Can someone give me the rundown on pinhooking? how to get started, what is involved, how does it work?

The simple explanation is pinhooking is buying a TB at a young age and reselling months or a year later for more money. It is most commonly done with weanlings (or short yearlings) pinhooked to yearlings, with or yearlings that are then resold as 2yos in training.

The best way to get started is to save your money. :wink:


lol ok!
does one need to be a member or licensed anywhere etc.?
so just get a nice weanling somewhere and go from there?

Basically, yes. The trick is to buy a weanling that is undervalued in its current spot. It might be immature or maybe doesn’t show well–things that you can improve on over the coming months.

You don’t need a license or to be a member of anything–however, if you are planning to shop for the weanling at a sale (like Keeneland or Fasig Tipton) you do need to establish credit with the sales company and be approved to bid before you jump in. (Otherwise you need to be prepared to pay cash on the spot.)

Good luck!

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Like many things in the horse world, it looks easy when done by experts. Yes, find a weanling with potential for improvement - that’s the easy part - and then improve it. This side of the Atlantic, most pinhooking is done by specialists. They tend to know the Studbook inside out and upside down, they have a very keen eye for foals (which is a particular knack), they know and are known by the auction houses where they will hopefully be selling on, they are experts on nutrition, on exercise regimes and physical development, have top notch farriery. They usually have very good presentation skills. Pinhooking is labour intensive (often involving a lot of walking in hand to build muscle and topline) and the youngsters need space to run around as they grow. Then add in the risk implicit in any horse ownership and the animal might not ever reach the auction ring, dispite the investment.

Not quite pinhooking but…
A top notch Newmarket farrier told the story of working for months on a foal with a problem knee, at the stud where it was born. Weanling went off to the sales and the farrier gave a huge sigh of relief as the problem passed on to someone else.

A few days later, at the yard of one of his clients, the Trainer said “I bought a horse at the sales that I would like you to look at as I think you will be able to sort him out. He was cheap because his knee isn’t quite right”. And out of the stable steps the same horse…


ok thats funny

Anyone know the etymology of pinhooking as term in this context? I keep thinking hooks and pins on dairy cattle or tail hooking… :frowning:

No need to frown unless you’re anit-tobacco.

Some pinhooking success can be like hitting the lottery… such as buying a bargain weanling from a less popular new stallion whose get hits it big the next year at the track. Or having the dam get a huge update after your purchase.

Most pinhookers are after the same thing…a “hidden gem” with an upcoming female family. You can get a deal buying at more regional sales, picking out the less-developed, poorly prepped weanlings who have good basic structure and just need better management. Sometimes a good physical can still bring decent money on a yearling with moderate pedigree.

Keep in mind the costs of prepping for sale, if you don’t do it yourself. Back when I managed Eaton, sales prep board was $35/day from May to September. Add in a full set of sales Xrays. Say nothing goes wrong. You won’t be making a profit buying a $1k weanling in November and reselling it for $5k in September.

If you don’t have much to invest, it might be wiser to spend your $1k with 4 other friends (and split the board costs), buy a $5k weanling who may resell for $15k as a yearling.


Thanks On_the_Farm - now I know.

Now I picture a yearling with a paper pinned to its butt.

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A strategy we have used is to look for nice short yearlings at the January and February sales. We look for yearlings by stallions whose first crop are two year olds about to hit the track later in the year. If you think a young stallion will hit with some precocious two year olds in the summer, and you end up being right, then the buzz that creates may bring you a profit with your short yearling at the September sale. Of course, good radiographs and a good scope are important when you buy, and a decent female family helps too. Good luck!

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