Horseproblems Australia
Post Office Box Victor Harbor
SA. 5211
(61) 0885521418








John O'Leary






This is a warning. A warning to anyone who is of the mind to purchase a new horse and is considering an 'OTTB' (Off the track Thoroughbred) horse.

Yes, I know, there are some nice one's but the percentage of nice one's is miniscule. In my experience, based across a sample of say 1,000 of them, that less than 5% will suit Novice Riders'.

I don't enjoy writing this article because of the possible impact on horses of the future but I take heart in the fact that I have saved lot's of Standard Bred Race Horses due to me recommendations towards them. They have not let me down.

One of Australia's leading Vet's, Dr. John Kohnke, puts the percentage of these horses that are unsound when they leave the Racing Industry at least 60% and I put it higher because we ride them. This is typical of the problem:

It is not only the present and real Veterinary problems with them however, it is the mental breakdown and the state of their minds that completely rule them out of any successful re-education by average riders'. I have to admit that if you tried to give one of these horses to my wife she would refuse, no matter how beautiful it may be.



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When we examine the Veterinary soundness of these horses, after taking the above figures into account, I have to tell you that the Vets', miss a lot of problems during the Vet checks of these horses for sale. We have lost count of the number of horses that have successfully passed Vet checks, only to be found immediately unsound when we ride them. That is not the fault of the Vets' however as they don't ride them and they don't really focus too much on the rear end of the horse either, apart from the stress tests of hocks down. One of the purposes of this article is to get them thinking too. Not that they can anyhow, without X-Rays that is and even then, the deep injuries in the engine location of the horse cannot show a lot of the conditions that we encounter and which you see in the video's here. The Veterinary Colleges need to change their policies to take into account the viewing of ridden or lunging tests of horses which would help, but unless the Rider was trained in the identification of the problems, that would not help either.

Holland has just gone to Vet checks for horses before breaking in and what a great idea. There you are Vets, happy now?


By far the most prevalent are

  • the problems with 'stifles' or 'patella locking' problems.
  • Then there is the Sacroiliac tears.
  • Pelvic fractures
  •  Bone Chips
  • Calcification of the spine and other parts.
  • Tendon and ligament damage, thickening or enlargements.

and so many times, the problems are not recognized by Riders' and that is a tragedy caused by the inadequacies or the Curriculums of the various Equine teaching Organizations in this Country.

This has probably never been advanced before in the World of Equine Veterinary investigation but we can tell that the act of requesting a horse to put it's head down (call it whatever you like) triggers pain that increases with the advancement of the paces. The canter becomes the most difficult, that when the horse has to engage the rear end more and we can feel that there is a direct correlation between submissiveness and pain. Something happens to the Race Horse, something that has never been studies, questioned or investigated. Don't doubt me as it is such a shame to say that we are yet to be proven wrong when we label a horse.

Are there good ones?...of course there are but take a look at who is riding most of them. Don't kid yourself, they mostly aren't 'Novices.'


Think about this. Thousands of horses per day around my Country, are terrorized, flogged with whips, hit with spurs, jagged in the mouth and sent off to Horsemen for the good old 'tune up' translated into a good 'flogging'. Why? because they are "NAUGHTY HORSES"

I see it weekly, almost daily. I saw it at the Dressage last Sunday. Horses crying out for help, desperately trying to communicate to their owners through various means and because of the kindness of such horses, rarely dump their owners onto their sweet asses as they should. They just don't 'listen to their horses' They don't understand the 'language of eques'


It is a tragedy that people are not taught about the signs, how to read the horses, to even think about it. To consider that it may be a problem that the horse has rather than the horse being a problem. So for those of you who read this, here are some signs for you.

  • The horse doesn't want to weight bare on one of the hind legs.
  • The horse carries it's hind end to the inside or the outside, regardless of which way it is traveling
  • You cannot get the horse straight
  • The hind legs do not track through and are short in action.
  • Standing behind the squared up horse, you see muscle de-generation on one side of the rump
  • Temporarily locking of the stifle and up the scale
  • Bouncing on the back legs like a Kangaroo
  • Kicking up during canter transitions
  • A breaking from trot to canter on the spot when ridden round.
  • Difficult to keep the head down in a frame with the horse often and for no real reason, reefing it's head up, normally associated with a break to canter
  • Difficulty in walking down Hills and the horse wanting to zig zag to diminish the steepness.
  • A refusal or unwillingness to back up
  • Difficulty or unwillingness to flex
  • Walking off during the mounting process.
  • Excessive sweating in short time which exhibits pain
  • A fear of the Dressage arena and a marked reticence to enter into it.
  • Running away.
  • Difficulty in bending or leg yielding.
  • Stress.
  • 'Jig Jogging' for no reason
  • Bouncing or kicking up during flying changes.
  • Bolting when all else fails at telling the owner.
  • Rearing.
  • Stopping dead as they enter a canter pirouette.
  • Increasing speed and threatening to run during lines of flying changes.
  • Not showing any signs of problems when on a loose rein with the head in the face of the rider.
  • An unusual neck height, higher than normal.
  • Calcification of the lower back bone.
  • Clicking in the rear legs.
  • Marked incorrectness of wear on the rear hooves.
  • Bucking
  • Running backwards
  • Failure to go forward and coming behind the leg
  • A high percentage have stomach ulcers.
  • Continually changing leads on the back legs only during canter.
  • After video of the horse walking away, you see one side of the rump drop further than the other

Have you ever squared your horse up on cement and stood behind it to see if it's body is the same on both sides? Have you ever videoed your horse as it walks straight away from you and checked to see if one Rump goes lower than the other?


and the list goes on. How did you go, do you think about those things with your horse?. Is your Coach saying the horse is naughty? Has your Coach got on and given it a flogging over the jumps for a few weeks as one of these? Has the horse been sent to a Thug Trainer as one of these?  Congratulations if you have an open mine, an investigatory mind, given the horse the benefit of the doubt or finally come to the conclusion that the horse should ride off into the Sunset with a pleasure Rider? Congratulations.


Then you have the veritable "Chemist Shop' that often goes down their throat as they say in the Industry. Who knows what damage that may cause. The future arthritis and many other conditions caused by the stress, impact, and often force feeding and hormones prior to the Yearling Sales and the possible deleterious affects that may come later.


This is the sad area and the one that makes it so difficult for most Riders' to manage them. These include:

  • Wind Sucking
  • Weaving
  • Float wall climbers
  • Pull back tie up horses
  • Running, ever increasing speed, racing, failing to walk and even trot.
  • Terrible mouths
  • Can't put 'leg on' them without rocket eventualities.
  • Fear of loud noises, especially metallic, caused by the starting gates and often clapped out horse floats.


A huge percentage of these horses suffer from this debilitating disease of the mind which can extend to akin to the Human locked in the Mental Institution and smashing it's head against the wall all day. You can't see it when you buy them and it is often Masked or not mentioned at Point of Sale as was the case with this one.



Many have had floating accidents of various degrees of intensity and/or suffer from separation anxiety in the float. Many climb the walls of floats, paw incessantly and travel badly, arriving in a lather of sweat. This is caused by the lack of care during Racing and Training, terrible Horse Floats, bad drivers who are normally late and who only think of one thing. The Million Dollar paycheck.! :(


An extremely high percentage of these horses suffer from stomach ulcers and it is said by the Veterinary Community that this can cause a lot of their problems. Investigate that and it is treatable. I disagree that this is the singular cause however.

the frustrations are too many too list and I had better shut up about it.

The thing is, I strongly warn everyone to steer clear of them unless they are 'thrill seekers', a 'hectare short in the top paddock', have money to burn or  they just want to prove themselves against all the odds. "Don't Bother" as few have succeeded.


Rarely can you replicate the true horse on the owners premises. Highly dangerous to take on face value the behavior of the horse there. I would never consider one of these horses without a trial on your property, to have floated it AND taken it to a Show to tie up at the float.

VETERINARY & THE X RACE HORSE   and if you don't believe the Horseman, then read this:

 Dr. JOHN KOHNKE IMPORTANT HINTS  one of (Australias top Vets.)


Take care



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