If you are considering buying a new horse, consider the OTTB (off-track Thoroughbred). Why is an OTTB a good deal? They are typically still young. Thoroughbreds start racing as two-year-olds and don’t race much past five unless they are highly talented.
They are thoroughly familiar with the noise and commotion that goes on at a race stable. Blaring announcements, people, music – all are a daily part of a race horse’s life and they soon become bored by it. However that’s not to say they can’t get spooked once they are getting ready to race. OTTB's are used to standing for the shoer, vet exams and baths. Because they travel a lot, as well as have a lot of experience being squeezed into those starting gates, most OTTB’s are OK with trailer loading. These horses are typically inexpensive, or sometimes even free.
However, be sure of your riding level before retraining an ex-race horse. While OTTB’s are used to being ridden, they are not use to being ridden with conventional riding aides. First of all, OTTB’s expect to run each time they are saddled up. -And don’t even think you’ll control their speed by pulling back on the reins. To race horses, pressure on the mouth means GO FASTER! Also, most OTTB’s don’t know about weight aides, leg pressure, being on the bit or bending. Retraining an OTTB is different than training a young horse – in fact, there’s probably more untraining done than training. So find a trainer who knows how to communicate with these horses.
Finally, no matter what the cost of the OTTB, remember there’s no such thing as a “free horse.” Absolutely get a vet pre-purchase exam, including x-rays.