Transition the Retired Racehorse
When to Consider Retirement
Transitioning the active race horse to another career after the animal is no longer competitive should be the goal of every owner. These animals give us great pleasure and in some cases significant monetary return. The least we can do for them is to provide useful lives after racing.
For individuals of superior talent that are uncastrated males, stallion duty may be possible. For well- bred fillies that have sufficient race records, use as a broodmare is a natural succession. For those horses that do not fit either of these categories, succession planning to another career should be part of the owner’s thinking.
To be able to transition a racing animal to another performance career requires planning ahead and discussions with trainers and veterinarians about your goals. All equine activities require that a horse be physically able to perform the task and have the temperament to do the job. A clear understanding of the requirements for a horse to perform a certain activity after racing is required and can be acquired by talking with professionals in that field. For athletic endeavors such as hunter/jumper, eventing, foxhunting or dressage, the horse must not exhibit lameness or have other significant musculoskeletal issues. This will dictate stopping racing before such problems arise or providing the necessary care and rehabilitation to remedy such problems. This should be discussed with your trainer.
Transitioning the Racing Filly or Mare to the Broodmare Band
If a filly is to be transitioned to a broodmare, she should stop racing before she develops significant musculoskeletal issues that will compromise her ability to carry a foal to term and to be a good mother. This requires communication with your trainer about your goals and will be aided by a complete veterinary examination with this in mind. A breeding soundness examination should also be performed.
With the breeding season being late winter and spring, it is usually necessary to stop racing these fillies either in the fall to give them time to let down from competition and adjust to farm life; or if retired in late winter or spring, immediately transfer them to a breeding facility to be evaluated with the goal of being bred upon arrival. Many will come off the track and be bred and conceive right away, but others may need several months to transition. This will require consultation with your trainer, veterinarian and the breeding facility that will manage the care of the horse.