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BellsTouchofClass 12-16-2011 11:03 AM

Help with 4 yr old OTTB
Hey guys..
I just recently bought a 4 year old OTTB mare. I have had her for almost 30 days. The first week I bought her I didn't do much with her, I trailered her to TN from SC so I wanted her to just relax and get used to her new surroundings.
She is a pretty sensible mare, stands quietly for the farrier, getting groomed, tacked up etc. The reason why I am posting this thread is because I would like some advice on a training schedule for her. So far I have ridden her about 4 or 5 times and she was fine, just walked/trotted her in some circles. For the most part I have been trying to work on her ground manners and lunging. She doesn't understand ANY voice commands. When I ask for a trot on the lunge she is completely clueless as to what I'm asking her to do. I have tried to incorporate using a lunge whip, but that didn't go so well. She completely lost her mind when I she saw it and took off. Another problem I'm having is that once she gets to a trot, I can't get her to transition down to a walk, or a halt. Sometimes she tries to change direction on me, which I know is a sign of disrespect.
I have all the time in the world and patience to work with her. I know she can do well, I just have NO experience working with OTTBs. My Hanoverian mare is 23 years old, she was so easy to work with when she was younger, and we had an amazing career together in the AAA Show Jumping circuit. My goal for my new OTTB is to get her to into the show circuit eventually, either Dressage or Jumping. I haven't decided that part yet. I know that book 'Beyond the Track' is supposed to be amazing, I ordered it but it has not arrived yet.
If any of you have any advice I would love to hear it.

Beauseant 12-16-2011 11:27 AM

We bought our OTTB when he was 5 and had been off the track for less than 3 months.

Those were tense and dangerous days.:shock: As a mom, watching her son working with this horse, those were the scariest days of my life.

He was calm and agreeable, MOST of the time....but when he didn't get his own way, he flipped out in a major way. He would whirl, kick, and rear in my son's face, striking out with those front hooves at times so close my son said he could feel the wind on his cheek.....

I would say it took AT LEAST a year of constant, as in every single day, of groundwork before he was deemed safe enough for anyone other than my son to be around. He had major biting issues, severe food aggression, and an attitude that HE was God.... These issues took time to for the lunge whip, we also had MAJOR problems with that. Pull out a crop or whip and he was in FIGHT mode.... as for the groundwork, he would bite or kick at the carrot stick.....

Under saddle, he was great in an indoor arena, very aggreeable but very forward...,outdoors he is a loose cannon.....he wants to GO GO GO.....he is very hard to bring back down and to KEEP him his mind, outdoors means gallop.:-o

At least your mare doesn't have so many issues it count yourself lucky.:-) My only advice to you is to start from the ground up....make sure your horse understands that YOU are God, not her.....which translates to complete control, even with the lunge whip, on the ground.

What we have found with our OTTB, even NOW two years later at age almost 7, if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.....rules and boundaries must be clear and firmly established. They are not negotiable. If you negotiate the rules with our OTTB, you WILL wish you hadn't.

At this point in time, he is a perfect angel. You could not ask for a more agreeable and well behaved horse. His biting has ended, due to us working extensively on this for over a year, he does not whirl, rear or kick out at humans anymore....he does still have food aggression with other horses, but NOT with that is still a work in progress.

BellsTouchofClass 12-16-2011 11:34 AM

Thank you!!! She had about 9 months of down time from the track so I think that might have helped a bit. I will definitely keep what you said in mind. I have all the faith in the world in her, I'm just new to this OTTB thing. I never realized how different their training was. I just read a few articles about using the reins on her, like how they are trained to go go go when you tighten the reins as opposed to halt on normal horses. I am very grateful she doesn't bite, but she does try to chew on her lead rope or cross ties ALL the time lol..
Once again, thank you for your input! I really appreciate it =)

Beauseant 12-16-2011 12:00 PM

She sounds like she'll make a fantastic horse....

Perhaps alot of the problems Beau had was because we got him only a few months off the track.

The good news is that TBs are, in my own opinion, the most fantastic horses ever..... sensitive, wicked smart, athletic, energetic ..... and at least in Beau's case, affectionate. he is more affectionate than alot of dogs I know!:lol:

Good luck and keep us updated on how it goes.

Be firm, set boundaries, do not negotiate those boundaries, and teach her YOU are a capable and gentle but firm leader..... and prepared to be captivated by the charm of the TB.:-)

TexasBlaze 12-16-2011 12:06 PM

Try looking into some NH methods. I truely LOVE Clinton Anderson and he has a series on RFDTV RIGHT NOW about working with OTTB's. Id input on how i got my OTTB to act good but by the grace of god shes always been the calmest, most level headed horse i know. (Slower than my QH x.X) Only problem with her is like Beauseant said.. she's food aggressive.

Beauseant 12-16-2011 12:14 PM

Texas, do u mean the Tricky Warrior series? we're watching that also.....

I think it is fantastic that he is doing this, because here where I live alot of people just don't want the off trackers because they think they are insane or they think they "aren't good for nothin".

Watching Clinton turn this horse into something rideable and maybe even with show potential should open alot of people's eyes to the grace, beauty and abilities of the OTTB.

They aren't just "good for nothin but runnin"!!

BellsTouchofClass 12-16-2011 12:18 PM

Yes I have seen Clinton Anderson on RFDTV, I just always catch it right at the end! I'm going to try and see if I can find a download to it somewhere.

TexasBlaze 12-16-2011 12:21 PM

xD yes! I absolutely adore him! Plus i want to try and make a career out of retraining OTTBs sometime in the future. (Ive got his entire dvd series and have used it on OTTBS and barrel horses and everything else xD) I halfway wish my TB gave me something crazy to work with but NO! She's lazy haha!

He's pure genius!

Mstar 12-17-2011 02:07 AM

Really MOST OTTBs aren't crazy or need tons of retraining. I've had 4 of my own and not a one of them presented a major problem. I did a day of ground work just to see what they knew and their boundaries, then got on and rode. Each horse is different, some know more than others, some are going to have issues. There are just some points you have to realize that OTTB's have ALOT of holes in their training. There are things you would expect a horse to know (like cross tying or standing still to mount) that they have never had to do.

As far as the longing and voice commands, you have to treat him like an absolute baby-he has NO IDEA what you are telling him to do. Scale things down and simplify. Put away the whip. Put him on a circle just big enough that you're out of kicking range. Training longing and retraining an OTTB is SO much about pressure and release. If you need forward motivation, raise your hand or swing the end of the line at his butt. As soon as he moves forward, even if it's just a half step, take the pressure off. You can't run til you walk, so teach him to walk and halt on the longe before even thinking about trotting or cantering. Just keep it slow, relaxed and baby steps. As soon as he is doing something right, take that pressure off him. He'll get it :-)

Also it's a common misconception that racehorses are trained to go faster when you pull back on them. If that was so, how would we ever get them to stop ? ;-) You don't see jockeys pulling the horses back when they are coming down the stretch. Rather they lean into the contact when they are galloping. This helps them balance and is supposed to make them work their muscles, but isn't something that is "taught"'s what happens when a horse knows it's job is to run, they are kept in a stall 24/7 and pumped full of high energy HAVE to keep a strong hold on them to keep them from running off! I believe the reaction an OTTB has when you take up a hold on the reins is the same as any horse anticipating going faster. Most any horse will perk up and expect to go faster when you shorten up your reins. Same with racers. They often walk to the track and jog around on a loose rein, but you better take up the contact when they go to gallop! They DO know how to stop, but are used to taking awhile to do it. Work on getting him to not lean on your hands...lots of transitions, serpentines and bending excercises. Soft hands, pressure and immediate release.

Best of luck!

Beauseant 12-17-2011 10:38 AM

Crazy, NO! Tons of retraining, some!!

We contacted our boy's breeder to get some background info on him since he was SOOOOO human oriented as to make us wonder if he was a bottle baby. He gets along with humans so well he is more like a dog than a horse. he gets along with other horses so badly, he can be dangerous.

Anyhow, we found out that no, he wasn't a bottle baby, but that he was the breeder's wife's favorite....a "pet" of him and his wife. He was born on the breeder's brother's birthday. Apparently he was coddled and pampered as a youngster and he and his wife spent alot of time with him...So he is super friendly and just loves people.....

But he had NO MANNERS. I don't know if it is just HIM in particular or if all OTTBs are like this, but somewhere along the line, he decided that HE makes all the rules. We had some difficulty teaching him otherwise in the beginning.....

Mstar has given some great advice. We found with our OTTB, that under saddle, the two main issues is getting him back down to walk/trot AND keeping him there. He will come down, briefly, but then he wants to GO again..... He just doesn't understand why we just won't let him gallop like he used to. Because of this, he has had EXTENSIVE groundwork and is the most well behaved horse you will ever meet, on the ground......but he has had little under saddle time. This being due to the fact that the only one of me, my adult daughter, my husband and my adult son who are skilled enough to ride him is my son...and being 6 ft. 2 and weighing 225 lbs, he feels he is too big for him. OTTBs are used to carrying 100 lbs.... not 225!:-( so my son has only ridden him a few times, daughter and husband have ridden him at our ex barn when we had an indoor arena and he was a complete angel. Here we do not have an indoor arena, and outside he is a different horse. Full of energy and excitement.....

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