Choosing an Ex-Racehorse

Before you take the plunge, learn what to be wary of as well as what to expect when choosing an ex-racehorse.
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Choosing an Ex-Racehorse
Even if you're getting a bargain on an ex-racehorse, it's wise to invest in a thorough prepurchase exam. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Before you take the plunge, learn what to be wary of as well as what to expect

When I bought my retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Dorado, I did just about everything wrong: I didn’t have a history on him, I didn’t know how old he was, and I didn’t have my veterinarian perform a prepurchase exam. But I’d fallen in love. Nine years later, he’s 22 going on 5, and although he’s still in work, he requires regular (and expensive) veterinary care to help manage the lasting effects of injuries he sustained during his six years on the track.  

The bottom line here? I got lucky! My horse has stayed sound with this maintenance, helped me become a better rider and horsewoman, and taught me just how important it is to carefully manage every aspect of your horse’s health care program. But there’s an easier way to get the ex-racehorse of your dreams. Here, we’ll get you started on the correct path to choosing an off-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) or other retired racehorse, and our sources will share some important points to consider when evaluating prospects.

Why Do Horses Retire?

Horses’ racing careers end for a variety of reasons. Some have had successful runs, and their owners decide they’ve had enough. Others just aren’t fast or interested enough in racing to make training efforts and expenses worthwhile. And still others retire due to injury

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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