Off The Track Thoroughbred is a mess!

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Off The Track Thoroughbred is a mess!

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    05-02-2011, 09:54 PM
Off The Track Thoroughbred is a mess!

I recently bought an off the track thoroughbred. The only background I have on her is that she was given away from the track because she wouldn't go in or possibly leave the starting gate. Anyway, things were going pleasantly enough for the two of us. I had ridden her about 4-5 times with no problem. Then, I went to get her from pasture for a ride one day. Several other riders were with me. Our horses all started down the road. My horse (Ginger) stopped and refused to go forward. I kicked her pretty strongly, and she shot backwards, became tangled in her own legs and fell down on top of me! Shortly after that disaster, I enlisted the help of a trainer. Things had been going well for us. He had ridden her many times with no problem. Then one day, when he was trying to teach her move her hindquarters under saddle, she did the same thing again with him! He swears she will "learn" her way out of this behavior, but I am starting to lose my faith. I am concerned she will hurt someone (me or my trainer). I am wondering if her years on the track have just messed her up beyond repair. Anybody heard of this happening before and know how to fix it?? Oh, and incidentally, two weeks ago I tried to load her into a friend's horse trailer, but I forgot to put the back bar up before I tied her, so she pulled on the lead rope, freaked out, banged her head on the ceiling and had to get 10 stitches on her forehead. I don't know if she'll ever be a sane horse
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    05-02-2011, 09:59 PM
Was she given any down time, or straight from track to under saddle? Most benefit from a few months off.
    05-02-2011, 10:15 PM
Is this your first OTTB? If so, you probably need to go back and read up on what to expect, or talk with other people who've rescued them. I'm sorry if I'm repeating things you already know, but here's what I'd suggest.

I currently ride a 9 year-old OTTB mare who hasn't been on the track for at least four years. Like other former racers, she would have benefitted from at least a good month turned out in a pasture learning to be a horse before you even think about working her under saddle. 60 days is better and longer doesn't hurt.

A lot of OTTBs don't understand basic things that other horses are trained to accept, like crossties. My girl can't handle standing tied. If I bathe her, I have to hold the lead while someone else hoses her. If she's tied, she backs up, hits the end of the rope and all hell breaks loose. (If she was my horse, I'd already have dealt with this problem--but the BO doesn't think it's worth the mare's time to learn. Grrrr.)

I'm not at all surprised that your mare took off, or that she's spooking, or that she's smashing her head on things. It's going to take time, serious time. Start at the beginning: let her calm down and get off any drugs and grain-heavy diets that might be cycling through her system, then slowly introduce her to new sights and sounds. Who knows what she's experienced or what she's never seen before? She probably hasn't even been ridden under saddle the way you ride (think about the position jockeys adopt when they're mounted: even your center of gravity probably feels weird to her). I found this manual to be pretty helpful:

Good luck. OTTBs are *wonderful* animals, but every one at my barn has its own unique quirks that you have to be comfortable dealing with. These horses tend to be very sensitive and sweet, so working calmly and quietly with any issues that arise will be a good place to start.
    05-02-2011, 10:16 PM
When I work with younger horses and they have these silly moments I find it is normally from asking too much too soon. I would maybe take a few weeks off from riding and focus on ground work.
    05-02-2011, 11:07 PM
When a race horse gets gate sour all methods of force are often used to get the horse into the gate. I'm thinking that when the pressure is ramped up she is back at the track and reacting as surely as if the gate was there. Keep in mind a race lasts so many minutes and the horse goes back to it's stall. Perhaps she felt it was time to go to her stall when she stopped. Next time she stops just dismount and lead her on a little farther before heading home. She likely has had little groundwork done so now's a good time. I'm concerned that the trainer is going to make her worse, especially if his ego gets involved and it sounds like it has. Trailer incident - My boarder's horse did the same thing. Boarder tied him in before doing up the butt bar and he damaged himself and the trailer. I cut the lead before worse could happen.
    05-08-2011, 12:40 AM
Thank you for the suggestions everyone. She actually did get about two years off from the track. I bought her from someone who bought her from someone at the track.

Dutchess: I looked over that manual. I actually sent an email to the lady who wrote it. She is thinking of some solutions and getting back to me. So thank you!

I will keep you updated!

backing up, unsafe

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