Saturday, September 17, 2011

PART 1: the track

Today was so epic it deserves two entries. I know, I know. It's amazing.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: pony shopping at Suffolk Downs.

Today's trip to Boston proved to be enlightening, to say the least. We saw about 15 horses. Some were bonkers. Some were cute. Some were totally lame. Some had their "equipment" still (i.e. they hadn't been gelded). Some were available right then and there and if we had brought a trailer, we could have gone home with a full load. Some still had to race, despite the trainers all saying "yeah, he doesn't want to race anymore." Why make the horse run if he clearly doesn't want to? I have no idea. Most looked to be in really great shape, with glittering coats and cheeky expressions.

One really stood out, a 6yo bay mare with a big frame and a very quiet disposition who politely lipped peppermints out of our hands and fell asleep when we rubbed her ears. The trainer seemed really nice and forthcoming at first, and said the mare was tired of racing and he was really just looking for a good home for her. He brought her out of her stall and she stood quietly without even a chain over her nose while I ran my hands down all of her legs. Her ankles looked a bit big, which concerned me, but she trotted out sound and she was just such a sweetheart that she really "spoke" to us. My friend whom we were shopping for liked her the most and she's going to have her vetted, though when she called the trainer to tell him she was going to schedule a vetting, he told her not to waste her money, which is a red flag as far as I'm concerned. My friend is still pursuing her and is going to have her vetted (rightfully so!).

Here are a few shots from our expedition!

The mare whom we all liked the most. Isn't she beautiful?
Confo shot of the mare above.
These birds were hanging out sharing this horse's lunch. So sweet!
This is their manure management system! Crazy!
We all really really liked this gelding, but he had sore shins and was a little bit
fresh, too; he had only recently lost his "equipment", shall we say.
He really liked Lauren, though!
We all really liked this gelding, too. He had a great build and a big personality
but he would probably be too much horse for my friend, so we admired him
and moved on.
My friend visiting the "top mare" one last time before we left. She's going to
have her vetted hopefully sometime this week! Let's hope she passes!


  1. Depending on what's wrong with that gelding's shins, a couple of months of let down would probably cure what ails him. That mare is beautiful! Such a sweet face and a kind eye. I hope your friend starts a blog so we can all live the adventure with her vicariously.

  2. How exciting!
    Terry at Moondance

  3. That first mares pastern angles concern me, as do her extremely low heels. She's very sweet but her hind end is lacking too, if she's looking for a sport horse she might find her not staying sound with those different pastern angles. Good luck!

  4. They tend to trim racehorses' heels short with longer toes, due to the belief that it gives them more impulsion while running. Corrective trimming, shoeing and patience off the track can fix those pastern angles, assuming that there hasn't been a lot of damage from running with those long toes/short heels.

  5. What a beautiful kind face!!! She looks exactly what I'd be drawn to as well. I hope your friend starts a blog!! Keep us updated on how she vets out!

  6. She's looking for a pleasure horse whom she could do something like a hunter pace with on occasion. She's looking more for temperment than athletic ability. I think the angles will clean up a lot when she gets some attention from a farrier. The trainer mentioned she was trimmed like this on purpose. We saw a lot of horses with long toes/low or no heels and that's what Lucy was like when I got her. Must be a racetrack thing.

  7. I have never heard of rehoming race horses like this. What a great thing!! Would it be wrong for me to ask what the prices are like? I'm so curious what the owners/trainers will take for horses that didn't make their Race Horse Cut, so to speak.
    Great post Kate!!

  8. Deanna, every year at most of the tracks in the US, CANTER comes in and takes photos of all the horses who are being retired from racing. Some are only three and just haven't shown any stamina or speed, so their first racing season will be their last. Some are track veterans. One gelding we looked at yesterday was 10! That is almost unheard of, though. The majority of horses we saw yesterday were 5 or 6, and weren't fast enough to make the cut for the winter circuit down in FL.

    Prices range from free to about $3500, though if you show up with cash and a trailer, I guarantee you'll get whatever horse you want for whatever cash you want to spend. At this point in the season, with the track closing so soon for winter, trainers are feeling the pressure of the looming closing date. It also costs them a lot of money to keep the horse at the track, so if the horse isn't performing well for them, they want to get rid of it asap.

    Here are the listings for the Boston track we were at, so you can get a better idea of what horses are there and how much their asking prices are:

    Listing prices mean nothing, horse we looked at was listed at $1500 but the trainer admitted almost immediately that she really just wanted the vet fees she'd paid out for him back, which totaled around $500.

    The good news is that a lot of tracks have created rules to protect the horses retiring from their tracks from going to slaughter. If an OTTB is found in a kill pen, their tattoo is usually traced back to their owner/trainer, and the owner/trainer is then banned from racing any horses at that track. This is why the owners/trainers are so motivated to find the horses homes.

  9. Wow, racing shape for sure. That Mare is beautiful and has a delicate face and I love a horse that allows you and enjoys the face/ear playing :)
    I hope your friend finds her partner in good health!

  10. the mare is very cute, but the long, skinny pasturns and light bone would concern me soundness wise.

  11. Any news on how the vetting went?

  12. Hi Jae, she is being vetted tomorrow. I'll be there so I will come back with a full report! Keep your fingers crossed that everything looks good.


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