Off track Thoroughbreds and other ex-racehorses are an exciting and viable option for the experienced rider who is ready for a prospect. Many breeds race in the U.S., but Thoroughbreds are the most commonly available. Off track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) offer tons of advantages at a small price for the rider/trainer willing to do the work to teach a young horse a new job. If you are looking for a prospect for dressage, eventing, hunter/jumpers, barrel racing, or the hunter ring- you want to check out the available ex -racehorses in your area. In addition to obtaining a quality mount, you will likely be saving a horse from slaughter. Sadly, many owners are forced to sell healthy young horses to slaughterhouses when they are no longer profitable at the track. Below are some resources to help you locate, adopt, and succeed with a young Thoroughbred.
CANTER, The Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses, is a non- profit organization that locates and lists horses that need homes. You can check out their site for photos and descriptions of horses as well as contact information for the horse’s owner or trainer. Some horses belong to the organization and require a background check to be approved for adoption; but most are listed by the trainer who needs to find a safe home for the horse right away. You will find everything from very young horses that have raced only once or twice to older horses that retired from racing due to an injury. Prices typically range from $500-$1500 and do not include transport from the track. CANTER bases are located in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New England, and the Mid Atlantic. Most of the horses presented here have no training other than race training and will take patience and education to learn a new job.
LOPE, Lone Star Outreach to Place Ex-racers is a great organization serving Texas and the surrounding states. Like CANTER, LOPE has ranch horses and trainer listings. Along with Thoroughbreds, LOPE offers listings for Arabians, Quarter horses, and Paints who are ready to leave the track. Adoption fees are similar to CANTER for OTTBs, slightly higher for other breeds.
New Vocations is an Ohio based outfit that takes in OTTBs and Standardbreds. Here the horses begin training for riding careers and are adopted to approved homes. Some of the horses listed have had quite a bit of training and have been trail ridden and even competed as jumpers, hunters, and dressage mounts. The staff and volunteers give a lot of information about the history, personality, and abilities of the prospective mount to facilitate a match. Adoption fees at New Vocations are nominal, topping out around $700.
While it can be a big job to retrain an ex-racehorse, these youngsters have a lot going for them. Among the advantages of adopting an OTTB are excellent ground manners, a history of good medical care and maintenance, and getting a young horse with good breeding and lots of potential for very little money. The ex-racehorses I have worked with have been very pleasant animals that are quick learners and eager to please their trainers.
On the other side of the coin, some of the challenges you can expect to face with an OOTB are incorporating them into a herd, teaching them to respond to pressure from the leg and bit, standing still for mounting, and adjusting to a new environment. All of these training issues are generally surmountable with patient and consistent training. Training articles and other resources are available on the organizations website. For the confident and experienced rider, your dream horse may be just a few clicks away.