Acquired: Barn / trainer
Posted Oct 28, 2015
I began working with off-the-track thoroughbred rescues last summer. My job was to exercise and handle the horses, to keep them from boredom. The main horse I worked with was Magic, a 14 year old.
The first thing to know about retired thoroughbred rescues is that their health is not guaranteed. Racehorses are trained early, and very few go on to have successful careers. The early training often leads to health issues later in life which affect hooves, bones, and joints. The particular horse I worked with had a bad back that will plague him the rest of his life.
Second, race horses do not receive much formal training, other than to run fast. When rescuing a race horse, you must be prepared to teach them ground manners and riding skills. However, thoroughbreds are extremely athletic and if properly trained, can make fantastic show horses, especially as hunter/jumpers.
Thoroughbreds, in comparison to quarter horses, can be very high-strung. They need regular exercise and work, as they were bred for speed and power. Thoroughbreds do not make good "lawn ornaments" and without proper exercise, will develop bad habits.
Thoroughbreds are not naturally great for trail riding, because they often want to lead the pack. Also, because of their high-strung nature, many can spook easily.
Overall, I would recommend rescued thoroughbreds for someone with a good amount of horse experience, and time to devote to riding. It can be tempting to rescue a thoroughbred right off the bat, given they are typically extremely inexpensive, however, keep in mind that vet bills can add up very quickly.