Owning an ex racehorse is becoming popular at every level, from the leisure rider up to top level competition. Ownership of an ex racehorse can be a roller coaster of emotions, but they give so much pleasure, joy and happiness and make you feel proud of your relationship together. The following information aims to give you some advice regarding your initial considerations when deciding to take on an ex racehorse together with our range of feeds suitable for the retired Thoroughbred.
THE WAY FORWARD
CHOOSING THE RIGHT HORSE
The Thoroughbred is often thought of as a tricky character, but like all breeds, they are individuals and with correct management and nutritional advice, they can be enjoyable and rewarding. Firstly, it is important that you are honest with yourself regarding your level of ability and what you intend to do with your new companion.It is always advisable to purchase an ex racehorse from a reputable yard or rehoming centre, who will be able to match you with the right individual for your level of ability. Whilst you must make every effort to find out all you can about your horse's upbringing, traits, and injuries, do not let injuries put you off, especially if you will not be aiming for Badminton! Tendon injuries that have been managed properly do recover to allow ridden work to a level.
Photo courtesy of Stud Photography
Allow your horse time to settle. Remember, moving home for a horse will involve not just a change in scenery, but a change in field mates, diet and routine.
Whilst many racehorses have access to some form of turnout during their time in a racing yard, the vast majority will not, so it is always best to err on the side of caution when your new horse arrives with you. The golden rule of making changes gradually is vital, as their digestive tract needs to establish itself to digesting grass as well as the increase in the daily fibre intake. It is also a good idea to give them a complete break for at least a month, to mentally wind down and become the individual that you will eventually get to know.
Try to find out about their current feeding regime. The trainer may already have started to 'let him down', a term where the horse will have stopped being ridden, perhaps have been on the horse walker and have had some form of access to turn out, whilst their hard feed will have started to decline and their hay intake increased.
As with all rules of feeding, changes need to be made gradually, so the more prepared you can be, the less chance you will have of having a stressed horse during the first few weeks. For example, if your horse will not eat the cubes you are offering him, this may be because he was always fed on mixes or straights. As your new recruit will not necessarily have been used to ad lib hay, don't be too concerned if he doesn't eat everything you give him. You can always aid his appetite for forage by supplementing with a variety of fibre sources, such as Dengie Hi-Fi, ReadiGrass hay and/or haylage.
Once your horse is happy and relaxed in his new home, you can start to think about the job you will be asking him to do.
Photo courtesy of Jim Boyle's Ex Racehorses
Perhaps the most crucial consideration in the first few weeks is to not be afraid to feed him enough, in the thought that you will have a monster on your hands. Young thoroughbreds often grow when given a rest period, so if your horse is under four years you will need to keep the feed levels high enough so that he is receiving enough nutrients to allow him to continue to develop. A simple horse and pony ration will not always suffice. If you underfeed your horse whilst he is going through this period of stress you could also find that he quickly loses his top line and body condition score. The stigma of thoroughbreds having poor quality feet is unfair as it is usually caused by a lack of nutrition, so again you need to ensure that he is receiving enough quality protein and supporting minerals.
Photo courtesy of Stud Photography
Choosing The Right Feed
Saracen manufacture four complete feeds which simply complement every type of ex racehorse from the small flat bred sprint filly up to an aged 17hh national hunt chaser. The feeds can also be fed alongside Dengie Hi-Fi of Alfa A, if you prefer.
If your daily feeding levels are below 3.5kg (8lbs) which equates to about 3 – 3.5 scoops of a traditional round bowl of mix or 2 - 2.5 scoops of nuts, then you will need to supplement for essential nutrients (particularly minerals) with 1/2kg (1lb) of STAMM 30®.
When workloads increase and energy demands are higher, the above feeds can be topped up with EQUI-JEWEL®, a palatable stabilised rice bran feed starting at 1/5 kg (1lb) per day. We can send you measuring cups for Stamm 30® and EQUI-JEWEL® for more accurate feeding.
For further advice including an in depth fact sheet or feed sample, please contact:
Nutritional Support & Helpdesk
01622 718 487