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  1. #1
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    Default Buying a Racehorse: WWYD? (long, sorry!)

    Sorry in advance for the novel! I was at Suffolk Downs a couple of weeks ago looking at a mare listed as “Trainer Owned” on the CANTER NE website (actually had seen a pic of her on COTH first and liked what I saw). I was able to take the mare out and walk/hand graze her for a good spell. She was nice enough but didn’t quite “do it for me” if you know what I mean? I’m looking for a pretty, gentle horse for very light trail riding (eventually) and possibly some noncompetitive lower level dressage a couple of days/week.

    Anyway, while there, a little chestnut head popped out of the stall on the end. Huge, kind eyes, darling little blaze, wanted nothing more than to put his head on your shoulder and get pats and scritches. Not mouthy at all (no vices either), very straight, clean legs, well letdown hocks, surprisingly well formed hooves, nice conformation over all, not butt high, perfect size for me (15.3 at most). His groom came over when he saw my friend and me looking (I'm sure can spot the suckers right away ) and said the horse (very recently gelded) was racing that afternoon and if he didn’t do well he would be up for sale. He is 4 years old, lightly raced (7 total to date). The best he’s done is a 4th. His trainer (same one as the original mare) said she could probably get him for me for under $2K if he didn’t do well that day.

    He came in 8th. Yay! I called the trainer and asked when I could pick him up. She said the owner wanted to try him “one more time” but that she would try to talk him out if it. Didn’t hear back and another week goes by. I get a notification on Tuesday (the 23rd) he was running again on Wednesday, the 24th (12 days from the last race). He came in 5th. :-)

    This time I paid to watch the race replay and OMG! The horse completely bugged out in the starting gate, ala Quality Road (reared, almost went over, sat back on his haunches, had to be pulled up by his head) except unlike Quality Road, he was allowed to continue on. If anyone wants to view this race please PM me for the details.

    He ran in the middle of the pack but shortly after the far turn he went from the rail to almost the outside of the track. What a hair raiser! The trainer had said the first time I saw the horse that he wasn’t a racehorse, would never be a racehorse and that she didn’t want him in her barn. Now I see what she means about him not being a “racehorse”. I had thought she meant he was just slow. He appears to be terrified out there!

    Again, I called the trainer thinking NOW the owner would want to unload the horse but – NO! He wants to “try one more time”. Is he nuts? The trainer completely agreed with me that the horse is a serious accident/injury waiting to happen. She also said if he was her horse, I’d already own him. So now I figure I’m going to have to get an owner’s license and hire another trainer to claim him. But then I start thinking, rather than risk the horse being injured in another race, just offer the owner the claiming price of $5,000. So my questions are, 1. am I insane? And 2. do horses like this transition well into being riding horses?

    Of course I am willing to give him all the time he needs to calm down and hire the appropriate professionals to restart him in 6 months or so. I can do a lot of the ground work myself but am a less than confident rider.



  2. #2
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    Default

    No expert here, but it looks like if you get him you'll have your work cut out for you. That being said, I think if you go with your gut and are willing to hire professionals and give him the time he needs, it will work out.

    I also try to live in a world of sunshine and rainbows so take that with a grain of salt
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  3. #3
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    Default

    I understand falling in love with a pretty face, but if you are a less than confident rider and want to ride your horse anytime soon - don't buy straight off the track, especially a horse with issues on the track.



  4. #4
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    If you want him and think the $5,000 is well spent, then go for it.

    JJ was an abysmal race horse, and at one of his races he wigged out and went running back to the stalls.

    He's a wonderful trail/fox hunt horse now, and is calm as the day is long. He just wasn't cut out for racing. Sounds like this guy is the same way.

    JJ's also 'small' at 15.2 h. Looks pretty big to me.....
    The plural of anecdote is not data.



  5. #5
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    Default

    Sorry but IMHO this is a BAD idea for you to buy this horse.

    You are NOT a confident rider. This horse has big issues.
    No matter how much time and effort and pro training you put on, this horse might never be good for you. OTTB are not all sweet puppy love to deal with.

    For 5K you can have a nice little trained 5-10yrs, Quarter horse/large poney/mix breed/little draft cross/whatever, that will do EVERYTHING you want.

    I’m looking for a pretty, gentle horse for very light trail riding (eventually) and possibly some noncompetitive lower level dressage a couple of days/week.
    but am a less than confident rider.
    Do you know how much it cost to hire the right professional to do the job? Do you know how long it can take? (if it ever works...)

    Buy something you can ride now and you can 'train' on your own. Then you'll have FUN paying a pro to teach you and your horse to go forward in your skills.



  6. #6
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    Default

    A horse who is coming unglued in the gate and trying to bolt for the gap can go one of two ways - either be the perfectest horse ever off the track, or he is showing you exactly what he is.
    Some of them are angels in the stall and on the ground, and are a whole different story with the tack on. Ask me, I have one of those.
    Dee
    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
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  7. #7
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    Default

    Honestly it could go both ways.

    I've seen horses who reportedly were terrified of racing calm down and become really, really good in different environments, without much extra work at all (if any). And others... if they're being belligerent about being confined in the gate, or are really difficult in traffic, yeah - could be indicative of a more difficult personality.

    I will say that if you are not a confident rider, and are looking for a horse to do light work and trail riding with, it sounds like the mare that didn't have "it" might be a better choice than the pretty sparkly one whose eyes glinted in the sun at you Not to poke, but really, it's a lot like dating. The guys who look all hot and sexy at the beach, with their six pack abs and tans, are rarely the ones you really want to settle down with long term. They're fun and exciting, and make you feel awesome for a little while, but then they become lots and lots of work. Meanwhile the nice guy who you may not have noticed initially or thought much about after your first encounter is the one who would be bringing you breakfast in bed and rubbing your feet, and doesn't mind if you have a bad day or act goofy once in a while.

    Horses can be kind of the same. Sometimes it pays to control the "oh! that's the ONE!" response a bit.

    Or maybe neither of these is quite right and it's worthwhile to keep looking. If you do keep looking - I would look more at re-started horses than horses still at the track, given what your needs/wants are.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

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  8. #8
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    It might not even be terror, he might just HATE his job and be trying to demonstrate exactly how much. On the plus side, he might like another line of work and be an angel. On the down side, you now know what he does to express his displeasure with a situation.

    Or then again, he could have been having a bad day. Quality Road got over himself his next race. Have you watched other videos to see if this was normal or just a really off day?

    If the mare was everything you wanted on paper and you just didn't feel the 'spark', whatever that is, you might want to really think about her. If you think $5k and having a horse who's more on the reactive side if worth the pretty, it can't hurt to make the owner an offer.



  9. #9
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    No your not insane just lovestruck.....which is fine!! It sounds like you are financially able to send this guy to training and to get him where he needs to be for you. Personally, I would buy him but I am a sucker too
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  10. #10
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    Mar. 23, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by caffeinated View Post
    Honestly it could go both ways.

    I've seen horses who reportedly were terrified of racing calm down and become really, really good in different environments, without much extra work at all (if any). And others... if they're being belligerent about being confined in the gate, or are really difficult in traffic, yeah - could be indicative of a more difficult personality.

    I will say that if you are not a confident rider, and are looking for a horse to do light work and trail riding with, it sounds like the mare that didn't have "it" might be a better choice than the pretty sparkly one whose eyes glinted in the sun at you Not to poke, but really, it's a lot like dating. The guys who look all hot and sexy at the beach, with their six pack abs and tans, are rarely the ones you really want to settle down with long term. They're fun and exciting, and make you feel awesome for a little while, but then they become lots and lots of work. Meanwhile the nice guy who you may not have noticed initially or thought much about after your first encounter is the one who would be bringing you breakfast in bed and rubbing your feet, and doesn't mind if you have a bad day or act goofy once in a while.

    Horses can be kind of the same. Sometimes it pays to control the "oh! that's the ONE!" response a bit.

    Or maybe neither of these is quite right and it's worthwhile to keep looking. If you do keep looking - I would look more at re-started horses than horses still at the track, given what your needs/wants are.
    This is very wise advice from caffeinated.

    Because you are not a confident rider (and I rather fit into this category myself), I agree that you might feel a lot more comfortable looking at horses that are already off the track and restarted. No guessing then.



  11. #11
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    some horses are just not cut out for the track. Plain as that.
    I don't think the behavior on the track is any indication that he won't be a good trailbuddy. Many horses ahve an issue with the gate. (Monty Roberts made a pretty good buck selling those blankets) and being close quarters with other horses...


    Anyhow, it's really a matter if you think the 5k are well spend. Every time the gate opens it's a risk. (which since I am not familiar with the ins and outs of claiming, would he not have to be entered in a race for you to claim him, thus you'd buy him for 5k, sound or broke?)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  12. #12
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    Default

    I agree with the above posters; buying a horse off the track is not always the best choice for someone not familiar with the issues you might be faced with. Granted, most of them are LOVELY and wonderful and easy, but the one that is not all of the above and in fact is the polar opposite is easy to ruin - by that I mean in the wrong hands they can become pushy and ill mannered and big whiny babies and scare the pants off you. You have to be able to think faster than they do. That gives them the security that they need. If you feel you can handle a Pandora's Box, go for it. There is nothing as rewarding as that moment when it clicks, and I am a huge fan of the OTTB and its potential outside the racetrack.
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  13. #13

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    I would take a look at his pedigree -- if you have some of the known difficult horses in there up close (like Halo thru a couple of his offspring, for instance) then that can help you make a decision.

    I just wouldn't buy as a claimer for that much. Even if you have money to burn, it's still wise to be frugal. You need to get the horse vetted, as well. You don't know what kind of issues he has, and all race horses off the track have something. It might be minor, but you should know beforehand.

    In my experience, a horse that rears will do it again. You sound like the kind of rider I am, and frankly, an unknown green TB can have a spazz moment, which will shake your confidence. A OTTB mare at my barn, who I really liked, and who seemed as sweet as pie, just dumped her rider and broke her wrist because she suddenly spazzed out. Turns out she's sore in the kidneys, but still, it was completely unexpected and she bucked, reared, and was pretty dangerous.

    Being a cynic, geldings that failed on the track are being given away. Even $2000 sounds high to me.

    My advice: if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Let the owner decide to get rid of the horse, and get it for a reasonable amount of money. Just make sure everyone has your phone number and be ready to move when they are. What's another week, or a month, if it's the right horse for you? And please vet check, it's worth it.

    Edit: I have had too many "oooh that's the one!!" moments that have turned out badly. Resist the urge.



  14. #14
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    I wouldn't let anyone know you were contemplating claiming him for $5K.

    The trainer needs to convince the owner that no one who saw his last performance will claim him, either. If he's not going to race, he has no value for anyone..... but you.
    The armchair saddler
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    I wouldn't let anyone know you were contemplating claiming him for $5K.

    The trainer needs to convince the owner that no one who saw his last performance will claim him, either. If he's not going to race, he has no value for anyone..... but you.
    LOL, so true!

    put an offer for 1500 on the table, pre-race, once the bell rings the price goes down!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  16. #16
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    Sit in the weeds and wait for the end of the season...if he is still sound he may be available.

    Frankly, there are enough issues with horses, I'd be going for one that was more like an 8 out of ten than , say, a 5 out of ten. Temperament is the most improtant one to me.



  17. #17
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    So there's a difference between rescuing your love at first site and marrying your BFF.

    You could rescue the little guy, turn him out for a while and let him get fat and happy. In the mean time, work on yourself to learn alot about ground training and maybe lease a consistent horse to learn and get more confident on.
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  18. #18
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    If a good friend of mine asked me what you asked in your post I would respond with an emphatic NO. Buying a troubled horse off the track is folly. Buying/claiming it for $5000 is even more absurd. Buying it for someone who describes herself as not a confident rider is a setup for serious disaster.

    You have no idea why this horse is acting up. For all you know there is something seriously wrong with him physically that is causing him to act out when he is on the track. Or he could just not have a good mind and be prone to spooking or panicking.

    I'm not going to deny that there is a chance the horse could end up being decent, but you will most likely have to invest in months of training (on top of the purchase price, which even at $1500 would be too much) before you will know. What will you do if you end up with a horse with a serious physical or mental problem? Or a horse that is forever (or for many years) a pro-ride due to behavior issues?

    For reference, I love OTTBs and retrain a couple of horses off the track each year. I would absolutely pass on a horse with this history even for free. I'm a confident rider and comfortable with green horses and OTTBs but I'm not about to risk my own safety--or getting stuck with a horse with serious mental or physical problems--on the remote chance that a horse that comes unglued at the track might end up as a nice riding horse.

    IME temperament is the #1 predictor of success as a riding horse for OTTBs.
    Last edited by BeeHoney; Aug. 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM.



  19. #19
    rcloisonne is online now Grand Prix Premium Member
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    Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond! I especially appreciate input from those with racehorse and track experience so I’ll sorta know what to expect.

    The original horse I looked at (a nearly black mare) is a stunner looks wise. Actually more handsome than the little chestnut gelding. Sound and retrained she would probably fetch a pretty penny. She looks more like a warmblood than a TB, very plump, muscular and over 16H. However, she needs surgery on a knee, a rather large bone “chip” (chunk?) that looks worse to me than the ad implies. She was also very sore from having been taken out of shoes and trimmed too short, IMO. That any experienced farrier would trim a horse this short just coming out of shoes is a whole ‘nother thread so I won’t go there.

    I didn’t not respond to her because of the injury. I’ve found if I don’t get "that feeling" right from the git go, it will never happen. I owned very beautiful mare for 7 long years I never quite clicked with either, tried to tell myself I’d learn to love her but it never happened. Don’t want to repeat that.

    Yes, I realize getting a QH or draft cross or whatever already trained would be the smart thing. However, I rarely do the smart thing! The best horse I ever owned I couldn’t ride. He cleaned up at the breed shows and was very competitive at open, rated shows against all breeds. Of course, not with me riding. He and I had the best possible relationship and I would give everything I own to have him back (he was PTS over 7 years ago). It was love at first sight with him too and I never regretted the purchase. Even though I was never good enough to ride him, he was the joy of my life.

    So, I think I’ll give this new boy a chance since some of you believe he could be all that. He seems to be a sweetheart. From what I gather from the trainer, what happened the other day is typical for him but I will try to download and review more of his races, if possible. The groom mentioned he was a nervous horse “that tries the best he can, he just can’t do it”.

    Yes, I agree it’s ridiculous to pay $5,000 but I don’t want him to get hurt. There was another lovely little claimer I followed for almost three years (and became attached to) that wound up being run into the ground, vanned off and ultimately euthanized (CANTER had to rescue her). I kicked myself for months for not trying to claim her and give her an easier life. No, I’m not against racing per se, just those that run sore or otherwise unsuitable horses on a near weekly basis.

    I'm not sure about his pedigree. I don't want to post it here because the horse really isn't for sale. If anyone is interested, please PM me.

    Again, thanks so much!



  20. #20
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    ^^^^ What BeeHoney said x 100. Just say NO.

    Touch base with CANTER or another TB non-profit about finding a good egg OTTB who is sound enough for light trail riding, etc. and has already been off the track for a while.

    For $5000 - $7500 in this economy with a little digging you can get a steal of a deal on a fairly well-made local show horse that can do way more than light trail riding; why would you blow that kind of $$$ on a horse that in all probability is going to have some serious physical issues?

    A gate freak-out and bolting out on the track are a giant red alert that something is really, really, off-kilter.

    There are dozens of TBs with awesome fun personalities. Get in touch with a TB non-profit and give a good home to a good retiree who's up for light riding and has been off the track for a bit.



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