What Happens to Retired Racehorses?

The Fate of Retired Racehorses

Every year there are hundreds of racing horses, of all breeds that are looking for a home after they have retired.  So what will happen to these horses when they are no longer fit to race.  This could be because of injury, the fact that they are getting older or they are no longer able to run as fast as they used to.  Unfortunately, these horses often end up being auctioned or they may end up the slaughterhouse.

The fact that racehorses are bred to be athletically able means that they can also be used for other things, such as eventing, show jumping and dressage.  These horses can also be used as trail horses, making great companions for taking peaceful rides with friends.

Factors to Consider

For horse lovers who are considering buying a retired racehorse there are a few factors to consider.  What often happens with racehorses is that they may be anxious and highly-strung when they are coming off the track.  Handlers will need to understand this and be especially careful and caring when helping the horse transition to a new life.  Handlers will need to be objective when they assess their abilities to retrain these horses.

Many racehorses have unfortunately been injured during their careers and this may adversely affect their ability to fulfil their new purpose.  Just because a horse has been injured does not mean that they are not fit for anything, but it is advisable to ask a veterinarian to perform a full check-up before buying the horse.  It is always advisable to know everything about the horse before making a purchase.


Training a racehorse and training a horse for riding is completely different so an ex racehorse will need be taught how to do things all over again.  The horse will need to learn that it can go at different speeds and not just forward.  Once again it is important to be realistic about being able to teach and work with ex racehorses.

Racehorses are lean and may look underfed to someone who does not know them.  They may make the mistake of trying to feed them too much.  Racehorses will usually have three meals a day, which include large amounts of protein.  A racehorse’s metabolism will be accustomed to protein.  At the start of retraining it is good to stick to what the horse is used to and once they have become accustomed to their new lifestyle they should pick up weight.

Once a decision has been made to acquire an ex racehorse, the next step is to choose one, much you’d decide on which way to bet after you’d checked the latest NRL Premiership odds.  There are many racetracks around the world that will have an adoption programme for retired horses.  One such adoption centre is in Texas, USA, at the Sam Houston Race Park.  There are also other organisations whose sole purpose is to rehabilitate ex racehorses.

When considering buying a horse looking at various adoption agencies is a great option and much joy can come from giving a retired racehorse a new lease on life and a new home.

About Doreen Cohen