Retraining an ex-racer is challenging, but also hugely rewarding. You get to see them transform from a lean, highly tuned (and possibly highly strung) athlete into a calm-natured riding horse. Building trust, establishing ground rules and letting them take as much time as they need is vital.

Event rider Victoria Baz shares her top tips for getting your ex-racehorse hacking out happily.

1. Riding with other horses 

When introducing hacking, Victoria recommends you use your ex-racers experience of being ridden in a string.

Start the work in an arena or enclosed paddock, in case they become over-excited in open spaces. Once they’re settled in walk you can introduce trotting, then move on to acceptance of the leg and canter work. Conquer all of this before you attempt to actually go out for a hack. Even then, it’s best to start out with the more familiar.

“If you can, start in the school with other horses in there too,” says Victoria. “This reminds them about having other horses around.”

2. Building your bond 

A strong relationship with your ex-racehorse is important because when you go out they need to trust all is OK.

“If you’ve bought a horse who has always been the lead, the hacking out phase will be easier to master. If they were a follower it can be trickier, especially when hacking solo.”

3. Learning to lead 

Hack around your yard and paddocks first, with an equine buddy to help.

“Let them take the lead for a few minutes at a time, increasing this as their confidence grows, and don’t venture out of the yard until you have control. If in doubt, long-reining them around the paddocks and on short hacks builds confidence. It keeps you safe too.”

Meet the expert: Victoria Bax is an event rider and coach who specialises in retraining former racehorses. She’s owned mostly ex-racehorses during her career and uses her skills in retraining racehorses to help riders solve the issues they’re facing with their own horses.

Subscribe and save up to 49%

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue