The October 2 edition of The Blood-Horse magazine is a special report. "Unwanted Horses: How the Industry is Dealing With Life After Racing" has features on second careers for runners after their last race; equine slaughter; Thoroughbred adoption; and the racing industry's current and future attempts to find solutions for retired racehorses.
Also in the news: my colleage at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care, Alexandra Beckstett, recently posted a story well worth reading. Considerations When Purchasing or Adopting an Ex-Racehorse for Sport identifies several precautions potential adoptors should take when evaluating a potential racetrack retiree.
The fate of Thoroughbreds following their first career is an important one to me, and I know it is a passionate concern to many of you. We've had some good discussion about Thoroughbred racehorse retirement previously on this blog; we've explored the controversial topic of what happens to mares after they're culled from the broodmare band; we've shared opinions about which Thoroughbred bloodlines make the best sport horses; and I recommended a must-read book-- Beyond the Homestretch: What I've Learned from Saving Racehorses--about the topic.
Today I'd like your ideas about how we can start to prepare our horses for their future careers, even while they're in training or being pointed towards the track as young foals. Can it be done? Can 2-year-olds be trained, simultaneously, to be competitive runners and good riding horses? Is exposure to trails, or to small jumps or to elementary dressage training, a practice that distracts a Thoroughbred in training from running fast on a big oval? Have you ever raised or trained a racehorse with a sport/pleasure second career in mind?