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A guide to buying and keeping ex-racehorses

Searching on the Horsemart website for cheap horses for sale? One great way of saving money and taking on an exceptional horse is to consider ex-racehorses for sale. 

After several years of competition, an ex racehorse deserves a good home to enjoy a richly deserved retirement – and it’s often cheaper than you might think to take ownership of an ex-racehorse; in fact many of these horses for sale for under £1000 are available on our website.
You can learn a little more about the benefits of taking on ex racehorses by reading the information provided in the guide below.
Deciding on whether to purchase an ex-racehorse
Although some ex-racehorses can be deemed cheap horses for sale in terms of initial sale price, it’s incredibly important to remember that in terms of time commitment and exercising, they can be very expensive indeed. 
You should never take on an ex-racehorse without any idea of exactly what you’re getting into – remember, these horses for sale are used to an incredibly active lifestyle, so you will need to put plenty of time aside to allow a Thoroughbred racehorse a little time to stretch the legs.
And you’ll need to consider your budget very carefully. Ex-racehorses may be relatively cheap to rehome, but the long term costs can be significant. Racehorses are a bundle of energy and due to their active nature, feeding and veterinary costs can be higher than with more docile horses. 
If you remain in any doubt as to the demands involved in caring for an ex-racehorse, it may be best to consider the compromise option of a horse for loan scheme. This will allow you to assume responsibility for the maintenance of an ex racehorse for a set period without the commitment of full ownership – offering you an extended time to analyse the pros and cons of owning an ex-racehorse against other cheap horses for sale.
In summary, ex-racehorses can be the perfect option for anyone looking for cheap horses on the marketplace – many will need rehousing on retirement, yet will still have plenty of years left to become a much loved companion. However, before browsing these cheap horses for sale, it’s essential to remember that this isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly, as inexperienced horse owners may find the challenges of handling a retired Thoroughbred a bridge too far.
Blogger’s advice
Horsemart reader and blogger Charlotte Pordage gives us some of her tips on how to retrain an ex-racehorse.
Retraining an ex-racehorse can be very rewarding but requires an experienced and understanding rider. Ex-racehorses have no concept of the aids given to normal riding horses and are used to their riders being out of the saddle rather than actually sitting on their backs.
Retraining is usually a long process, sometimes longer than backing a youngster, as you have to undo everything that the horse has already learnt and teach them something completely new. Remember all an ex-racehorse knows is galloping!
When I first started riding my ex-racehorse, Luke, he had virtually no topline and weak hindquarters. He was used to going in a hollow outline, with his head in the air and hind legs trailing out behind him, the typical posture of an ex-racehorse. He was also very stiff on his left rein, even attempting to flex right on bends, so I needed to do more on that rein to even him up.
He was prone to rushing and throwing his head up, particularly after cantering, and I soon realised that this was his way of trying to evade doing work. The best thing to do in this situation was to relax and simply ride him through it; if I tensed up and tightened my grip on the reins he would just go faster, as racehorses are taught to lean into the pressure of the jockey's hands.
Over a period of nearly a year, I used a combination of schooling and lunging to encourage Luke to lower his head and work in a rounder outline. Circles, serpentines, transitions and lateral work were all incorporated into our schooling sessions to improve his suppleness and engage his hindquarters. During schooling, frequent breaks were essential to ensure he wasn't tempted to act up, as he wasn't physically strong enough to carry himself for long periods.
When lunging, I used either side reins or a chambon to guide Luke’s head downwards and stretch the muscles along the top of his neck and along his back. It is important that side reins and other training aids are not too tight so that the horse’s head is not pulled or forced into position.
The improvement in Luke has been huge and he is working nicely on the bit now, although there’s still a lot of work to be done. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience and that it helps you with your own ex-racehorse!