Why do they do that? Overcoming certain ex-racehorse behaviours *H&H Plus*

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  • While most former racehorse can become excellent riding horses after their racing career, there are some common less desirable behaviours that may need retraining. So what lies behind these behaviours and how can they be overcome? Stephanie Bateman finds out...

    The throughbred is a versatile and intelligent breed, with many racehorses able to turn their hooves to a range of new skills in the right hands after finishing their racing careers. While a former racehorse will not be suitable for every rider and there are some situations that may initially prove challenging for these equines, with patient retraining most former racehorses can make delightful riding horses.

    “Retired racehorses can make fantastic all-rounders for those who take the time and have the experience to help them transition,” says Gillian Carlisle, chief executive of the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre. “Furthermore, they can be extremely affectionate and thrive on human interaction.”

    “Ex-racehorses are truly versatile, intelligent, quick learners, very giving and stoic animals,” says Mary Frances of Moorcroft Equine Rehabilitation Centre. “It is very rewarding to give them a new life after racing, to rehabilitate their injuries and strains and to watch them grow into healthy, happy horses.”

    Rowena Cook, who runs a rehabilitation and training centre, Equine Management and Training, with her husband Fred, adds: “The thoroughbred is such a versatile breed, able to turn its hoof to any discipline. Observe at any race meeting and most of the horses are extremely well-behaved and quite relaxed about proceedings. It’s when they are removed from their usual surroundings that they become anxious.

    “Once a horse settles into his new life with the right management both in and out of the stable, these issues melt away and you are left with a horse that is used to working in company and in open spaces, and being tied up for the farrier; one that loads well, generally has good stable manners and of course is used to spending more time in than out. He will be athletic, easy to get fit and keep fit with great stamina.

    “Thoroughbreds are quick learning, forward thinking, enthusiastic horses – they have good brains and are, in the main, extremely trainable.”

    So what are the most common challenges owners of former racehorses face and what is the best way to resolve them? H&H explains…