Re-purposing a race horse. How to adopt a race horse and giving them a new life and purpose.

Re-purposing a race horse. How to adopt a race horse and giving them a new life and purpose.

Misty Kale

Finding life and purpose after a racing career for horses can be challenging, but there are many organizations now that are making a change and contributing to the success of these horses finding a new life after the track. This blog will cover some facts of what happens to retired thoroughbreds and also resources if you are interested in adopting one of these amazing athletes and giving them a new purpose in life.

The Jockey Club, the national registry of thoroughbreds headquartered in Lexington, Ky., reports that approximately 35,000 thoroughbreds are foaled in North America each year, 68 percent of which are destined for a career on the racetrack. Of those horses, nearly 70 percent will win at least one race, but only 5 percent will win a bigger-pursed stakes race, and only two-tenths of a percent will win a Grade I stakes race, which awards the biggest purse and creates the biggest superstars.

Thousands of racehorses retire every year and suddenly find themselves displaced with nowhere to go. Most people assume that a racehorse will retire to a life of being a stud or broodmare and will enjoy the pastured life while they sire the next generation of winners, but this is not always the case.

For every horse winning millions in front of sold-out crowds, there are unheralded thoroughbreds that also race their hearts out each day, but for small purses on cheaper tracks to nearly empty stands. Eventually, lackluster performance or an injury ends these horses' careers. At least 3,000 such racehorses are retired each year, usually by age 6 if not younger, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation estimates. Given that most horses live well into their 20s, the question of what to do with them for the next 15 or more years looms. Unfortunately and frequently, the answer is one most horse lovers would rather not think about: Approximately two out of every three thoroughbreds that come off the track, even those that are sound and healthy, are euthanized, abandoned on public land or in empty fields, or slaughtered and their meat is exported to Europe and Japan for human consumption.

The closure of horse slaughterhouses in the United States in 2007, after Congress barred the Department of Agriculture from using funds to conduct horse slaughter inspections, did not diminish the phenomenon much. The USDA estimates that more than 90,000 horses were exported to Canada and Mexico last year for slaughter. The Livestock Marketing Association, which advocates the resumption of horse slaughter in this country, puts the number at more than 120,000. By contrast, in 2006, horse slaughter in the United States and the export of horses for slaughter tallied about 150,000, according to the USDA.

Efforts to stop horse slaughter have gained momentum in recent years as public awareness has grown. Last year in the House and Senate, bills were introduced that would prohibit trafficking in horses for human consumption of their meat. In December, the New York Racing Association announced that it would ban any trainer or breeder who sells a horse to slaughter. Other mid-Atlantic racetracks also have no-slaughter policies on the books, including Pimlico and Laurel Park in Maryland, Colonial Downs in Virginia and Charles Town and Mountaineer Park in West Virginia.

The successful racing career of a colt or stallion who has won some notable races will most likely be shorter, where owners prefer to put him to stud before they must geld him or he suffers injury. A horse of this caliber must race and win only a few races to confirm his talents before he is put to stud. 

Most often a colt must be gelded at around 3 or 4 years of age (depending on maturity) in order to continue his racing career. Unless a colt is particularly successful and/or comes from a very popular or respected bloodline, chances are that horse will be gelded to continue racing as he would not be a popular or high earning stallion anyway.

Most successful geldings can race until 7 or 8 years old, sometimes even older.
Mares can continue racing till that age too. However, mares can be much moodier than geldings and some become broody and lose interest in racing before they reach 5 or 6. Other mares and geldings will let you know soon enough if they don't want to race anymore, and it happens. They refuse to jump out of the starting stalls or amble along at the back of the field as though they are sightseeing. This is a sure sign that the horse just doesn't enjoy the racing experience anymore. Some horses really enjoy their race day outings so if they are successful on the track, it is an easy decision to let them continue racing. 

There are many organizations that rescue and re-purpose these racehorses and give them a new opportunity to enjoy the rest of their lives.  These are just a few listed below.  

Canter USA


Akindale TB Rescue 

Southern California TB Rescue

After the Races

Thoroughbred Adoption Network 

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Procedures for air transporting a horse within the US and from abroad

Procedures for air transporting a horse within the US and from abroad

Misty Kale
Procedures and requirements for transporting a horse in the United States and abroad.

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Image from Lucky Braids

Braiding your horse's mane for show

Misty Kale
As with most things in the equestrian world, the braiding of a horse’s mane and tail is a tradition and makes a big statement in the show ring. While braiding customs may come from the days of cavalry drills and foxhunts, today braids are most often seen in the show ring. Depending on the discipline, different styles can be seen and is a great way to show off a horse’s top line.

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15 horsey things to do before you die

15 horsey things to do before you die

Misty Kale

Most people have a bucket list of things they would like to experience in life, so here is a list of 15 great horsey things all riders should try at some point. How many of these fun horsey ambitions can you claim to have done?

1. Watch the Grand National in person

How: If you’ve never ventured up to Aintree, this is a must. This season, the great race is on Thursday 4 April (2019), to find out more (tel: 0844 579 3001) or visit

2. Swim with your horse in the ocean

How: The British Horse Society has produced a PDF guide, to suitable beaches around the country, or find out which beaches H&H readers’ recommend for a location near you.

3. Ride out for a racehorse trainer

How: Manage an introduction and convince them that, perched atop half-a-ton of galloping horse, you’ll be able to restrain its power. Or, if you’re already confident, apply for a work rider vacancy. National hunt trainers do not require you to be a featherweight.

4. Ride side saddle

How: Learning to ride side-saddle is a completely different riding experience. If you want to give it a go, the Side Saddle Association can help.

5. Go on a horseback safari

How: An African safari is the rider’s equivalent of swimming with dolphins. The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a wilderness paradise of lagoons, islands and forests with the best game viewing in Southern Africa. Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa also offer great riding experiences.

Check out these websites for some more information:

6. Have a go at the Golden Button challenge

How: If you’re an equestrian adrenaline junkie then look no further than the three mile race over Ledbury hunt country held in February. Anyone can enter — there’s just 28 obstacles between you and the finish line. Visit the Golden Button website for more details.

7. Ride flying changes

How: If you’re desperate to experience flying changes then try booking a lesson or two! Just look in your local newspaper or google lessons in your area. Make sure you call and find out what kind of facility you are going to and if they have lesson horses that can accommodate what you're looking for. 

8. Try Reining

How: Fancy embracing your inner cowboy/girl? Then why not give reining a try! From spins to sliding stops reining could offer you a completely new equestrian experience. For more information visit for more information.

9. Go hunting in Ireland

How: There are plenty of ways to fulfill your dream of hunting in Ireland, like booking in for a holiday.

  • Louis Murphy, manager of the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Co Limerick, organizes hunting package holidays. There’s a choice of nine legendary Irish packs such as the Tipperary and the Galway Blazers to join for a day out. Visit the website or email for more details on packages available.
  • Flower Hill House in Co Galway organizes accommodations, hunting and horse-hire with the East Galway and other packs. Cost: cap: around €100; horse-hire: around €130. Visit the website

  10. See a horse sold for more than a million

How: For astronomical prices, head to Newmarket or Kentucky. In the US, the Keeneland July and September sales are the biggest and in England, you could be lucky enough to witness such sales as the filly who sold for a record price of 4.5 m guineas in 2014.

For more information, look here:

 11. Try vaulting lessons

How: If you’ve got a pair of leggings and some pumps to wear, you can try your hand at vaulting. You won't need your own horse. For more information check out F.A.C.E. (Free Arts Creative Equestrians) 818-429-2115 or google for vaulting lessons in your area.

12. Herd cattle across the plains in Montana

How: This one’s not cheap, but definitely an unmissable experience — browse these websites for some more information:

  • Ranch America — or call 020 3588 6032.
  • 1880s Ranch — or email Sherri Jamison on to find out more.

13.  Watch the Spanish Riding School

How: Under glittering chandeliers, the famous white Lipizzaner stallions perform the purest form of dressage in Vienna. As well as the evening performances, don’t miss their morning training sessions. Take a look at the Spanish Riding School website.

14. Go to a team chase

How: The season typically runs from the end of September to the beginning of November, then from the end of February to the beginning of April. Interested in having a go at team chasing? For more information visit

15. Jump bareback

How: If you want to give it a go, the answer is to start small, build up and practice, practice, practice. Just remember, canter is more comfortable than trot! If you feel insecure riding with no saddle, start on the lunge so you can concentrate on your position rather than what the horse is doing.

 There are many other exciting things to see and do that are horse related so get out there an experience some true equestrian fun!


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Does your horse really need a shelter?

Does your horse really need a shelter?

Misty Kale
Importance of providing shade and shelter for your horses. Lean to vs. barns. What happens when horses are exposed to the elements. What is a lean to.

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Equestrian Tall Boots

Shopping for Tall Boots

Leslie Batistich
Getting back in the saddle as an amateur. Looking to replace my old custom E. Vogels with an off the shelf boot.  Will I be able to find a good fit?

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Pulling a horses main

Pulling a Horses Main for Shows

Misty Kale
Pulling your horses main for horse shows. How to keep your horse looking neat and tidy.

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Horse Careers

Horse Careers

Misty Kale
Careers with Horses - The many different equine job opportunities that may get you excited about working with horses.

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Horse Facts

Celebrating World Horse Day

Misty Kale
World Horse Day Celebration.  Learn more about our four-legged equine friends. This will cover a few fun horse facts that you might find interesting.

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DIY: Natural Fly Spray Recipe

DIY: Natural Fly Spray Recipe

Leslie Batistich

With summer approaching and flys are hatching It is an excellent time to think about fly repellent.  If you or your equine friend is sensitive to chemicals, you might want to consider about alternative fly sprays.  Here is a recipe we found and tested, that is eco-friendly and chemical free.

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

1 tsp Eucalyptus oil

1 tsp Citronella oil

1 tsp Tea Tree oil

24 oz spray bottle

I did find that you need to spray more often with this natural, holistic fly spray.  However, I feel that the pay off is well worth it.  


Natural Fly Spray - Eco-Friendly Fly Spray - Holistic Fly Repellent 

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