Now is the time of year that I buy a new crop of OTTBs to begin training as event horses.
I've had several extremely successful upper level OTTBs. I love them dearly. But I always think about their breeders, former owners, trainers, etc.. do they ever wonder where their horse has gone & what it is doing? I would imagine so, sometimes if I have a horse that is winning and doing very well I wonder if the breeders would like to hear how well their horse is doing in a different career.
Maybe I am just overemotional -- to this day I still bring carrots to the first horse I ever rode when I was 5
I LOVE hearing how any and all of the TB's I've ever worked with/own/bred are doing, even when the news isn't so good, at least I know. I try to keep people updated on horses I've bought from them, most are glad to hear how they're doing.
My friend is a trainer/breeder and she keeps up on many of the ones she's sold on after racing. Several of hers are back on the east coast now for eventing etc. I can't remember the trainers name, but one of hers is with some big trainer out there. I loved that horse when he was running.
I became good friends with a few trainers/breeders when I got their horses after they were done racing and then started tracing their histories. Those trainers/breeders were thrilled to hear how those horses lives had changed.
Many do, some don't. I find that even if the "breeder" sometimes doesn't wonder about them the handlers who have dealt with them do. For some operations, they breed 100 horses a season and they don't interact with the animals. OTOH, the weanling and yearling managers and handlers at farms may recall certain individuals. The folks who break and start babies may be interested too. Sadly most such folks toil in anonymity, never getting their names on programs or official papers.
As for trainers, it depends as well. Some trainers have over 100 horses in their call for years on end. They may remember some but most of the hands on work is done by assistants, who might recall more and have more interest. On the flip side, remember this. Most purchases are made with a trainer as advisor or agent. If Trainer A bid $250+k of client's money on a beast that couldn't outrun a fat man, he may really not care that said horse is now jumping small courses. That horse, to him was a loss, a disappointment and may have cost him his relationship with the client!
Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique
I just "found" a little horse that I sold two yrs ago... he is now in training as a hunter and is showing tons of potential... I couldnt be happier, I worked hard to find him a good home... I try to keep tabs on quite a few we have bred or trained and I have rehomed once they are finished racing.
I find that even if the "breeder" sometimes doesn't wonder about them the handlers who have dealt with them do. For some operations, they breed 100 horses a season and they don't interact with the animals. OTOH, the weanling and yearling managers and handlers at farms may recall certain individuals. The folks who break and start babies may be interested too. Sadly most such folks toil in anonymity, never getting their names on programs or official papers.
This is very true. I've done mare care for several "breeders" who couldn't pick their own horses out of a line up. Many of them never even saw the foals they bred. If you called them up and told them the horse they bred is now a champion A circuit hunter or won Rolex, they wouldn't know the difference. On the other hand, I wonder all the time about the babies I raised and would be tickled to death to hear updates...
Just a side note, in my experience, when former connections do care about where their horses are now, their new careers often get grossly over exaggerated on the backside. It's incredibly cute. I've overheard people saying their cheap claimer who bowed went on to be shortlisted for the Olympic team, when really the horse only won a ribbon at a local jumper show. I think it's sweet when the connections take that much pride in their old horses, even if they are just telling tall tales.
Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO
It's too bad that it's so hard to track down the many people who really would like to hear about old charges. Peope like grooms, pony girls at training centers, gallop riders etc. They were the ones who really knew the horses.
Commercial breeders are hoping for a nice horse to sell. Most are not hands on horsemen, though many do appreicate knowing that the foal they created is someplace happy and with a purpose.
I advise folks to reach out to any past "persons in the life" of their OTTB but do so with the understanding that they may not get a response, or one they expected.
Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique
If you don't get a response from a trainer or breeder, or even if you do, why not add the information to the pedigree query database? It is primarily used by racing people as a free way to do pedigree research, but anyone can add information to the info section, and there are lots of people in the industry who do go looking for their old horses. I wouldn't list every ribbon, but you can mention that the horse has a new career. Try to be careful about accuracy as to the horses's name and the information you post so as to maintain the integrity of the database.
That way, if a former exercise rider, trainer or breeder looks up the horse, they'll see that they went on to a new career. Every story like that encourages owners to take an interest.
The cool thing about eventing is that it does create a performance and ownership record through the passport. I was able to connect with former owners of an ex-eventer belonging to a friend. They were similirly pleased to hear he was still around.
I was just over at Golden Gate this past weekend catching up with trainers and showing pictures of their retirees in their new home. I have made some very good friends at the track from doing just that. I find the smaller outfits tend to be very pleased to hear how their old charges are doing then there are other trainers who can't remember the horses in question. I have never had anything but a good experience talking with the trainers, it's fun to trade stories. I keep tabs of all the horses I have had in ownerships, mind you it's a small number so it's pretty easy to do.
I train a big barn 30+ horses. I find them all homes when they are done racing. I love to hear what they are doing. One of mine is now a show hunter that is owned by a COTHer. Maybe some others are as well. I never give a horse away, however. Every life has a value, if you cannot afford to pay a token amount, I assume that you will not be able to take on the financial burden of horse ownership. I usually just ask a bit more than the meat man.
I love to hear where my babies have gone after they leave here and I cant follow their race careers anymore. I recently received an email about one colt (now a gelding) who is learning to be a n Eventer but in the meantime is being trail ridden and has even gotten to play in the ocean! The pictures kept me smiling all day!
As a breeder, I'd love to know where my horses went -- although I also know there are others who may not be as interested. I try to send contact information with horses we sell, intending that it stay with them when they are re-sold, but it doesn't always work. I try to track ours via equineline.com & the internet, but some just seem to fall off the face of the earth & you worry.
We got an email out of the blue from the woman who was our stallion's exercise rider in his heyday, when he was running successfully in graded stakes company. She wanted us to know that should things go badly, he always had a home with her. We exchanged emails & learned a lot about his younger days.
I know of another stallion whose owners' dreams were bigger than their bankroll. They stuck him in some farmer's back lot without much shelter, because they couldn't afford anything else. The stallion had a big-name trainer, but he wasn't a big-time horse in that trainer's 20+ year training career.
And yet, when I called the trainer, he recalled the horse & that his exercise rider loved that horse despite the fact everyone else thought the colt was crazy. The owner had moved the horse to a different trainer at some point, and the trainer I contacted had been out of touch with him for years. Even so, he stepped in & tried to help re-home the horse himself. [The horse is now safe.]
It never hurts to try, but don't take it personally if you don't succeed. Sometimes that horse's "person" isn't listed on any Jockey Club records.
I kept the old owner updated on my old OTTB. This was easy, as he still had horses with the trainer and my husband worked there. The owner was really happy to hear that the horse had a good home and was doing well. I'm going to send the breeder of my current show hunter an email right now and let her know how the horse did this year, as she still owns the dam.
I know people who would be thrilled to hear--I know people who couldn't care less. It kind of like asking how the people of Chicago feel about a TV show. You may get a consensus but not everyone will agree. Those 30,000 plus TB foals every year probably have 20,000 different breeders who come to it with different mindsets and backgrounds and motivations. All you can do is let them know and if they don't care, so be it, but if they do, you may make someone's day.
As an example, I know people who bred a colt who was always a little sickly and problematic to the point where the farm manager (who I thought was a bit nutty) wanted to put him down. They ignored her, tried to get him to the races but couldn't. They gave him to a family with great references but you really never know and its unrealistic to expect busy people to check on all their former horses especially when they now number a couple of dozen. Anyway when they got pictures a few years later of him popping over little crossrails for the Mom and packing around her 10 year old in a Western saddle along with an email describing his life and how much he meant to them, you would have thought they won the Breeders Cup they were so proud.
I have been racing/breeding for thirty years...I hate to admit it but it just occured to me about 6 years ago where are my ex charges?...I went on a mission to find them and decided that I needed to be realistic...no farm and not alot of $$...I searched and with the help of others found two of them in need of help and got them back...now I am broke but can sleep better...would love to know where the rest are and have posted my email on their Pedigree Queery...my current charges are bred to race and have ReRun stickers on all their foal certs just in case....it's a small step but the best I can do..their broodmares will be taken care of and are in my will also...I am still searching for Sunset Hero if anyone knows of him I'll take him back.
Haven't signed on in a long time...great original post.
I will speak for myself as a breeder (I do not own just sell) anyway, I DO try and make sure where my horses go after they race. So far two have gone to Oregon, one as a riding horse the other a brooodmare. We had one that made $120,000 who is also a riding horse back East, he and his siblings have excellent temperament. And one that is a hunter jumper...he was very tall and gorgeous. Another is also a broodmare back East.
I believe it is important to be a responsible breeder. We only have 2 to 4 quality mares at a time and try and keep it small. To me it is best to have quality OVER quanity. Right now we have one 3 year old in training and 3 two year olds....1 racing and two in training.
We do care and I follow my "babies" as best I can. I have bought back those that were not in good spots and I love finding them new homes and new careers. We even handle and raise them with an eye towrds their second career. Love to hear success stories and plan to add a web page with pictures of them and their new owners.... I'm following one right now who has been passed around quite a bit - have offered to buy her from her last 2 owners, but no luck so far. Will claim her if I can, but she is moving around too much and by the time I find her it's too late to arrange the claim....