I am looking for a young thoroughbred off the track in which i can school myself and do light competing with in dressage as i am in juniors now, .but What exactly Should i be looking for in a good, sensible horse?
Wow Jadie! Good question! What makes a horse a good buy could take up a whole book full and of course depends very much on things like what you want to use the horse for, how much you will be paying and a host of other factors that could influence your decision.
The most important piece of advice I would give you when deciding to buy a horse off the track is to have it vetted properly, INCLUDING X-Rays of at least the front legs from the knees down. If you can do the hind legs too, then great! Racehorses take a great deal of strain and often their limbs are not in great shape. Things like hairline stress fractures, knee chips or injuries that are just waiting to blow might not be apparant to the naked eye, but an X-Ray will quickly show the impending problems. I had a client that was given a horse off the track – a magnificent beast in all respects. Two weeks after he arrived at the yard, he cut his leg out in the paddock and suddenly went lame. After a series of tests, drugs and a host of opinions, X-Rays were done which indicated not only a small hairline fracture in the navicular bone that was inoperable, but multiple knee chips that were about to blow. There was damage to the cartilage on the joints as well. The horse had to be put down. What a tragedy! The owner was devastated. A simple X-Ray would have shown this right away and would have prevented further misery. Also important to know, with a sachet or two of Bute in his system, the horse trotted up sound… broken bone and all! The vet will also be able to give advise on conformation and possible problems that might arise.
Also take a knowledgeable person, such as a qualified instructor on a second visit. They will be able to further advise you on conformation, temperament and suitability to your chosen discipline. Even a horse with a few conformation faults can make up for it with heart and attitude, so that is also very important.
There are good dealers and sadly, not so great dealers. The trick is to take somebody knowledgeable and to do the proper pre-purchase Vet checks so that at least on the health front, you are well on your way! Be wary of any horse being given away for free from the track – try to establish exactly why the horse is being given away – often there is some underlying health reason or serious behaviour problem.