Thinking of Getting an OTTB?
 
 

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Thinking of Getting an OTTB?

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  • OTTB sore after trim in back
  • Ottb crash

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    10-07-2013, 04:19 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Thinking of Getting an OTTB?

I apologise if this has been posted before. I have been working with OTTB's for years, but lately I've been working with alot. I see lots of people having trouble with them, and buying one, then getting upset when they have issues, so I thought I would start this as a sort of...manual for people who are contemplating an OTTB. I'm no expert, but I thought I would give my 2 cents. Feel free to add on.

Training
an Off The Track Thoroughbred has, as the name implies, been on the race track. Even if a thoroughbred has not been raced, but it has a lip tattoo, it has been trained for the track. This training is done better with some horses than others. I have seen some come off the track with a lovely stop, soft mouth, nice back up. Many pull into the bit with iron hard mouths, rush around in a hurry with their heads in the air, evading the bit at slower speeds, take the opportunity to run off at the slightest excuse, and don't know the meaning of stop, relax or back up. Most are some where in the middle. Many have no ground work, and don't know how to tie. They are led with a chain or ring bit. Their day is typically, come out, get groomed and tacked quickly, run, cool off on the hot walker, go back in the stall. 22-23 hours a day stalled, 1-2 (that's being generous), being worked with.

Side Effects of The Track Life

The hours of boredom punctuated by short periods of intense activity wreak havoc on a horse mentally, and a combination of that and being worked hard young can cause physical problems. Horses that crib and weave are common. Soundness issues are very common. Tendon and joint problems, slab fractures and sore feet from incorrect trimming are seen often. If you are considering an ottb for a demanding sport, have it vetted very thoroughly.

Breed

Thoroughbreds are a hot breed. They are bred to be incredibly fast and athletic. They typically have lots of endurance and speed. While each individual is different, breed should be factored in. If you are looking for an excessively quiet companion to plod along a local trail once a month, this is likely not the breed for you. They have lots of heart and will often work themselves to death if you ask it.

Individuals

Every horse is an individual, and should be treated as such. Some are quiet. Some are naturally forgiving of mistakes and well suited to a confident beginner(with a suitable amount of after track training). Some make great trail horses. Some are fireballs that only an experienced handler should touch. Like any breeds, some are nuts, mean, unpredictable, flighty, while others are kind, steady, loyal, hard working. Take an experienced friend with you, evaluate the horse and owner.

Rehab

You have a thoroughbred fresh off the track, and are aware of what you have gotten your self into. Now what? Well, first step is usually to pull the shoes and trim them properly. Many OTTB's come with horribly shod feet, typically long toes and under run heels. They often need to make a slow transition to barefoot, so make sure the footing is soft right off the bat. Then they need time. Kick them out for 6 months. Some are hyped up on high calorie feeds, a unnatural lifestyle and supplements/drugs. Others are just plain drained and exhausted. They need time to learn to be a horse again, and for their bodies to re set. After that, start retraining. Take your time and have fun!

I personally love these horses, and would like to see them all eventually in suitable homes, with jobs they enjoy. They are hard working, talented horses suitable for a number of disciplines. I believe one of the keys to avoiding unhappy ottb's and their owners is knowledge. People should educate themselves well, and have understanding people around to help them work through difficulties. Choosing a horse that is appropriate to your skill level and suitable for the riding you do is essential, with any horse.
jaydee, rookie, Chokolate and 3 others like this.
     
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    10-07-2013, 04:36 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
Can I add that many of these horses have never lived what we think of as a 'natural' life - to them living in a large field with a bunch of other horses, enduring all weather and bugs is anything but natural and will be very stressful for them if they get thrown in at the deep end
They are also used to being on busy yards where the staff usually have a firm, no nonsense approach to handling them. They feel secure with this - you remove that comfort blanket and a well behaved horse can become a bully really quickly, a less confident one can turn into a bag of nerves and a high geared one uncontrollable.
     
    10-07-2013, 05:25 PM
  #3
Weanling
I LOVE this thread - I have an OTTB - she's been ridden by my sons briefly before having a foal and just relaxing for the past 12 months. She's 15, raced for a couple of years when she was 2 and as far as we're aware, done not much in the way of riding since. She doesn't know leg cues, but responds to voice commands perfectly. She lunges like a trooper and we've had the usual hoof problems (we've never had her in shoes and have 4 weekly trims to correct bad trimming which is suiting her fine).
She's definitley a "grumpy mare" unless you have food, then she's the sweetest horse around, produces A1 foals (her seventh and last with us) and is due to start light work with us shortly to build up her muscle again which from past experience, wont take long.
We'll be getting a trainer in to help with riding her next year but we've walked her about 2 miles down a very busy road to transport her from one of our fields to another and she walks better than our dog! When we do have a trailer, she loads like a dream with no fuss at all. She's curious, but not spooky at all. If she's not able to be ridden, then she'll be a pasture mate with her foal - but she's wonderful and will let you do anything you ask to her and stand for hours but LOVES to run in the field and is truly a beautiful site to see. She has our hearts xx
     
    10-07-2013, 09:08 PM
  #4
Yearling
Thank you so much for starting this, can't wait to follow along. I'm not much for romantizing things, but I do have a dream of having an OTTB after my been there-done that first horse retired. I don't see myself being able to start one off the track, but like the idea of finding one that's already gotten some retraining. One of my big questions is how to find someone reputable who's restarted them right. Some of the dedicated OTTB rescues seem to turn them around so quickly...
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    10-07-2013, 10:52 PM
  #5
Foal
I love OTTBs!
I just recently purchased a 4 y/o OTTB. He is soooo quiet and easy-going.
He is pretty much a blank slate and I'm hoping to turn him into a jumper. Rehoming and finding new careers for OTTBs is so rewarding. They are athletic, have a good work ethic/love to work and make amazing sport horses. My youngster cross-ties, bathes, just gave him a body clip tonight and he couldn't have cared less about the electric clippers, he is pretty much BOMBPROOF/SPOOK PROOF.
I have had my 4 y/o for 5 months now and he now goes w/t/c in a frame, pole work and started over small jumps/gymnastics. The trick is to take it nice and slow and give lots of rewards.
Giving a 2nd chance to these wonderful athletics is wonderful.
I recommend OTTBs.
     
    10-08-2013, 02:29 AM
  #6
Yearling
Thank you! I love TB's, ottb's or not! I just love them :) My boy now is 3/4 tb, and I LOVE him! He's so intelligent!
     
    10-08-2013, 01:56 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Quote:
to them living in a large field with a bunch of other horses, enduring all weather and bugs is anything but natural and will be very stressful for them if they get thrown in at the deep end
I think this deserves expanding upon. We had a gelding come to us strait from the track, through an auction. He was very thin, had bad ulcers and was a weaver. He was 10 years old, and so frazzled and exhausted he was painful to watch. All he knew how to do was stand in a stall and weave. We finally picked a nice, easy going buddy for him, but he didn't know how to communicate with his own species. After giving him a month to try and fit in, he still just stood in the corner of the corral nearest the barn, weaving desperately. We finally kicked him out with the herd on 70 acres. He came in once a day for extra feed. He ignored the other horses and stood weaving at the gate for a couple weeks before he finally started leaving with the other horses. At first it was just for a half hour, but gradually he stopped weaving and became part of the herd. It was pretty cool to see him becoming a horse again. We have had some that reacted very badly to bugs and had to be on anti histamines for a month or two, and several that would not grow a coat for the first season.

Quote:
how to find someone reputable who's restarted them right. Some of the dedicated OTTB rescues seem to turn them around so quickly...
interesting question. Even my BO doesn't advertise as anything specific, just individual horses advertised separately. I would suggest looking at sales adds, and taking someone very knowledgeable with you, and of course, listen to your gut when it comes to feeling out sellers. Just from my personal experience, be very careful with places that advertise as 'rescues'. I have seen way too many that pick up horses from auctions at meat prices, invest the minimum in vet care and little to no training, then tack a couple hundred on and feel good about 'rehoming'.
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    10-08-2013, 06:26 PM
  #8
Foal
For those of you who have never seen an OTTB "crash", heads up! After coming off the track (and the calorie and supplement packed diet), many many TBs go through what we call a crash period. They lose a TON of weight and often hair, get foot sore, etc etc. Very scary to see for a new owner, but this is pretty normal. If any of you have pics of an OTTB before, during and after the crash, might be good to post! Like others have mentioned, some OTTBs get very worried when they're turned out at first - we usually increase their pasture time slowly over a week or two. I've seen OTTBs start packing 10 yr olds over courses within a month of coming off the track, and I've seen some who 5 years later were so crazy only trainers could get on them. It all depends on personality and how they were treated at the track.
     
    10-08-2013, 08:34 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by z28gal    
For those of you who have never seen an OTTB "crash", heads up! After coming off the track (and the calorie and supplement packed diet), many many TBs go through what we call a crash period. They lose a TON of weight and often hair, get foot sore, etc etc. Very scary to see for a new owner, but this is pretty normal. If any of you have pics of an OTTB before, during and after the crash, might be good to post! Like others have mentioned, some OTTBs get very worried when they're turned out at first - we usually increase their pasture time slowly over a week or two. I've seen OTTBs start packing 10 yr olds over courses within a month of coming off the track, and I've seen some who 5 years later were so crazy only trainers could get on them. It all depends on personality and how they were treated at the track.
Yes, I agree. When I purchased my 4 year old OTTB, he was going through his "crash/down" time. He was about 250lbs underweight. (Skinny neck, ribs showing and no topline.) I treated him for ulcers (just to be safe), gave him all the hay he could eat, and a Fat&Fibre diet.
-> 5 months later, you wouldn't even recognize him. (Glossy coat, muscle, a nice thick neck, well formed hindend - you can still see his ribs a little tiny bit but he looks amazing.)

Also, my boy was TERRIFIED of going outside. We couldn't even get him to step foot into a paddock for the first month and a half. He'd stand infront of the gate and turn to stone...wouldn't budge. Finally got him to go out, and he'd just stand by the fence wanting to come back in .... he preferred the comfort of his stall. Now .... he gets turnout with tons of horsey friends for 6 hours a day and he loves it. Although he's happy to come in at the end of the day.

I'll have to find photos.
     
    11-24-2013, 06:55 PM
  #10
Foal
training resources for my OTTB

I am starting my journey with a wonderful OTTB 10 YO gelding. He has had his let-down period, and a year of TLC and trail riding. He's quiet, steady, doesn't spook -- really a nice guy. I have been riding for 40 years, but this is my first training project. I am looking for ideas for how to work on two issues at the moment:

(1) He can get a bit panicky in the cross ties. He will be fine for a while then suddenly start to "bounce" and tremble. I unhook him, try to soothe and reassure him, put him back in his stall where he is comfortable, then bring him back out. Have also given treats while cross-tied. Any suggestions or experience with similar behavior?

(2) He is doing very well at the walk and trot in an arena/ring, getting better at turning (needs a lot of work in this regard) and is learning how to be in a frame. The bigger challenge is his canter. I need to teach him how to do a much, much smaller canter that is appropriate for the arena or ring. He also needs to learn how to turn at the canter (hold the canter through the short side of the arena, later we can think about cantering a circle). Does anyone have any recommendations for how to approach this? Longing, round pen work? He is used to cantering in straight lines out on trails and does a very leaning, stiff turn at this point.
Any suggestions, including of resources (books, videos, etc.), would be greatly appreciated.
     

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