I don't currently have an OTTB, but I plan to get one when I do get a horse. In the mean time I find myself doing LOTS of research on retraining, letting down, injuries that may have occurred on the track and what they might mean for future riding careers, problems you might run into while acclimating them to their new environment and...of course...the all important how to feed them...but for some reason its just not clicking for me. That may be because I have never been responsible for making that decision for a horse before.
I will most likely be boarding the horse when I get one and from what I understand it would not be a good idea just to pick a grain from the ones fed at the boarding facility and call it a day. They need a little more customization in their diet, at least when they come right off the track. So heres what I've gained from my research and what my current feeding plan would be...unless someone has some major objections. (I understand that AMOUNTS of these will change depending on the particular horse in question, this is just a guide line, generic "this is what you feed an OTTB" list)
-I've come to the conclusion that it is best to feed a high quality senior feed due to the higher fat content and lower sugar content than the sweet feed racehorses are fed. This will help them gain weight and get rid of their "grain high". What I can't seem to figure out is, do you wean them off of the sweet feed and gradually introduce the senior feed so not to shock their system? Or do you drop the sweet fed right away and switch them over ASAP? I've found both sides of the argument, but haven't found anything really solid to back either side up.
-It may be a good idea to feed something like beet pulp(soaked of course) and/or hay stretcher to add bulk, fiber and help a bit more with the weight gain. But again, is it one or the other or both in perfect harmony...I'm baffled on that one.
-To my understanding hay should be offered free choice, if they're willing to keep eating then they keep getting it. The debate comes in when you start talking about alfalfa, some think it's wonderful in moderation mixed with 'lesser' hay (timothy) and pasture, others act like its the work of the devil and should be avoided at all costs due to its richness. I see both arguments, although I think I'm leaning towards the alfalfa is ok in moderation....thoughts?
-Oils....another baffling item. I understand why, to add extra calories and fat without adding bulk...but WHAT, is my question. I've seen rice bran, straight vegetable oil, fish oils, wheat germ oils....is an oil an oil or is one better than the other for the purpose of weight gain?
-Ulcer treatments. To my understanding, the OTTBs likely have them even if they're not showing signs when they come off the track, or they're going to get them shortly after they come off due to the change in diet, schedule, work load, scenery etc etc etc. Therefore it's a nice thought to put them on a treatment just in case. But, are all ulcer treatments/preventatives created equal or does one stand head and heels above the rest? Suggestions please!
Am I missing anything? Does the plan look good or does it look like I'm planning on shoving too many things down my potential horse's throat?
Like I said I'm doing a lot of research so I am absolutely prepared when the great day comes when I can finally have my own
Good, thorough answers will be going into my "Buying an OTTB" folder on my computer...where all good articles and suggestions go on the subject.