Anyone have experience retraining ottb? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Anyone have experience retraining ottb?

I'm not quite sure what I'm dealing with yet, but I could use all the help I could get! My friend, whose horses we work with, just adopted two ottbs. I'm going to get their tatoo #'s and do some research on their previous training and try to track down what their lives have been like since the track. For now all we know; William we think is 9, and Sambo about 16. Both were severly malnurished, William is now only about 1-200 lbs underweight, but Sambo has further to go. My plan is to work with William and I started by lunging yesterday. He did great and has great ground manners, but had only two speeds on the and faster! I'm sure that he will slow down with time and patience, but I want to do this the right way. We do have another gal who will be helping take care of these guys who is a race horse trainer, and she will be helping me, but I'm not sure how much help she will be because she is used to training them to go "fast", not the other way around. My plan is to go slow, only lunging (no tack at first), then progress to tacking him up and lunging, and not mounting until I feel I have control on the lunge. I have only worked with slower going qh types in the past that I worked hard to get "forward", and now I have to do the opposite while preserving the "forward". HHMMMMM :roll: Any help/advice would be great! Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 02:16 PM
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There are several people on the forum who have retrained or are in the process of retraining ottb's. I'll offer my 2 cents...

They may know how to excercise on the lunge (as you have seen), but they aren't really trained to lunge. Also, keep in mind that ottb's often go faster when they are unbalanced...and believe me, they can be the most unbalanced horses you'll ever train, at the beginning:P Concentrate on using your body language and teaching voice commands: it might take awhile, but they usually get it.

Rein pressure = go faster to an ottb. Learn to ride quitely and with your seat. If you have taught voice commands well on the lunge, use them: the younger/more untrained a horse is, the more I talk to it while working.

Bucking is often a sign of being unbalanced and frustrated with it.

OTTB's are often very stiff to the left, and may not be very flexible at all overall. Bending and suppling excercises are very important, as well as long, relaxed warm-ups prior to work. It may take a long time before you have a soft, supple horse, but keep at it.

Don't rush the canter in training: you want a balanced walk and trot foundation first. You'll often hear people asking why they can't get thier ottb to pick up the right lead in the canter, bucks at the canter, etc... this is why. The horse is not really ready yet.
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post #3 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Wow!!!! Incredible, you just described William, he didn't go well at all to the left........I just figured it was tension because this was the first time I had ever lunged. He did buck once when he got a bit faster and unbalanced. Your two cents was worth a million! Thank you!
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post #4 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 04:44 PM
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Like Sara said, the key is to take it slow, especially not to rush into canter work. If you are used to needing to push slow horses forward, there are a few key things you can do with your body at the trot to ask for slow.

Keep your hands light and steady, and your legs very still. Tb's typically respond to the slightest bit of leg pressure just because they are very sensitive horses. Use your posting to help slow them down,by posting a hair slower than they're actually trotting. Often, they will come back to stay in rhythm with you.

A lot of the beginning work is getting them to move comfortably in a smaller ring. They are used to big open areas with no sharp turns. There's a world of difference between a racetrack and a lunge circle.

Sara: thanks for your input too. I've worked with a lot of ottb's, but I haven't done their initial training. Those are all great things to keep in mind.

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post #5 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 04:48 PM
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I have a 4 yr old OTTB who is just as sweet as can be ... but she is very stiff so we do a lot of trotting circles, across the diagonal, figure 8s and serpentines ... also we have to take it slow when lounging ... She doesn't get the concept. She tries to run as fast as she can and then stops and looks at me like look i did it, im done. So i am working on just trotting and walking (which is hard at times) ...

I have also noticed that having her feet done, and done well has helped her feel more confident.

A lot of patience and repetition has helped me out ... she is better when i ride her then when i lounge her as well, kind of random but it's true ...

Anywho as i figure out more things i will share ... :)

:: Karley ::
Tucker WB/TB- 11 yr
Speedy QH/TB- 22 yr
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post #6 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 05:22 PM
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ottbs arent really completely broken in. they are taught to go really fast in a big circle and eventually stop when they are ready lol

in the past ive approached retraining an ottb like i were dealing with a young, green horse and spend a lot of time on groundwork. lunging is an important place to teach him what he needs to know under saddle. plus the added advantage of lunging time is you can smooth out imperfections from the relative safety of the ground rather than in the saddle.

an old ottb i had years ago struggled with the concept of flexing around corners etc and was constantly dropping his shoulder and running through the bends. was very annoying :) so i started leading him around in the arena doing the same patterns i would if i were riding and whenever we came to a bend i would tap him on the shoulder with the crop to teach him to bend around it. he was pretty responsive on the ground the moving away from pressure etc but he didnt get it under saddle at first :) it took me some time but eventually he got the idea and figured out what i was asking him to do. the transition to doing it in the saddle was really good and although we still had a ways to go he had improved heaps. once we got this he also started to figure out things like slowing down and listening more to me. each thing he learns make him that little bit more mature :)

spend a lot of time just being friends with him too. thoroughbreds are very loyal horses and are so eager to please. if you build a great friendship with him by doing things that he likes he will be even more eager to please :) and i believe that to truly be effective when retraining an ottb you need to have a relationship with the horse.

go slow, learn about him and have fun with him :) play your cards right and you will have a friend for life

"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"

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post #7 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 09:57 PM
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I've owned an OTTB for just over 6 mo now, and we're JUST starting to get her head down and she's JUST starting to pick up her right lead... when she wants to.

You need to take is slow and pretty much train them completely on how to be a riding horse. They are very unbalanced horses. It is necessary that you are a soft, patient, and balanced rider or else your horse will not have the greatest time. If they throw their heads up and go faster, 99% of the time, theyre off balance. My horse has been jumping for the past 2-3 months and i've found gymnastics do tremendous things when it comes to balance. DO NOT jump your horse until you have proper control and your horse knows what you are asking of him/her on the flat work. She sometimes picks up the right lead over a fence; that's the only time I can get her to get that lead. I'm going to keep on doing that until she's balanced enough on that lead, and then i'll introduce the right lead command. But yeah, in the long run, they turn out to be amazing, talented horses (if they were not injured in their racing career, of course) it just takes time, patience, and some good riding.
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-15-2008, 11:57 PM
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Sara pretty much said it all.
Do a ton of streching. Once you get them to strech, then they'll be a ton more relaxed. However this will take a lot of time and patience.
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post #9 of 18 Old 02-16-2008, 03:25 PM
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i guess i lucked out ... my 4 yr old is supper willing ... she picks up both leads too ... lol :)

:: Karley ::
Tucker WB/TB- 11 yr
Speedy QH/TB- 22 yr
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-27-2008, 04:55 AM
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Iv retrained a few off the track now. turned out to be excellent horses. if they are doing that on the lunge i definantly wont be getting on yet :o one of mine did that too and everytime she went to go i just 'deleted' the hyperactivity by lunging in a bridle and vibrating the lunge to pull her up. the harder you pull the harder they will. the more they practice hyperactivity the deeper it gets etched into their brain and becomes an instant response. when the lunging is under control be mind full that these horses are used to tiny people who ride with stirrups around their ears so the feel of stirrups around their flank will be unusual at first. hope it all goes well.
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