View Full Version : Using Ex-Racers For Dressage

07-04-01, 07:00 AM
I am keeping a look out for a horse I can use for dressage. I have heard of people getting TB's off the track and am wondering is this a difficult venture? I know a trainer who has previously offered me a young TB that was too slow for the track but I am not sure on how suitable these horses are for dressage. Can anyone give me their opinions or experiences and what I should look for before taking the horse on and what type of re-education they need.

07-04-01, 07:53 AM
ok so a few basic facts horses off the track tend to be fairly quiet as they have been in work since they could run... so not so much the problem of staying on but getting the quality of work..
usuall problems to consider are..
1/ they have NO acceptance of leg or leg to hand when you first hop on
2/ can be used to working in a group so can be nappy.
3/ soundness... allways check legs very thourghly and remember there are alot of OFT horses to choose from.. plenty are sound and straight so dont take on an if!
good points..
1/usually well handeled and cared for as they have potential to make money..
2/ Some real bargains about.. especially for dressage.. some great movers.
3/ very rewarding when they start to play the game.

ok so a bit basic.. not easy challange.. if you are not experianced perhaps buy one that has done some basic shool work allready.. often availible cheaply as they have been either given or very cheaply sold to certain re homers.
otherwise if you find one you like find a friend with experiance to look at him/her with you then school it initially till the basics are installed.
hope that clears the fog and some food for thought.. starting a racehorse is similar to starting any other i guess is the crunch so if you have started a baby before you should have no worries.

Elizabeth Johansson
07-04-01, 08:20 AM
Hay Chelle
I have an X racehorse TB gelding that I have trained myself from nothing to elementry we are always placed. He is a flashy mover and sometimes moves a little fast, But isn't going forward better than not going at all. He has the best temperment but sometimes gets a little stresed but gets over it quickly. Proberaly your main concern would be leg damage and or stress realated problems from been worked to hard from an early age. So deffinetly have a vet check. I think you should go for it if you have the confordence. You will be rewarded!!! Good LUCK!!!

07-04-01, 11:21 PM
I bought a horse off the track for $400. What a bargain, three years later he is now Elementary/Medium and jumping D Grade. Its the question of getting the right horse. I wouldn't go for one that is built like a sprinter..short backed and straight through the hocks. Very hard to sit a trot to and always look like they are going downhill. A good "staying" type of build, with a good angled shoulder, soft through the neck, avoid those who have a very developed muscle under the neck for obvious reasons, good hocks and sloping pasterns (not too sloping). An important point is his engine (the hindquarters). You should be able to draw a triangle from the point of his hip to the point of his buttock to the muscle above his gaskin and get an even sided triangle, or as near as dammit. Most importantly check that his legs are clean.
I rest a horse off the track for a few months then start taking them out for hacks and treating them like a horse should be treated. Lunging in a chambon is very good. Strengthens the topline and teaches them to give to the contact. Leg yields, turns on the forehand and shoulder in are excellent to teach them to move off the leg. Please do not make the mistake of fixing the head position before teaching the horse to move forward first. No see-saw stuff. They will soften into the contact when they are relaxed. Good luck. Hope my 2 cents worth helps.

08-04-01, 02:29 PM
i'll just stick my bit in here too
Of course, check soundness first. There's plenty of sound slow pokes but its best to make sure you're not getting a dud.

i bought a 5yo straight off the track last August. Like everyone else has basically said, they are normally very well handled - you can park mine and leave him while you wander off and get something, he wont move, picks feet up before you get to them, that kinda stuff. We go for bareback rides, in halter, quiet but willing and energetic. most have good canters too.

They can also be a bit rude, but Im guessing that has to do with the number of people handling them, not themselves - its easily corrected with patience and its normally just cos they dont know any better - heads diving into feed bins before you've got your hands out......

I didnt give my boy a spell as such but didnt do any real work with him for a while, just nice quiet hacks out, bit of a trot, stop go stuff..easy...

Started him with 'proper' work in November. This takes a whole lot of patience and lots of sweat (hopefully no blood). Its true, they have no idea what legs on mean, but my boy catches on quickly even though he still doesnt really understand what he's doing...it gradually clicks, and what they couldnt do yesterday they can do the next.

There's lots of rough bits where you get completely frustrated because they just dont get what you ask, but repetition works and on the whole, if you have confidence in yourself it'll be rewarding. We're doing a prelim test in may, so cant speak for higher levels, but i reckon there's lots out there.

Cassie (Guest)
10-04-01, 10:49 PM
I agree with all the replies so my 2 cents worth is this. The last 3 dressage horses I've had have been ex-raceers and the best point is
- you can hose their face, stick a wormer in their mouth without them stopping chewing their food, hot-shoe them, stable them, chuck rugs over their heads...you name it they don't blink an eyelid.

The worst point which has been mentioned is RUDENESS!! Definately generally lacking in manners. And the first few outings can be a bit chaotic if they think they might be at the track. Choose quiet little unofficial days or consider getting him to a few Pony Club or ARC days. They do wonders.

My current horse has just done a tendon. Considering he appeared completely sound when I bought him and I only do flatwork in a nice sand arena and hack quietly on bush tracks - it had to have been there before I got him but in remission. It's a very disappointing time for me and I have to turn him out for 6-12 months after 8 months of very hard work and lots of money....

Good luck

10-04-01, 11:08 PM
I'll be totally honest in answering this and apologise if I offend anyone, as that is not my intention, but just a few facts.


Totally exposed to just about everything a horse can ever come across. (floating, worming, clipping, teeth etc., etc.,)

Huge availability.

Cheap to purchase.

Usually very willing to please and love people contact.


Due to cheaper price, largely purchased by less experienced riders who have trouble coping with any exuberance. (previously referred to as 'rudeness'.)

Susceptible to soundness problems which are not detected at purchase time due to inexperience by purchaser.

Some may need to be given time to get 'racing' out of their system to enable them to cope with the demands of dressage.

I hope no-one thinks I am knocking OTTB as I've had a few in my time and love them to bits. But, very, very few make it to the better ranks of dressage. Yes, I accept there are some who have, but the odds are very much against them.

There are some fantastic OTTBs out there and the one thing you really need to have is PATIENCE.

rappie (Guest)
11-04-01, 03:21 PM
dont want to start a debate cos this isnt really that important, but is exuberance quite the same as rudeness?
I can't speak for anyone else, and dont know which post you were referring to - but i would have thought they were different.
My racehorse rudeness' were things like the horse having no respect for your personal space, feet and so on, where as exuberance in the same sense i would have called fidgeting when handled, bit of prancing and generally just being young and stupid?

They are also cheeky - Im sure mine knows exactly when he has his foot on the hose, he will invariably take it off when the hose is pointed in your direction not his :)

12-04-01, 12:08 AM
Well clarified rappie. I (cassie) am not an inexperienced rider and was not referring to "exuberence". My current ex-racehorse is actually very lazy and not at all prone to exuberence. But he simply walks over the top of me in the stable should I be in his way.

And he does exactly the same thing as you said rappie - with the hose! Very funny...!!

12-04-01, 01:43 AM
I did say I wasn't meaning to offend and even apologised in advance, but obviously wasted my time.....

The mere fact that a horse walks over the top of you shows a lack of relationship/understanding/experience on your part. Go and work in a racing stables and you will appreciate how these magnificent animals function and you will be better equipped in their transition. Their exuberance comes from accepting they have a job to do and it involves speed, so in anticipation, their heart beat accelerates and they get toey. Yes a lot of them dive into their feed bins, or push into you, or walk over the top of you IF you let them.

I guess it's all a matter of interpretation, as I know of some who qualify having ridden for 20 years as experienced, yet they don't have much idea at all. Even with all my exposure, I feel obliged to qualify my experience when asked as I still have so much to learn.

rappie (Guest)
12-04-01, 09:56 AM
jomac, i understand your clarification too...i really am quite cheery and not at all offended :)

but just clarifying my clarified point - the rudeness that i described is what i observed when i first got my horse, and it certainly didnt continue beyond the first week or so, with consistent handling. I was just acknowledging that it is a behavioural trait that may be acquired, as a note to someone who may or may not be aware of possible exracer attitude. I for one wouldnt pass up my OTTTB hissy fits and let's go attitude for anything because thats whats part of the fun, and all part of the experience!

12-04-01, 10:32 AM
Good on you Rappie!!:-) !! :-) Sounds like you are yet another satisfied customer.

Geraldine (Guest)
12-04-01, 01:07 PM
They are sweet horses, cheap, plentiful and pretty easy to train - but - if you want to get to a high level in the sport most of them will not be able to because mostly they lack the paces and the strength in the hocks to carry themselves. If you want to have a play around - fine - but if you want something serious you have to look at a warmblood. Sorry, that's life these days, the sport has just progressed so much in the last few years. (Got a way to go still though!)

Alison (Guest)
13-04-01, 11:08 AM
Just be 100% that it is of a good temperament. Some do come out of it with their brain frazzled, often these are sensitive/nervy horses to start with.
There are just oodles of wonderful racers around though, they are bred to run but the by-product is well conformed horses and
yep great to wash/worm/needle etc. My best x-racer did over
60 races and was a wonderful and sound horse, alot can depend on the trainer too.

Jordan (Guest)
13-04-01, 12:59 PM
I bought my TB off the track for $400 and she is the most wonderful horse. She has the best nature and is an absolute pleasure to own. She is currently training at medium level and has also done very well at the local ags shows (she has won champion leds and ridden). If you find one you like - go for it!

DavidO (Guest)
16-04-01, 10:59 AM
Dont want to sound nasty, but if you need to ask this question you are probably need to ask yourself if a horse of the track is really what you need.

Chelle (Guest)
16-04-01, 01:13 PM
DavidO - I didn't really "need" to ask the question although I think it is a fair one. Opinions of others who have been there themselves are so valuable and you do hear stories for and against. With time and patience I think that I would be able to re-educate an ex-racer myself but I have only seen them on the track or ex-racers in the arena after all the work has been done. Just don't want to jump in blind thats all. Thanks for your input - I will be thinking very hard before taking on any horse ex-racer or not.