Tips for training OTTB's - add yours!

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Tips for training OTTB's - add yours!

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  • Good training tips for ottb
  • aggressive horse in stall

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    09-08-2010, 05:10 PM
Green Broke
Tips for training OTTB's - add yours!

I thought I would start a thread to help anyone that is looking at buying an OTTB or has one already and wants further advice. I guess I am biased as I have owned and trained so many that I could officially be called an addict

Here we go:

-When you are looking at an OTTB, soundness is a real issue, especially with respect to leg/tendon/ligament damage. Vet checks are great but if you can't have a vet look at the horse, take someone experienced with you to look for soundness issues, old injuries and conformational advice.

-Once they have finished racing, turn them out in a good pasture and give them a few months 'let down' period. They are fed some pretty potent supplements so it is always a good idea to let everything work it's way out of their system before you begin working with them. The key is good quality hay and roughage and plenty of it. Also, being at the track can be a very high stress environment for a horse so a bit of time off is always a good thing.

-When you bring them back into work, treat them like a green broke horse, sure they are fine to ride but they need to be completely re-educated to establish three even, balanced gaits. If it takes a month, great that is really quick, if it takes six months, don't worry the extra time spent in the beginning will serve you well in the future.

-Don't rush their training, just because they pick things up quickly doesn't necessarily mean that the basics are firmly entrenched in their mind.

-Get their teeth checked. Although some trainers are very good about regular dentistry they are few and far between. Most OTTB's will be 4-8 years old when they finish racing and many have never seen a dentist in their whole life.

-Introduce new diets slowly and be ready for them to drop some weight when they come off the track. A racehorse diet contains far more calories than what the average horse is fed, again good quality roughage is key.

-Before you take them out to compete, take them to a show without entering them in any events and see how they handle the atmosphere. Most OTTB's think they are back at the track when they see all the horses, trailers and commotion so taking them out without the stress of competing is a good way to ease them into competition life.

-Patience patience patience!

Anyone care to add more? I will probably add more things as I think of them
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    09-11-2010, 09:25 AM
Use some common sense and don't just go on what the trainer of the horse tells you. I've seen horses labeled as dangerous and crazy who turned out to be in a lot of pain.
If possible have the person who usually handled the horse lead it around for you and pick up the feet, put on a halter, blanket ect. To see how they handle the horse can give you a good idea of how well it is ground trained. It can also show you if the horse is really excitable or if they are unknowingly provoking it.
We had a 3 year old stallion show up at our barn labelled as dangerously aggressive to the point of needing two handlers if he was going out of his stall for more then the split second it took to walk him into a second stall. We where told we had to always lip chain him and carry a whip when handling him. It was three days before I was the one asked to move him. Having seen him come off the trailer and go straight for the closest person teeth bared and front legs flailing I was ready with a chain. After been dragged aroung the stall for a few minutes and strugglin I finally got hold of his top lip and was about to put the chain under it when I got a clear look at it. It looked like raw hamburger meat. I stepped back and took another look at the horse. His head was up, he was shaking and his eyes where rolled back in his head. I gave him a minute to calm down then gently placed the chain over his nose and stepped away. He followed like a puppy dog. I called all the other grooms in the barn over and explained what I had found. Within a week anyone could lead him with just a normal lead rope or just by taking hold of his halter and leading him. He was the best horse in the barn for handling.
    09-15-2010, 09:05 AM
Green Broke
^^Agreed, the trainers often have a very different approach when dealing with racehorses to what us as owners have. Often means there are big changes in behaviour once they leave that environment.

Those lip chains can really do some damage hey? It was probably half the reason he was so hard to handle!
    09-15-2010, 10:06 AM
Don't expect them to know what cross ties are!
    09-15-2010, 10:06 PM
Amen on the dentist part. My 4 year old had his baby teeth still growing sideways in his gums. We're talking sharp 3" daggers. I felt so badly for him. All fixed now, but definitely get their teeth looked at.
    09-17-2010, 12:37 AM
Originally Posted by IntentionalFamily    
Don't expect them to know what cross ties are!
In Australia cross ties are used everywhere - at the training stalls and at racetracks.
All the horses I work with have never been tied just with a normal lead rope.

Also in some cases go invest in a lead bit and double clip lead.
These items are not cruel - as many people tell me.
All racehorses in Australia (dont know about where else in the world) must have lead bits on at all times.
They do help when the horse is being a prick and generally strong.
    09-17-2010, 09:45 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by IntentionalFamily    
Don't expect them to know what cross ties are!
Sounds like you had a bad experience?

I think you may have been unlucky, most horses that come off the track are pretty good about being tied, it is one of the few things they usually know how to do! Same as any horse that you buy I guess, assume they don't know until they prove to you otherwise.
    09-17-2010, 09:46 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
Amen on the dentist part. My 4 year old had his baby teeth still growing sideways in his gums. We're talking sharp 3" daggers. I felt so badly for him. All fixed now, but definitely get their teeth looked at.
Ouch! Makes you wonder if his racing career would have been different if he wasn't so preoccupied with being stabbed in the side of the mouth each time he was running...
    09-21-2010, 01:25 AM
My OTTB is more like a donkey than a former race horse, he will stand in cross ties all day and is generally the most lazy thing around, I have to push in a canter and ride with a whip. However the few times I have ridden him with other horses he transforms and prances wants to race. Which is perfectly understandable, that is what he was taught to do. Sadly my barn is mainly teaching disabled and novice riders, and so I cannot get him used to it there.
He has a hard time standing to mount, but is getting better when I face him to a wall and am stern, but he still walks off a little.

He is doing no wrong in this, it is just different from my goals and what he has been taught to do. I believe OTTBs need some patience as they are just doing what they know.
    09-24-2010, 02:14 PM
Here is mny daughter and her OTTB Juno. A little bit of a brat, he just needs clear directions. She mostly rides jumper, but here we were on a little trail ride.


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