I think there is value in being pragmatic about this, and looking at it from all angles, including @leheath’s (which, BTW, I am sorry to read that it didn’t work out for you - I hope your next horse does). The reality of the situation is you might not get what you want - the horse may not want to play the sport you pick, it might get hurt or sick or die before you ever get a chance to ride it, or the mare you pick to breed might slip the pregnancy and you might never see a foal at all. But it is worth trying, if you are confident in your training abilities and rearing of young horses.
Heads up, this turned into a novella.
I will say that I took this journey myself – well, I’m in the process of it (I’ll let you know how it all pans out in two years’ time.) I’ve spent my whole life retraining other people’s projects, picking up cheap OTTBs to retrain, and riding whatever I could find on a budget. It meant I rode a lot of horses with issues; some were fixable, some weren’t. I spent a lot of time (and money!) unraveling the knots of physical baggage from past careers or training, and endured a lot of setbacks that I wouldn’t necessarily endured in a horse that didn’t race or get hurt. I’m not saying these horses weren’t wonderful - every one of them was in their own way, but I can’t tell you how many times I’d (or my trainer) would say things like: I wish I got this horse as a foal, I wish I got her before she raced, I wish I’d found him before he ended up with a DDFT injury, etc…
Because I think we could have gone so much further, in much shorter a time, if we didn’t have to not only undo the physical complaints from racing or their previous career, but also fix things: like really bad trim angles (which can take months), discomfort in their bodies from ill-fitting tack, gaps in their training etc… Many of these cheap finds weren’t bred or built for what I wanted to do - so while they could event, it wasn’t always easy – or at least, natural – for them to do. And then there was the heartbreak of finding out some of these horses had career-limiting past injuries that didn’t really show up until their workload increased to th real demands of (eventing) Training, or Prelim, or 2nd level – one of those super nice TBs is sitting in my front yard, retired for the last 15 years, because once the real work started it became apparent his old stifle injury from the track would follow him for the rest of his life, but he was too honest to say no…
So, I ended up with a foal. It was not my first - I also started and sold two PMU yearlings ten years ago - but this was my first sport horse foal. A fourth month old Hanoverian filly. I think life has been exceptionally generous to me in that it was sheer luck and overwhelming generosity of her breeder that allowed me to get this filly, and not money (which I didn’t have) or an extraordinary training talent (which I don’t have either).
But starting a foal from scratch has been a life-long dream of mine, and it’s been amazing every step of the way. I was very reserved at first about getting too attached to her. Stupid, I know - but I’ve had a lot of setbacks these last fifteen years, including the sudden and unexpected death of one of my BEST horses ever. We’d finally scratched the surface of what he was truly capable of, and I lost him. Then, the horse I’d been steadily bringing alongside him got kicked by a paddock mate and had to be PTS. Then I found a really nice TB and he had a freak pasture accident where he broke two ribs and three different parts of his pelvis… I was thinking then and there I would be done with horses after this guy, and that’s partly how I ended up with this lovely filly. I house & horse-sat for the breeder often, even took care of this filly’s momma while she was baking in the oven - the breeder was aware of all of these little horse misfortunes and I got the deal of a lifetime with this nice filly.
Anyway, all of that aside to say that it has been amazing bringing this filly along. She is five years old now. I’ve had her since she was four months old and she was so tiny my SO and I literally picked her up and put her in the trailer to bring her home. She’s 17hh now. I am just marveling how different it is bringing along a horse where you have been in full control of every experience they have in life. No more undoing ugly tangled physical knots. No more struggling to teach them to load or chill at a new venue. Every experience this filly has had her entire life has been POSITIVE. She has no negative experiences to undo.
And that has made training and starting her so easy. Things I thought I couldn’t do well, like teach a horse to leg yield straightly, or teach a horse to jump like a hunter – these things come so easy and naturally to her. And it made me realize that I don’t suck at these things - I was just partaking in the Sisyphean Task of trying to make these TBs and project horses into something that didn’t come naturally to them. I’ve always felt a bit of ‘imposter syndrome’ with training horses and this made me realize how much more easy it is when you have the right kind of horse. A horse bred for what you’re doing.
Starting her was so easy. No run-aways, no fighting for control, no bolt or buck or tense horse that I spent weeks trying to relax. She picked up W/T/C like that; she tends to get a little flat and has a more huntery way of going, but the rhythm – something I struggled so much with the TBs – was there on DAY one. The contact came naturally, the impulsion followed right after. She is now schooling at the same level as one of my TBs I’ve had off-track for five years (he had his own setbacks, most blameless).
Two weeks ago, we did our first ever cross country schooling. Brown logs, bank, ditch, and a mini course at the end finishing around BN height. Not a single refusal, not a single foot wrong. In the scheme of things this was such a small accomplishment, but you should have seen my big, stupid smile when I was bringing her back to the trailer.
I think that made all of it worth it.