Inspired by lorekai’s post last week, I’ve made up a little quiz for anyone thinking horse-type thoughts!
Ex racehorses are often sold for very little money, or even given away for free. In my time working around horses, I have seen three main mentalities. Take this quiz to find out which one you may be!
Should I Get that Free Horse?
1. Do you enjoy breathing without broken ribs?
A) Yes. Breathing is a non-optional thing.
B) Ribs grow back, right?
C) I prefer breathing with non-broken ribs, but could make do if necessary.
2. Do you have buckets of money lying around to throw at a trainer, vet, dentist, chiropractor, saddle fitter, feed store, farrier, agistment centre, and tack shop?
A) Yes. I have more money than I know what to do with! Money for all!
B) I can pay for one of those things sometimes. That counts, right? Horses don’t need that much food, do they?
C) Sometimes I have money for all those things, but sometimes I won’t. I might have to do life on the cheap for a while if I need to pay for them, but I reckon I could get by.
3. How long have you been working with horses?
A) I’ve been occasionally sitting on them for years while someone else does all the feeding. I’ve had a lot of lessons and such.
B) I’ve never had lessons, but I sit on friends’ horses all the time.
C) I’ve ridden a load of different types, sizes, ages and levels of experience. I’ve had years of lessons.
4. The horse is galloping frantically around his paddock. What do you do?
A) Ignore it, or call someone else to fix it.
B) I’ll go in and play with him!
C) Try to get his attention – call out, tap a feed bucket, etc. Wait for him to calm down, then go catch him and check him over.
5. The horse needs to go on a trailer, but refuses to budge. What do you do?
A) Call someone else to fix it.
B) Get a big stick and a bucket of carrots. Literal carrot and stick approach should get him on the trailer!
C) Go back to basics. Get control of forward, reverse, turning and brakes. Don’t worry about getting on the trailer immediately. It can take all day if it needs to.
6. Your horse has a sore back. What do you do?
A) Get a new horse, just retire that one.
B) It’s not that sore, right? I’ll just ride without a saddle or something.
C) Break the bank on getting chiropractors and saddle fitters out. If it can’t be fixed, I’ll retire him.
7. The horse is a mare. Do you breed her?
A) She was free, so it’s no big loss if I do or don’t breed her. Maybe I will, if I find a nice stallion…
B) I know this totally cute little paint x Frieisian x warmblood x pony that would make the CUTEST babies with her. Or there’s that cheap stallion up the road, or my friend’s pony… Hey, I could make some money doing this!
C) I’ll wait and see if she’s a good competition horse first. And if she has legs like a crab, then that’s going to be a no…
8. Why are you the best home for a free horse?
A) I have all the money and facilities a horse could possibly need. I’m doing it a favour, really.
B) I haven’t got money for an expensive horse, and horses shouldn’t be expensive anyway! It’s all just a stupid conspiracy by vets that this stuff costs so much. I know better than most people, so the horse will be in the right place.
C) I’m probably not the best home, but I can be a good home. I know what horses need to get by, and what they need to thrive. I can provide the former constantly, and the latter usually.
9. Do you enjoy near-death experiences, otherwise known as introducing an ex-racehorse to new situations?
A) I’ll pay someone else to do that for me.
C) No. Hell no. I’ll be doing a LOT of groundwork and slowing introducing new ideas. I’m definitely not chucking both myself and the horse in the deep end all of a sudden.
10. Are all free ex-racehorses healthy?
A) About as healthy as any horse. They need the same vet care, after all. I can cover it.
B) Um, yeah… they’re fit from all that running, aren’t they?
C) Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I’m prepared for ulcer and joint treatments.
Mostly As: Congratulations, you are a walking bank balance! Good for you. Whatever resources or training you need, you can get. You should get that free horse and keep throwing money at it. Hell, get ten. Retrain them and then send them on to new homes, or keep them and love them. Either way works. Your money will guarantee that they have all the basics they could ever need from life.
Mostly Bs: Go find a bus and throw yourself under it. Alternatively, don’t ever own a horse. I have met far too many people from your category and am running out of places to hide the bodies.
Mostly Cs: Congratulations, you may not get killed! You’re on the right path and may turn a free horse into a valuable horse, or alternatively just end up with an awesome pet. Keep doing what you’re doing, and keep learning new things.
Moral of the story:
Ex-racehorses are free or cheap for a reason. They are large, often medically questionable, and require specialist care and training in order to become casual or competition riding horses. Beginners can and do get seriously hurt riding ex-racehorses. They can be fabulous in their new roles and even some of the best horses you ever work with, but some can also be mentally or physically damaged from their first career. You need a lot of experience, patience and money to make this work, and often access to other experienced individuals to help you through the horse’s retraining and rehabilitation. Some of the best horses I’ve ever met are recently off-the-track thoroughbreds, but so are some of the most dodgy.
Also, here is my result from lorekai’s “Sherlock” quiz. It made me laugh more than was really reasonable.