying dealing with him.
 

ForbiddenHorse

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Thank you all. Much appreciated for sharing. Haven’t read through everything yet but will spend some time reading each comment :)

I think I'm right in saying you're planning to sell on? If so I think you'll find it harder to sell on an exracer.
Not sure about that yet, have a spare stable on my current yard and they’re now providing assisted or part livery services so would be looking to keep if the right horse came along!
 

paddi22

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my first exracer was a literal walking vets bill that had kissing spine and sacroiliac. he also would absolutely panic and lose his mind if he was confused about things. he turned into a fairly rideable low level dressage horse, but the money he cost in supplements, vets etc was huge. he ended up being pts when he got unmanageable sciatica. even when he had good runs and was going well, he still required more physio's etc to keep him ticking. he also spend half his life getting stone bruises and absesses.

im on my third tb now and even though this one now is a chilled easy going character and even though he's only very young he's on track to rack up up more vets bills than my 4 current horses combined. he literally walks against a bramble and and can shred his side. tonight he just knocked one leg off the others and I've spent the last hour hosing it down and he's lame on it.

I love tbs but maintenance wise you end up spending a fortune on them unless you are the 1% that are very lucky. and I would consider my current one very hardy (barefoot, lives out, no huge rugging/feed isues) but I still look at how fragile he is and despair! if I had one horse on livery I would never get a tb!

as regards selling on you won't get much more than you paid. even if it's a super competitive horse people will pin you down on price cause they know it won't pass a vetting.
 

ycbm

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Mine appears to have grazed his legs on a blade of grass or dust atom in the field again 🤣
So much drama. Fortunately he seems fairly robust in that these frequent dings don't seem to blow up 🙄

Mine's taken a big patch of hair off the front of his face today. Haven't a clue how!

.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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I must be in the 1% that have struck it lucky with my exracers ... Gray has had 1 abcess *touch wood* since I brought him home nearly 9 years ago. He doesn't knock himself or self harm, he can take a beating from a Shetland (but he's not allowed to play with them often as he plays too rough!) He is barefoot and ok he can be quite coltish at times (wasn't cut til he was 4yo) it's more childish coltish than anything else.

Ok Jeff had a few incidents but in 12 years he averaged a £100 a year vets fee. £500 for his chest, £100 x2 for tendon scans and £500 pts. He was a chonic bleeder in racing and still had nosebleeds a couple of times a year with me. I dunno maybe it's because I work with them that I don't see injuries as a big deal.
 

DirectorFury

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It's worth bearing in mind that research has shown that there is a higher incidence of congenital C6-C7 malformations in TBs which can sometimes cause problems (source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0737080614003785 ). Incidence rates seem to range from 28%-40%.
Obviously it's not reasonable or proportionate to write-off an entire breed on this basis (tho I'd also never touch anything commonly known to have PSSM/EPSM in the breed) but it's something to consider when it comes to the vetting stage.
 

PapaverFollis

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I did go from the suicidal TB to a big solid cob who is almost as high maintenance as the blimmin TB was to be honest...

I have to say also that the point we decided we just couldnt cope with the TB anymore was when we were walking around the field in the complete pissing stairrod rain (himself warm and dry in his stable of course) looking for the 3rd lost shoe in a week, knowing that if we didn't find it we would more than likely find him impaled on it the next day...

It was just constant... like unless you did everything perfectly BHS he just found the loophole and injured himself! 😂 It did NOT help my anxiety and perfectionism in any way.
 

fredflop

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From the TB’s that I’ve had, I’ve not found them any more accident prone in the field than other horses, nor have separation anxiety when kept in a herd. (I’m not keen on keeping horses in pairs, as I think it’s generally asking for trouble.)

However they did all come with injuries from racing that were never treated properly (the use of a physio seems beyond most trainers unfortunately). They’ve all needed the dentist as well, although this was more due to previous owners neglect.
One had severe behavioural issues. Partly suspect due to issues being glossed over in racing, then not addressed by subsequent owners.
 

JJS

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Mine was one of the loveliest, most well-mannered horses you could ever meet, on the ground and in the saddle. She schooled nicely, but also adored hacking, and I’ve never ridden another horse that I’ve enjoyed as much as her. She was absolute poetry in motion and beautiful beyond compare.

That being said, she was high maintenance. I had her on a gut supplement constantly, as she was ulcer-prone and liable to bouts of spasmodic colic. She was always scraping bits of hair off or coming in with minor nicks, and she did end up with a capped hock one winter. Abscesses and stone bruises were relatively frequent, and she couldn’t cope if she lost a shoe, let alone go barefoot. She was also a typically poor doer who needed lots of food and rugging.

I lost her at 19 when she broke her leg in the field, but the only reason I wouldn’t have another is because no other could compare to her.
 

LiquidMetal

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I have an ex racer who ran for 3 seasons. Was halfway decent at it. He has been excellent so far and is currently just a pasture pet as I’m expecting a baby in July.

I bought him from his breeders when he retired. He had been let down for a few months and I went to see him at their farm. He has exceptional ground manners. Very pleasant to work around and ties, loads, stands for farrier, clips etc really well. I think there is a belief that horses come off the track with bad manners because grooms just work around them but certainly not the case with my guy. He is also the most respectful of personal space I’ve ever seen in a horse. Even if he spooks, he always knows exactly where you are and will make every effort to avoid stepping on or running into you.

He lives out full time through all kinds of Canadian weather. He does have thin skin and wears a fly sheet but I don’t consider that high maintenance. His biggest weakness is his sad winter coat. He doesn’t grow much of a water repellent top layer of hair so he has to wear a blanket because if he gets wet, he gets cold. He certainly is slower to put on weight than some other horses but he’s not an overly hard keeper. If he gets a scrape, his reaction is nothing like my ISH’s was. Rarely gets any kind of warmth or swelling and is a waaaaay better patient. He is tough. He has been barefoot since November and has far better feet than my QH.

I did a very full vetting including X-rays of front feet, hocks and stifles when I purchased. I’ve also spent money on getting him PEMF treatments which was a game changer in terms of improving his flexibility and getting rid of residual body soreness. He looks like a different horse than last year and is starting to look more warmblood or warmblood cross than TB.

I think a lot of TBs have bad rep because they don’t have the chance to develop great self preservation early in their life. Mine lives in a wire pen that is heavily forested. He regularly rips around like a lunatic. Makes my heart stop but he is super careful and aware of his surroundings. I’m a big believer in letting horses live as naturally as possible.

I would not hesitate to buy another but I would likely only buy from breeder and always do a full vetting. If your husband works in that industry, he should be able to get you the inside scoop on some good ones.
 

TheMule

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I've had a few straight out of training. It makes a big difference where they come from- my best one had been in a lovely training yard where they hack them, they schooled them a bit in the arena and they were kept a bit more like 'normal' horses so he was really easy to do.
I am also currently riding one for someone and it has reminded me why I gave up with the thoroughbred brain..... once it's gone, it ain’t coming back for that ride!
 

ycbm

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I have an ex racer who ran for 3 seasons. Was halfway decent at it. He has been excellent so far and is currently just a pasture pet as I’m expecting a baby in July.

I bought him from his breeders when he retired. He had been let down for a few months and I went to see him at their farm. He has exceptional ground manners. Very pleasant to work around and ties, loads, stands for farrier, clips etc really well. I think there is a belief that horses come off the track with bad manners because grooms just work around them but certainly not the case with my guy. He is also the most respectful of personal space I’ve ever seen in a horse. Even if he spooks, he always knows exactly where you are and will make every effort to avoid stepping on or running into you.

He lives out full time through all kinds of Canadian weather. He does have thin skin and wears a fly sheet but I don’t consider that high maintenance. His biggest weakness is his sad winter coat. He doesn’t grow much of a water repellent top layer of hair so he has to wear a blanket because if he gets wet, he gets cold. He certainly is slower to put on weight than some other horses but he’s not an overly hard keeper. If he gets a scrape, his reaction is nothing like my ISH’s was. Rarely gets any kind of warmth or swelling and is a waaaaay better patient. He is tough. He has been barefoot since November and has far better feet than my QH.

I did a very full vetting including X-rays of front feet, hocks and stifles when I purchased. I’ve also spent money on getting him PEMF treatments which was a game changer in terms of improving his flexibility and getting rid of residual body soreness. He looks like a different horse than last year and is starting to look more warmblood or warmblood cross than TB.

I think a lot of TBs have bad rep because they don’t have the chance to develop great self preservation early in their life. Mine lives in a wire pen that is heavily forested. He regularly rips around like a lunatic. Makes my heart stop but he is super careful and aware of his surroundings. I’m a big believer in letting horses live as naturally as possible.

I would not hesitate to buy another but I would likely only buy from breeder and always do a full vetting. If your husband works in that industry, he should be able to get you the inside scoop on some good ones.

It would be nigh on impossible to buy an ex racer from the breeder in the UK, LM. Is it possible you meant the trainer?

.
 

milliepops

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I am also currently riding one for someone and it has reminded me why I gave up with the thoroughbred brain..... once it's gone, it ain’t coming back for that ride!
haha! the biggest leap of progress I've made with mine lately is being able to put his brain back in between his ears after an "incident"
I thought this would never happen! (tbf said incident may be as small as a leaf moved but you know, progress ;) )
 

Errin Paddywack

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I used to help a friend exercise the two hunters she looked after. One was an ex racer. 16.3, a 6yr old who had been in a hunting home after racing. He was as tough as old boots, had to be as his owner didn't pamper him at all. He had a perpetually snotty nose and I gather was a bleeder when racing. However in the several years I knew him he was never lame and the only illness he had was a bout of colic. Owner didn't get the vet, my friend took a colic drench round for him and spent most of the night with him. His owner was out somewhere. He was ok next day so his owner took him hunting. I found out in later years that he retired himself by refusing to be caught any more. Clever horse, he deserved a better owner.
 

TheMule

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haha! the biggest leap of progress I've made with mine lately is being able to put his brain back in between his ears after an "incident"
I thought this would never happen! (tbf said incident may be as small as a leaf moved but you know, progress ;) )
That is impressive indeed!
 

bonny

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It would be nigh on impossible to buy an ex racer from the breeder in the UK, LM. Is it possible you meant the trainer?

.
Perfectly possible that someone bred a horse, had him trained and raced for a few seasons and then had him back at the end of his career. Lots of horses race for their breeders so why shouldn’t one be sold by them ?
 

ForbiddenHorse

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It's worth bearing in mind that research has shown that there is a higher incidence of congenital C6-C7 malformations in TBs which can sometimes cause problems (source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0737080614003785 ). Incidence rates seem to range from 28%-40%.
Obviously it's not reasonable or proportionate to write-off an entire breed on this basis (tho I'd also never touch anything commonly known to have PSSM/EPSM in the breed) but it's something to consider when it comes to the vetting stage.
My 14.2 cob had a deformity in his neck at C6-C7 and was pts last October before his 10th birthday. My Welsh now is undergoing tests for all PSSM/EPSM as he shows all the symptoms. I bought them as I thought cobs were hardy and less of a risk. Just shows its all down to luck I think, even though some breeds do carry it more. I just quite simply, have the worst luck!

I am also currently riding one for someone and it has reminded me why I gave up with the thoroughbred brain..... once it's gone, it ain’t coming back for that ride!
Haha, I haven't experienced that but then I've ridden cobs or thicker set Irish types for years. Maybe its worth asking a friend to ride their ex racer and see how I feel.

Thank you all. Very knowledgeable or helpful lot you are!
 

TheMule

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My 14.2 cob had a deformity in his neck at C6-C7 and was pts last October before his 10th birthday. My Welsh now is undergoing tests for all PSSM/EPSM as he shows all the symptoms. I bought them as I thought cobs were hardy and less of a risk. Just shows its all down to luck I think, even though some breeds do carry it more. I just quite simply, have the worst luck!



Haha, I haven't experienced that but then I've ridden cobs or thicker set Irish types for years. Maybe its worth asking a friend to ride their ex racer and see how I feel.

Thank you all. Very knowledgeable or helpful lot you are!
If you haven’t ridden thoroughbreds for a while then definitely go and ride some first!
 

milliepops

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If you haven’t ridden thoroughbreds for a while then definitely go and ride some first!
yeah it would be a good idea. I will admit that I have found mine quite frustrating in the past and I'm at one with the Welsh brain so I thought I was pretty easy going with the dingbats! Turns out I get crackpot Welsh brain much more than crackpot TB brain. Mine seems pretty thick by comparison :oops: he's not, actually he's pretty bright, he just has thick reactions. I rode an event-bred TB a while ago and she was the same, i found it a bit irritating then o_O
 
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