What Happens To Race Horses When They Stop Racing?

Of all the thoroughbred race horses born in the world every year only a few will make it to the race track and become a winner. The vast majority will never compete in a race. Those that do compete will ultimately face the end of their career. Some are lost to accidents on the track. Others are retired. Only a few of them will lead lives after racing that compare to the lives they led on the track.


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Figuring out what to do with thoroughbred horses that do not race is an ongoing problem for the racing industry. Too many irresponsible horse owners allow too many horses to breed each year. Here’s a look at what happens to race horses when they stop racing.

Some Thoroughbreds are Sent to Stud

It is necessary for the best horses in racing to continue the thoroughbred bloodline. Otherwise there would be no horse racing to bet on at your favorite online racebook. All thoroughbreds that race today are descended from the same three stallions. If the bloodlines were left to die out there would be no racing.

The problem is that only the most talented males and females get bred. Male horses that have success on the track are sent to a stud farm where owners can pay to have their females paired with them. The cost of such a pairing depends upon how successful the horse was in its career. Sometimes the stud fee can reach six figures.

2018 Triple Crown winner Justify was sent to Coolmore America after his phenomenal career. The farm recently announced that the 2019 stud fee for Justify is $150,000. This means that someone must pay the owners of Justify $150,000 to breed their mare. This may seem like a lot of money, but when you think about the number of Triple Crown winners in history – less than 15 – it is a reasonable sum.

Of course, there are no guarantees. Secretariat failed spectacularly as a stud, but his daughters produced winners. Other horses get injured while at stud and some of them have to be humanely destroyed. The fee of $150,000 only guarantees you a live foal. It does not promise that the horse you get will become the next great racing champion.

Can anyone with the right amount of money breed their mare to a champion? No. Stud farms are very selective when it comes to pairings. The mare generally needs to be from championship stock herself, or at least she needs to have shown that she can breed winners. Unlike males, females don’t necessarily have to race to have breeding value. They only need to be from a strong bloodline.

Some Thoroughbreds End Up at Slaughter

It is a sad reality that many race horses today will end up going to a slaughter house. Horses are slaughtered for a number of reasons. In some countries, horse meat is consumed by humans. Glue and other products are made from horse carcasses.

The US has banned the slaughter of horses for consumption. Even so, horse buyers find ways around this. Horses can be purchased in the US and shipped to the US or Canada where they can then be sold to slaughter houses. Some in the US have sought to create legislation that will prevent this practice, but the failure is not one of lawmakers. The problem is irresponsible breeding by thoroughbred horses that have little or no value.

Thoroughbred horses were born to do one thing and one thing only. They race. Those who do not are sometimes retrained as show horses, but these numbers are very small. Until owners stop breeding horses that have proven they lack racing talent, horse slaughter will continue to be a problem in the United States.

Some Race Horses Get Neglected

For all the race horses that go to stud or slaughter, there are just as many that wind up neglected and forgotten. These horses sometimes decorate the pasture of someone that just wants a pet, or they may even be turned loose to roam free in the countryside.

The problem with this is that thoroughbred horses are ones that need care. Many of them are used to being cared for on a daily basis. When they do not receive the care that they are accustomed to they can lose weight, become ill, and perish. Every year there are stories in the news that tell of owners that are arrested for animal negligence. Some of these owners do not have ill intentions. They simply lose interest or can no longer afford to take care of their horses.

Race Horse Retirement Organizations

Thankfully, there are some organizations that work to support thoroughbred horses in retirement. These groups work to find homes for horses that have been retired. They screen owners and also help find secondary jobs for horses. EZ Horse Betting suggests that you check out the following organizations and consider supporting them with your charitable donations:

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