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Today I came across a rant on Facebook about people referring to their ex racehorses as racehorses and how they found it stupid and unnecessary. This was an interesting one for me as I find that I both agree and disagree with what she was saying, depending on how you define ‘racehorse’ and ‘ex racehorse’.
When does a racehorse become an ex racehorse?
Initially, this seems simple. A racehorse is a horse which is racing and an ex racehorse is a horse which isn’t racing. But like most things involving horses, it isn’t really that simple.
Firstly, if a horse finishes his last race and then goes straight to a new home outside of the racing industry, they don’t know that they are no longer a racehorse and will likely take some time to relax into their new life style. So even though this horse is technically an ex racehorse, it is still racing fit and hasn’t settled into his new life yet, so I would probably still refer to this horse as a racehorse. However, after a few months or so, I personally feel that the horse will have basically settled into its new life and is now an ex racehorse.
Another consideration is what the horse’s new career is. If the horse’s new life is point-to-pointing, team chasing or training new jockeys at Jockey schools, these careers are very similar to their racing career, especially if they were national hunt horses. In fact, those horses at racing schools are very much still kept as racehorses. So although the horse isn’t a racehorse anymore, they are likely to have a similar diet (albeit hopefully a lot more forage) and fitness level. You could arguably still call some of these horses racehorses, despite the fact they have stopped racing under rules.
And finally we come to the horses which trained but never raced. Do we count these as racehorses and ex racehorses? If they were in the environment for a long time, it is likely to have had a similar mental and physical impact on them as those who actually made it to the track. However, saying that, they are unlikely to have had as much mental and physical strain put on them.
So based on what I have said, I am going to change my definitions slightly and add a new category.
Racehorse: A horse currently in training in the racing industry or a horse which has very recently left the racing industry and is transitioning.
Ex Racehorse: A horse who did race and has left the industry and settled into a new life/career.
Trained Racehorse: A horse who trained to race but never made it to the track and has since left the industry and settled into a new career.
When is being a racehorse/ex racehorse important?
Now we are really getting to the main point of the rant where the Ranter feels like people feel the need to tell people that their horse is an ex racehorse when it isn’t necessary information to try and impress those around them. Now I do kinda get this. Ex racehorses do have a reputation for being difficult horses, so it could be seen as a way of bragging about your abilities.
However, there are times when mentioning your horses racing history might be useful and times that its really not. Below are my top 4 times when mentioning your horses racing history may be helpful:
- Training problem
- Feed advice (if fairly fresh out of racing)
- Management advice (again if fresh out of racing)
- When having back lady/physio/chiropractor out
Because racehorses are fed, managed and trained differently to our sports and leisure horses, knowing the horse raced can help address problems. A nutritionist might suggest a different weight gain feed to a horse fresh out of racing than to a poor doer. Similarly, a trainer/instructor might approach schooling exercises differently, especially earlier on in the training. And racehorses tend to have very similar problems and weaknesses in their backs due to how they are trained and run. Any information you can give whoever is working on your horse about their race history may help them to determine possible causes of weaknesses in the horse.
But there are also times when mentioning your horses racing history is not needed and probably quite annoying… and I must admit I am definitely guilty of some of these!
- When asking for general health care advise
- When asking for advice on rugs/tack etc… TB will be plenty of information
- When asking for a second opinion on a possible lameness or injury
- Basically if your horse hasn’t just left the track, you probably don’t need to mention it!
If you are unsure you will be able to refrain from using ex racehorse, I suggest you join one of the many groups dedicated to ex racehorses where you can talk about it until your heart gives out. Because, if you are like me, you are probably very proud of your horse’s racing career, even if he came dead last in every race and want to share with the world what a super star he has been finishing one career and adapting to his new life with you!