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.
Last edited by equiniphile; 08-20-2010 at 10:32 PM.