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Question about race starts and soundness....

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  • Question about race starts and soundness....

    I have been searching the board for information and it seems quite a few people feel that if a horse can stay sound on the track for years and lots of starts then they should be sound for most activity. I am looking for an OTTB to just do lower level eventing and local shows. I bought my last OTTB without much luck in the soundness department. Sadly, she had to be euthanized way too young. I was devastated by this and so I am trying to figure out what I should look for in the way of starts. I am looking at a guy tomorrow that sounds nice but he has 50 starts.

    I don't have pictures for conformation yet, but based on his pedigree and number of starts what do you experts think??? The person that has him says he has always been very sound.

  • #2
    I've never worked with anything by Lil E. Tee. However, this really depends on each individual horse. If this guy has retired sound with no heat/swelling/pressure in his joints, I'd be surprised, but iron horses do exist! Most older horses are retired when they have slid too far down the racing ladder to be useful anymore, and often this is because of injury that was not allowed to heal. However, it's also possible that he's just had a good long career and the trainer wants him to go on to a new lifestyle BEFORE he hurts himself.

    Check him out.


    • #3
      I'll be interested in what others say.

      For resale, few starts and coming off the track young are selling points.

      In my limited sample size, I've had very good luck with older ones retiring sound. My 2 soundest event horses had 50-100 starts (1 raced until 9, steeplechased, and evented prelim into his late teens without an injection!) Both were fairly light built and light movers, so not hard on themselves.

      I just bought another one who raced from 4-6, 30x, retired sound, so fingers crossed.

      On the other hand, there is no denying that there is a lot of wear and tear associated with racing, and avoiding that can't hurt.

      One more thought, is that I'm not sure I buy the hype that slow implies good attitude. Some are no doubt slow and quiet and born to be show horses, but others are slow because they're resistant or not playing or not sound.

      Good luck!


      • #4
        Love his pedigree...just on a really quick look. Especially his sire line. Wow, Hawaii and What a Pleasure...two of my favs. Horses who I know who have those lines have all been pretty tough cookies.

        Honestly, I like them with more than 20 starts...if their legs are still pretty clean. All the OTTBs that I've owned who had significant soundness issues had less than 10 starts. Most of the really good event horses that I've known who were all OTTB had a lot of starts. Just my experience though. I think it honestly depends a lot on the horse.

        I would not run away from looking at this horse....

        ETA: I also wouldn't rule out a horse with less starts....you always have to look at the individual horse.
        Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jan. 17, 2010, 08:37 PM.
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


        • #5
          My last horse started about 75 times at the track! He went on to event up to the one * level and do training level at the age of 21! I evented him for 3 years and never missed an event due to lameness. He's done nearly 100 events in his eventing career after his racing one! He's about 24 now and came back from a injury in his stifle that laid him up for about a year and is back jumping and working as a school horse. His show days are probably over, but he's healthy and happy.

          I'm a firm believer that if they come off the track sound after a lot of starts they have legs made of iron!

          He also has the worst set of crooked front legs you have ever seen on a horse! And while we never led the way after dressage, he could jump the moon and run FAST!


          • #6
            My unscientific experience would be that it is shaped like a bell curve. But I do not know what ## are at each end. AKA - if they can hold up at the track for a long time, chances are they'll do fine for you. I had a horse who was on the track until he was 9 (started at 2). Played around with amatuer teen for two years, then went on to do Prelim until he had to be put down at 18 due to a pasture accident and the following infection.


            • #7
              We have seen young horses lightly raced that are slow but sound and and those that are not sound bc they were not talented, had to try too hard, and got hurt. We have seen iron horses with questionable looking legs (Ginny and I both have them) that are sound and eventing. We have also seen warhorses that are suffering from too many injections........so, IMHO there probably isn't a said and fast rule- look at the individual and his history....
              Be a part of the solution~ Adopt a thoroughbred!


              • #8
                I'm pretty sure Courageous Comet raced about 40 times. Sloopy ran for four years. One thing to consider when looking at a veteran campaigner...if they have been with one trainer for their entire career you're more likely to get honest feedback about the horse. Often the old war horses that have bounced from barn to barn have also been injected numerous times and it's very, very hard to get good information about them.
                On another note...Lil E.Tee was a sweetheart! I've met a few of his babies and they've been very easy, compliant horses.


                • #9
                  My TB ran 33 times, until the fall of his 5-year-old year. I bought him the following spring. He's now 18 and has done jumpers up to 3'6", Novice/Training eventing, and dressage (now schooling 2nd) in those 12 years, and has (knock wood) never had a joint injection, at least not while I have had him. He does tend to get a little sore coming back into work after being off for a while, but we've been able to maintain him so far with Cosequin ASU and Adequan/Legend as needed. He was recently just a little NQR behind, so I had one of the best lameness vets at school look at him, and he flexed very, very well behind. He's had a couple of x-rays in the past couple of years for various reasons (one was for an x-ray lab, another because he banged his knee in the trailer) and all of the joints we've looked at are incredibly clean.

                  No comments on your potential guy's pedigree, but I LOVE his name!

                  Adams Equine Wellness


                  • #10
                    DD has one that had 44 starts with 4 wins. He is now competing at advanced. His only injury was from a trailer wreck in '06.

                    We had another that had about 100 starts. We got him off the track at age 10. He has had a dressage career since.

                    DD's 4 star horse had 6 starts at 2 n 3. He was very slow and never outran a single horse. All of his injuries have happened in the pasture during his vacations. Dog attack, and other wierd things.


                    • #11
                      do the research too

                      my new girl had 67 starts and retired sound with clean as a whistle x-rays and she's built like a warmblood and 17 hands so go figure on the "make sure they are small and lightly built" theory.

                      search your horses name on equibase.com and look at each race record .pdf to see if he was ever scratched by vet or trainer and how many trainers/owners he went though. also look for any big gaps of "time off" after a scratch which would perhaps indicate a lay-up.

                      i did this all 67 times for each one of her races and found that she was raced 2-3 times a month for almost three years solid and only had two owners/trainers in her lifetime despite being a very mediocre racehorse (only two wins!)

                      i figured if she made it sound through all that then my little novice/training level goals and some foxhunting would be a walk in the park for her!

                      good luck! ottb's make it worth the gamble!
                      Jazz- 4.9.01 OTTB, loved since 12.6.09
                      Skip- 3.3.91 APHA, i miss you buddy


                      • #12
                        Get a really good PPE and know exactly what his issues are (and every horse has them!). I would not let the # of starts deter you. Often the ones who have lasted that long on the track are tough buggers! If they hold up for that long (and have not been medicated heavily to do so) then they will likely be fine for lower level stuff.

                        Again, almost every horse has something (or may develop something in the future) but I don't think that # of starts should be a deal breaker.

                        Goo luck in your search!
                        "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant


                        • #13
                          I've had 2 ottbs. My brother gave me the first one and warned me that he might not stay sound. I was just getting back into riding and fell in love him and couldn't resist. He did ok for about 6 months and we've had problems ever since. He started as a three year old and had 8 starts. He won 5 in row and them suddenly he started going downhill rapidly. I fiigured that was a good indication of when something went wrong.
                          My new horse I got in August for an absolute steal of deal was also three with 7 starts. Couldn't hit the board to save his life. Great temperment, sturdy, gorgeous, fantastic breeding, so far so good. I have high hopes for him. Of course I have not had him long enough to tell if he will stay sound. For me, he has such nice potential that he was worth the risk regardless.


                          • #14
                            A good prepurchase with x-rays is important. These old campaigners are often so tough that they will appear clean and flex clean with significant issues in their hocks, ankles etc that will show up in different work (especially if they need to jump bigger fences, etc). My guy that raced 8 times and was a total failure as a race horse has now been eventing for 10 years, through intermediate and is still sound and happy (hocks injected for the first time last year, when he was 17 years old). I like the 15-25 range, but not based on empirical evidence, just that it seems enough to "test" their soundness without breaking them down, but every horse is going to be an individual, as so many respondents have said.
                            OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                            • #15
                              OTTB Seller

                              From a sellers stand point to few starts and a spotted career may indicate a soundness issue. To many starts like high mileage on a car will in a buyers eyes de-value.

                              I look to buy horses who have a consistant form w/ 1-2 starts a month and no big gaps of time off. Allowing for weather, meet closures and age. Some 2yr old will get a start or then a bit of time off for bucked shins or to grow.
                              Also horses who run on the Turf have a short season and less starts.

                              I personally avoid older horses even the "Iron Warriers" since for me they don't re-sell. Although I have re-gifted a few who are still ticking like Swiss Watches.

                              It really depends if you are buying to re-sell or buying to keep.
                              Also H/J and eventers seem to have some diffrent criteria when shopping regarding OTTB's.

                              Regarding Pedigree Query for start stats. Don't its not current and only dependant upon someone updating it. Your best bet is Brisnet but you will have to buy the form. You can get horses complete lifetime starts up to the minute w/ post position, race lenght finish and comments. Worth the money


                              • #16
                                You can get that info on equibase for free now, complete with race charts and if they're currently entered to run.
                                "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                                My CANTER blog.


                                • Original Poster

                                  I am amazed at equibase. I pulled my mare's race record from brisnet but per suggestion I checked out equibase. It isn't in one neat report but I am going race by race. I love the reports. I feel like I get to know the horse just by reading.

                                  Does anyone see anything worrisome about his pedigree? I have been searching for most of the names and nothing much pops up. I didn't know squat when I bought my mare and she had some serious redflags like multiple Mr. P and RAN.

                                  He is not a resell project for me. My only goals are lower level fun. He is basically a free lease type thing. I am going to look at him today and I will post pictures if I get any good ones.


                                  • #18
                                    Caffeinated--link, please, to the free Equibase PP info.

                                    All I can find for individual horses costs $8.
                                    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                    Thread killer Extraordinaire


                                    • Original Poster

                                      At equibase, I did a search of the horse and it brings up the races with a "chart" link next to it. I did have to register but it was free and now I can look at the race charts.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                                        Caffeinated--link, please, to the free Equibase PP info.

                                        All I can find for individual horses costs $8.
                                        It's free on the home page if you put the horse name under "horse search" (in the left-hand menu) and click go.