Is an Exracer the Right Horse for You
 by Karen McNeill-Boonstoppel


What is it about the high-spirited, athletic, big-hearted ex-racer that draws the attention of so many equestrian enthusiasts? More importantly one might ask, "Who is suited to own, train, or mount an ex-racer"? The ex-racer is a breed within itself. From the moment the foal is born to the day that it goes into training, an ex-racer is not handled nor trained in the same fashion that other young horses are. Racing is a sport and the ex-racer is a commodity. So how can one determine whether an ex-racer is a suitable mount? Below are some questions and answers to use as a guide to whether an ex-racer is a suitable mount for you.

Q. What is your riding ability?

A. Unless you are an intermediate rider with a minimum of several years training experience I wouldnít suggest that you take on the challenges of an ex-racer. The ex-racer has no formal training other than what they have learned on the track. The old saying "A green rider with a

green horse Ė not a good match" is oh, so true.

Q. Style of riding?

A. When you are considering an ex-racer, you need to know what has transacted in their life previously. Where they injured on the track; bowed tendon; pulled suspensory, chips in the knees or ankles? just to name a few. Or, was it that they just didnít have the heart to run? Depending on the style of riding you prefer is critical to whether or not an ex-racer with an old injury will make a suitable mount. Many ex-racers with injuries require layoff time in order to heal properly.

Q. Unrealistic goals and expectations!

A. Although not impossible, it is highly improbable that you will take an ex-racer from the track one week and have that same ex-racer in the show ring the next week. Since the life of an ex-racer is completely different off the track, there needs to be sufficient let-down time in order for the ex-racer to be able to adjust. This can take anywhere from several months up to and beyond a year. Completely depends on the personality of the ex-racer. The majority of the ex-racers life is spent in a stall so they donít know what outside time is. They are groomed, tacked up, checked by the veterinarian, etc. all in privacy of their stall. Most ex-racers eat a minimum of four meals a day. Ask yourself this question?, can I afford to have a horse that is only going to be a pasture puff for the next several months? You certainly can do ground training such as teaching the ex-racer the meaning of "WHOA", but the ex-racer needs time to adjust to his new environment and life.

Q. What are your personality traits?

A. It has been my experience that shy, non-aggressive, fearful riders do not make suitable mounts for an ex-racer. The rider needs to be confident and knowledgeable enough to expect the unexpected.

As you have read through the questions and answers as to whether or not an ex-racer is a suitable mount, please keep in mind that these are only my opinions from years of experience. I have seen many riders who have acquired an ex-racer only to be severely injured because of their lack of experience and knowledge when handling an ex-racer. If you truly wish to own an ex-racer and do not have the experience and knowledge then there is no harm in seeking out a professional trainer who can assist you. Always remember, "Itís better to be safe then sorry later".