Groundwork, groundwork, groundwork...not just with OTTBs but any and every horse is fundamental.
When you think about it, a TB has not been taught to use the "thinking" side of his brain...which is why he is SO quick to react, as well as run...it's not so much that the running itself has been so trained into him, it's just that he has not been taught how to use the thinking side of his brain, so the most "logical" thing for him to do in any situation, in his mind, is to run away.
This is why ground work is so crucial to a horse like that. He needs to learn respect, as well as how to think through things rather than react to them. I tend to like working with reactive type horses, and it's amazing how quickly you can transform a "looky, snorty, run-away" type horse with just consistent and firm groundwork; and doing exercises that make him use his body right from the start...get him to yield his hips and shoulders, make him move fowards, backwards, left and right...ie...make him THINK-vs-reacting. And when he is snorty and just plain goofy over something dorky like maybe a bag on a fence, just get his feet to move...the quicker you can "shift" the mind from the object back to yourself, the quicker he is going to learn to start thinking through situations. And don't shift from "I want you to look at it" to "I want you to move your feet'...just move his feet...making a horse look at something he is already 'scared of' only gives him leverage for the spook, and he can easily pull you over, or run you over. Get his mind OFF the object and back on you; eventually you will have gone past the object several times, and he will just be focused on you, even though you know he's seeing the object as well. I think too often people find it easy to "pamper" a horse who is so scared...that doesn't help the horse, and normally only tells the horse that you are insecure as well...you have to prove that you are a leader worth following, especially with a horse who is very reactive.
I would not even consider getting on a reactive horse (OTTB, or other) until he could do everything I asked from the ground without hesitation, both with and without distractions. I would have done a TON of desensitization to various objects and the horse has to have a firm grasp on lateral flexion, as that is going to be my emergency 'brake'. Especially with a TB, you don't want to try to stop him by simply pulling back...as he will likely run right through it. However, if you can get him to bend his head and neck you will be able to get him to slow down and eventually stop...like I said, horse HAS to know how to bend with little pressure from the rein before I will get on.
"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
Last edited by mom2pride; 11-15-2010 at 12:56 AM.