My dad had an OTTB when I was little that he used as a trail horse, and he was the calmest horse we owned back then. I don't know if he was just a strange exception to OTTB but we never had problems with him, ever. When he had just came of the track he was calm and gentle, and never bucked or kicked or freaked out. I remember being 3 years old and standing underneath him brushing his belly and he could care less.
Honestly, I've never met a crazy OTTB thoroughbred or on-the-track-thoroughbred. My aunt races thoroughbreds, and anytime I'm in the barn right after they just finished their race or I'm just hanging out at her barn their always super sweet horses, spirited, but sweet none the less. Now, don't get me wrong their are many OTTB's that are dangerous and need a lot of work, but after some work they can be the best, sweetest horse you have ever met
We've owned three OTTB's, one was my mom's 15 years ago and two I have now for myself. They're dirt cheap, you can always get some fresh off-the-track horses for dirt cheap, $200, even free where there's an abundance. OTTB's are everywhere because breeders and racers race them, try them, and if they're not working off their upkeep in winnings, they sell them. Only a few of the horses racers get their hands on actually stay with the owner for any great length of time, so you can imagine there's a ton out there.
As for Western riding....They're notorious for their bumpy, springy, jostling trot, which most Western riders don't like for showing, as they need a mount with a smooth jog for Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, etc. Trail riders don't like them because the breed is naturally flighty and skittish, often spooking and bolting when in doubt. That leaves not many Western riders. Thoroughbreds, both OT and non-raced, make excellent jumpers, dressage mounts, english pleasure horses, etc. They're kind of like the English version of the Western rider's favored Quarter Horse.
One point to note, though. If you're new to OTTBs and do decide to take one in, please have a trainer work with the horse for at least a month or two. It'll save you the headache and get the horse on the right track, where you can finish him.
>>>> TBs aren't really built for Western disciplines. Sure, you can throw a Western saddle on them, but the way they're put together conformationally doesn't make them suitable as Western show horses.
Actually, it can depend on the TB. I have a TB mare who was a successful sprint racer, and she often gets mistaken for a QH because she is shorter, wider, and has more muscle than most people's mental image of an off-track TB. She also has a pretty head which is shorter than some TB heads, with a wide forehead, smaller muzzle, and a big eye, which adds to the QH impression.
The body shot below is at her leanest-- I had just bought her and it was taken just before I brought her home last fall, she was nursing a big 5 month old colt-- but even in out of shape and slightly lean broodmare condition, you can still see her deep body and substantial frame, her muscled front and rear quarters, and more sprinterly balance.
I think she could cross over into Western pretty well.
I don't really know much about OTTB (I'm more interested in the Standardbreds), but here is a link to a rescue that rehomes these guys for next to nothing compared to what they put into these horses. I don't know where you live, but there are several sites they adopt out of in the mid-west here. They have everything ranging from fresh off the track 2 year olds with no lameness issues (just weren't competetive, etc) to older horses who were re-trained and the owners could no longer keep them for various reasons. I'm sure if you contacted them they could really help you out with understanding what all goes into retraining, etc. They are very thorough and knowledgeable about what they do.
I'm not sure... but I think they aren't really expensive and I think they're actually cheap.... A boy in 4H runs his OTTB in barrels and let me tell you that horse is soo fast so I don't think you HAVE to use it for english or anything...
While I can't really picture any western saddle fitting my OTTB due to his shark fin withers, he is an absolute mountain goat on the trails. I wouldn't worry about trail riding ablility. I'd more worry about going out on a 16.2 hand horse on trails that are trimmed for smaller Quarter Horses. I do a lot of limbo-ing when I'm out trail riding!
Seriously, TB's can be fantastic horses. You just have to find one with a good mind.
My wife has one. I dunno what all was really done with him before we got him after the track. He was at a camp, and too much for the campers. So the wife bought him, and we had him for quite some time before I did anything with him because he was over MY head. But some advice from a friend and I started riding him, got him to the point that the better half would get on him. And she's improved much from him.
She thinks he's becoming a "one person horse," but I don't know about that. I get along ok with him, he's relatively bomb proof, and acts VERY nice on trails. By himself he's still a hotblood to the bone. But he's rideable and my wife likes him, so that's about all there is to it.
I seriously believe there's ones that are a LOT better than this one, however from what we have, you can do a lot with one. Ours isn't doing too bad considering what he was when we got him (herd bound, butt headed, etc).
And that comes from a guy who probably wouldn't have posted anything in a thread like this two years ago except "why waste your time with a TB, much less an old race horse."
I had 2 TB's. Ozzie i've had for almost 6 years. I got him at the age of 12 and he evented after he raced. He retired from racing because he bowed his tendon. I bought him educated for $2000. Worth his weight in gold! He's a bit spooky and he gets hot, he's also the laziest horseo out there! HAAHAHAHA I would have to push him every step in dressage then when it comes to xc he was in a strong bit and he was all fired up! He's not a tb looking tb.
I also just got a OTTB in January. He's looks like a TB! Hahaha
I don't have a good photo of him on this computer. But he's tall lanky and all legs. He's also got bad feet, hard to keep weigh on, and runs around like a nut! Hahahaha he's also only 5 years old :) I got him for nothing!