What I've learned from owning an ex-racehorse

I’ve owned ex racehorses for over a decade, and can honestly say that I would always look to buy an ex-racehorse. The wastage of the racing industry makes taking on a retired racehorse the ultimate in equestrian recycling, and after years of seeing the benefits of owning and riding these equine Ferraris I can’t imagine another model. It would be false to say that ex racehorse ownership is easy or for everyone, but here are a few of the things I’ve learnt along the way…

  1. Most horse owners appreciate their farrier. As an ex-racehorse owner you will learn to revere yours, seeing them more often than your close family and putting their number on speed dial for all of those “lost shoe” emergencies
  2. Similarly you will be able to spot an abscess or a stone bruise a mile away and have a huge supply of “just in case” poultices and wraps
  3. You will be partly exasperated by and partly envious of your horse’s metabolism which allows them to constantly eat and yet remain supermodel slender
  4. Even racehorses that had disastrously rubbish racing careers will have an innate desire to win. Eventually they can be taught that life itself does not need to be a competitive event, but expect the backwards pinning of ears as you teach them that (a) the Field Master does indeed need to be in front out hunting and (b) a lovely hack with the local cob needs to be taken at the latter’s pace
  5. Your ex-racehorse is likely to be excellent to load, travel, and shoe, having been handled and transported from a young age. White road markings, errant leaves, and your neighbour’s Shetland will be terrifying will all be monsters in disguise and require careful investigation and potential flight
  6. There is no feeling quite like letting your horse extend into gallop and relive their career highlight (even if that was 7th in the 5.15 at Wolverhampton)
  7. It is very difficult to find a thoroughbred that isn’t conventionally beautiful. Your horse will receive more compliments on its looks than you
  8. Never look up your horse’s pedigree while on a ten minute tea break. You will fall into an internet wormhole and resurface several hours later, wondering why your boss wants a “quick word”
  9. Despite the success of ex-racehorses across all equine disciplines, including eventing, you will find yourself having to defend their credentials- and explain that no, you don’t want to spend £10k on a four year old Danish warmblood with extravagant movement but dubious IQ
  10. While a strong will and clever mind can make training an ex-racehorse a challenge (especially when the horse also has a short attention span) it can be very useful to ride an animal that can detect a bog, find its way home when you get lost, and associate the trailer with exciting adventures
  11. Some people will try to tell you that your horse is just highly strung, but I know that when mine lunges to bite an ex-boyfriend it is because of his keen judgement of character…

What have you learnt from owning an ex-racehorse?