Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A "Big" Fundraiser?

A few days ago a friend of the family called Dan and I, asking if we would be interested in finding a home for his horse. We went down to look at him and take pictures, hoping we could spread the word about him and find him a loving family.

While I was informing the horse's owner that I would call a few friends and see if they were interested, he gave me an interesting idea. He knows about the rescues we have done in the past and suggested that I take this horse to my farm, retrain him, and sell him to help fund our rescues.


Here is the background on the horse in question...

--> He is a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding.
--> He was a racehorse and earned over $84,000 on the track.
--> His owner says that he is 17.2 hands tall. I haven't measured him yet, but he is an honest 17, there is no doubt in my mind. If he really is as tall as his owner says, that means that the highest point of his back just about his shoulder is 5'10" - he's a giant! For those of you who think Faith is big, this guy is 3 inches taller!
--> He has been officially retired from racing since... Thursday. Ugh...
--> He supposedly raced sound and never had any lameness problems. However, he did have a minor injury when he was younger and his left rear hock has been pinfired. That is not a big concern of mine.
--> He has decent conformation for a Thoroughbred. He has a nice shoulder and hip to him, as well as clean legs. I think he would make a nice hunter/jumper or field hunter. (I will post better body pictures of him tomorrow and everyone can help me analyze him conformationally!)

Here is my background...

--> I have worked with four or five off-track Thoroughbreds before, the last being at least 5 years ago.
--> My barn is currently full and I am in the process of trying to sell one of my show horses. (Anyone interested in a beautiful buckskin Morgan gelding!?)
--> I am afraid of heights. :-)

I really don't know what to do now. So I'm asking our loyal readers, what do you think I should do?!



  1. You saved Faith and Linus and now you're taking in the Pet. You can do ANYTHING.
    I'd go for it. It'd be a fun project! I'd do it! :)
    He's a cute little guy. I mean big guy!

  2. Wow, look at those legs!
    Is there some reason his current owners cannot put 60 days on him, sell him, and donate the sale money to your barn?

  3. try CANTER the letters stand for the communication alliance to network thoroughbred ex-racehorses. Or do they have to come right from the track?

  4. I would contact David Sears and see if one of his students would want to help you out with the retraining. He might also have a potential list of interested people :)

    Can you help me train my horse to ride myself? The two I rescued last year. I've ended up keeping them - but really want to ride them. Yikes!

    Good luck! If I lived near you I'd be helping you out :)

  5. As long as he is sane and a [relatively] easy keeper I say hold onto him as a short-term project...though there is always the risk of falling in love and keeping him as a long-term friend! A guy with his looks and size can definitely find a home doing some jumping!

  6. What's his registered name?

  7. I think you can do it. He's very handsome.

    I wish it were in any way practical for me to buy the Morgan. The first horse I ever rode (in a real lesson, anyway) was a Morgan, so I have a real soft spot for them.

  8. Have you ever worked with a horse straight off the track? I've never done it personally, but I have read a lot about it. There are some wonderful online artciles on the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption website (
    It definitely sounds like a lot of work, so just make sure you're up for the challenge!
    Otherwise, why don't the owners donate the horse to CANTER or New Vocations? Both groups do an amazing job with OTTBS.

  9. Do it. He deserves it.

  10. He is a nice big boy, and has a nice shoulder. He is built a little under, so I would say he would make a suitable dressage horse. I have helped rehab a few OTTB's and am currently working on my 3yr old (pictured left). One thing I would keep in mind that pinfiring can leave weakness in a joint. I would suggest that if you do take him on, do not advertise him as a jumper. These horses (especially those that have raced) break down quickly. I would not be suprised if athritis has already set in his hock. I have two very good friends who are currently rehabbing 4 OTTB's each, and none of them can be sold as jumpers. They are all VERY talented and can do the work with out a problem- but a jumping home can advance deterioration in their joints rapidly. If you have a lesson program, I suggest keeping him on- but some basic riding work into him and use him as an advanced horse for your students. The thing with the TB's (as I am sure you know) is that all they want to do is have a job. I would hold onto him, and make him a project- with good training- he could make a wonderful 1st level dressage mount for a taller person. Good luck with him!!!

  11. I know nothing about rehabbing an OTTB, so I'm no help. However, realistically you would have to count the $$$ of rehabbing him, how long it would take, and what you would profit by doing it....and, in the current horse market, any profit at all?

    My guess is that the profit would not be that much. Then again, the satisfaction of rehabbing a perfectly good horse into a useful post-track vocation is priceless!

    Also, if you are full, where are you going to put him? I've heard that OTTB's need about 2-3 months just to rest from the stresses of racing, but not sure if that's true?

  12. julie, what about having him trained for carriage ? as for a name.. he has almost the same blaze that a horse i knew many yrs ago he was also a throughbred racer. but was HATEFUL to men. his name was Goucho Tom. he was gorgeous when he jumped in lessons and he had a forward expression on his face ;];] i think he was almost 16 hds. liver chestnut. I WOULD STICK W/ FUNDRAISING. YOU HAVE ENOUGH MOUTHS TO FEED !!!!! gosh.. next thing we will read it that you now took in pheasant / turkeys !! if you wallet was as big as your heart.. !!! god love you and dan ;;];];];]

  13. Is it a TB thing the wicked high withers?

  14. I would say that the OTTB part is the last thing I'd worry about if I were you. I took one that had been off the track for maybe two months and the issues I had with him were mainly in building his trust and confidence in people. If you're afraid of heights, there is always wearing a pair of VERY dark glasses and carrying something around in case of nosebleeds.

    Tee hee.

    AND you may need a larger mounting block. (not "Tee hee." Being serious here. You did have to stand on a block to groom Miss Faith for her show, right? ;o)

    In my view, the finest horse in the world is a TB and the most deserving of horses is an ex-racer. Tranquility Farm also has a wonderful *.pdf to download on retraining and reschooling the ex-racer, as well. I've got the book written by the people at New Vocations and it's also excellent. (Tranquility Farm Web site is

    I'd say go for it! You have done such a wonderful job with horses that come with many questions. TBs from the track have lived a thousand lifetimes and deserve the chance to spend the rest of their lives doing what they do best: Trying their hearts out for their owners.

    As for the rest after the track, mostly what they need is the chance to decompress AND to eat lots of grass hay so the "equine equivalent of jet fuel" can leave their system and they can settle into a new life. Some TBs are very "uncomplicated" and adjust perfectly fine. You'll be able to figure out "Biggie's" personality quickly.