what happens to horses after they are done racing

Many retired racehorses go through a process of retraining to adapt to new disciplines, such as pleasure riding, trail riding, or even therapeutic riding. Some horses are adopted by private owners, where they can enjoy a life of leisure and companionship. Others may find their way to equine rescue organizations, where they are provided with care and rehabilitation before being placed in new homes. Depending on their age, health, and temperament, retired racehorses can embark on a variety of paths after their racing careers, from becoming beloved family pets to inspiring new generations of riders in equestrian sports.

Post-Racing Transition

Once racehorses retire from the track, they face a significant transition. The post-racing life can be quite different from their previous existence, and it’s important to ensure that these horses find suitable and fulfilling homes.

Retirement Options

  • Second Careers: Some horses transition to new careers in disciplines like dressage, show jumping, or trail riding.
  • Breeding: Certain horses with desirable qualities may be used for breeding purposes.
  • Leisure Horses: Many retired horses find homes as leisure companions or riding horses for pleasure.

Challenges and Concerns

The post-racing transition can come with its challenges:

  • Physical Health: Horses may have sustained injuries or developed health issues during their racing careers.
  • Mental Adjustment: Retiring from racing can be a significant psychological change for horses used to the excitement and competition.
  • Financial Stability: Finding suitable homes and providing ongoing care for retired horses can be expensive.

Finding Suitable Homes

Matching retired racehorses with suitable homes is crucial. Factors to consider include:

  • Health and Fitness: The horse’s physical condition and ability to perform specific activities.
  • Temperament: The horse’s personality, socialization skills, and trainability.
  • Owner’s Experience: The prospective owner’s knowledge and experience in horse care and handling.

Resources and Support

Several organizations and resources provide support for retired racehorses:

After the Finish LineProvides retirement planning and placement services for racehorses.
Old Friends Equine SanctuaryOffers sanctuary and lifetime care for retired Thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbred Retirement FoundationSupports the retirement and retraining of Thoroughbreds.

Retirement Options for Racehorses

When a racehorse’s racing career comes to an end, they have several potential retirement options. These options vary depending on the horse’s breed, temperament, and physical condition.

Retirement Homes

  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment for horses to live out their retirement.
  • May offer services such as farrier care, veterinary services, and exercise facilities.


  • Allows individuals or families to adopt and care for a retired racehorse.
  • Potential adopters should have experience with horses and be prepared to provide appropriate care.

Equestrian Sports

  • Some retired racehorses may be suitable for disciplines such as dressage, show jumping, or eventing.
  • Requires additional training and a skilled rider.


  • Retired racehorses with desirable bloodlines may be used for breeding purposes.
  • Pedigree and performance records are important factors in breeding decisions.

Therapeutic Riding

  • Retired racehorses with gentle temperaments and trainability may be used in therapeutic riding programs.
  • Benefits individuals with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges.

Retirement in the Field

  • Involves a peaceful and natural environment for retired horses to graze and socialize.
  • Requires a large pasture and adequate shelter.
Retirement OptionSuitabilityRequirementsCost
Retirement HomesAll breeds and temperamentsNone to minimalModerate to high
AdoptionGentle and trainable horsesExperience with horsesLow to moderate
Equestrian SportsAthletic and competitive horsesTraining and skilled riderModerate to high
BreedingDesirable bloodlines and performance recordsBreeding facilities and expertiseHigh
Therapeutic RidingGentle and patient horsesTherapeutic riding facilitiesModerate
Retirement in the FieldHealthy and sociable horsesLarge pasture and shelterLow

When racehorses retire from the track, they embark on a new chapter in their lives. They may find success in second careers, become beloved companions, or enjoy a peaceful retirement. Let’s explore what happens to these majestic animals after they hang up their racing shoes:

Second Careers

Many retired racehorses transition into new careers where they can continue to shine:

  • Eventing and Show Jumping: With their athletic prowess, many racehorses excel in these equestrian disciplines that combine endurance, agility, and jumping skills.
  • Dressage: This elegant discipline requires horses to perform precise and controlled movements, making it a suitable second career for some retired racehorses.
  • Therapy Horses: Some horses find their calling in therapeutic roles, providing comfort and support to people with disabilities or emotional challenges.
  • Mounted Patrol: Their speed and agility make retired racehorses ideal for law enforcement and park ranger patrols.
  • Trail Riding and Recreation: Many horses simply enjoy exploring the outdoors and connecting with nature in their retirement years.

Table: Retirement Options for Racehorses

Second CareersHorses continue to be active in equestrian sports, therapy, or law enforcement.
CompanionshipHorses provide companionship and affection as beloved family members or emotional support animals.
Retirement HomesSpecialized facilities offer sanctuary and care for retired racehorses, allowing them to live out their days in peace.

Whether they embark on new careers or simply enjoy their retirement, racehorses continue to bring joy and inspiration to those around them. Their resilience and adaptability are a testament to their remarkable spirit.

Retirement Options for Ex-Racehorses

The retirement journey for racehorses varies widely, and their future heavily depends on various factors such as their health, performance on the racetrack, and their connections within the racing industry. While some horses may have a smooth transition into a new career or a peaceful retirement, others may face challenges and uncertainties. Let’s explore the common paths ex-racehorses take after their racing days are over:

Retirement Options

  • Adoption: Many retired racehorses find loving homes through adoption programs. They may be adopted by individuals, families, or organizations for various purposes, including pleasure riding, trail riding, or companionship.
  • Retraining: Some ex-racehorses have the athleticism and temperament to transition into new disciplines, such as show jumping, dressage, or eventing. With proper training and rehabilitation, they can excel in these new sports.
  • Breeding: Stallions and mares with exceptional bloodlines may be used for breeding purposes to produce future racehorses.
  • Retirement Farms: Some racehorses may retire to farms, where they are cared for and live out their lives in a more relaxed environment. These farms may provide pasture, shelter, and veterinary care.
  • Euthanasia: In some unfortunate cases, horses that are severely injured or have health conditions that cannot be managed may be euthanized to prevent suffering.

Welfare and Advocacy

The welfare of retired racehorses has gained increasing attention in recent years. Several organizations and advocates are dedicated to ensuring that these horses have a good quality of life after their racing careers. Here are some key efforts in this area:

The Jockey ClubRegistry and welfareProvides retirement planning resources, supports adoption programs, and offers financial assistance to retired racehorses.
Thoroughbred Charities of AmericaRetirement and retrainingFunds rehabilitation and retraining programs, provides grants to retirement farms, and supports adoption initiatives.
Racehorse Aftercare AssociationAdvocacy and oversightSets standards and promotes best practices for horse retirement, provides accreditation to retirement facilities, and conducts research on aftercare issues.

And there you have it, folks! The ins and outs of what happens to these majestic creatures once their racing days are behind them. Remember, every horse has a unique story, and their post-racing journey can vary greatly. Whether they find solace on a farm, strut their stuff in new disciplines, or simply become beloved companions, one thing’s for sure: these equine athletes deserve all the love and care we can give them. Thanks for joining me on this ride, folks! Be sure to drop by again soon for more horsey adventures.