There's a big OTTB rehoming/rescue place in my area and I've really been wanting to look into adopting one. I know, people think they're crazy, but I think it'd be a really constructive 4H project. I'd guess that I'd use clinton anderson methods like I have with my other horses.
Do any of you have OTTB's? Is it really as difficult as it looks/sounds to retrain them? Is it much different from just breaking (for lack of a better word) a young colt/filly?
My friend has an OTTB that she adopted a while back. He is really sweet and docile, and they kick butt in barrels!!
I'm not serious about it yet, but I'd definitely want to look into it.
Any good info/stories/advice you have on adopting OTTB's?
There are some crazy hot TBs, but in my experience, that's not the norm even though it's the stereotype. My TB is incredibly laid back and calm.
Just a warning about adopting, there is usually a no resale clause and you have to return the horse to the shelter (for free). That doesn't bother some people, but it's a deal breaker for me.
I do believe that retraining is a little harder than initially breaking a horse because the OTTB will do what they have been trained to do and think they are doing what you want. Most things you are going to want to teach them are the opposite of what was desired on the track (standing to mount, accepting the bit etc)
I just bought an OTTB. His restarting has been started already but my trainer is stressing consistency and being stern but providing lots of positive encouragement. So far it doesn't seem worse or better than starting a horse, it just seems different. I ordered a book on OTTBs off smartpak to help me understand them a little.
I definitely don't think it's fair to classify them all as hot and write them off. (I don't think that about Arabs either). Every horse is different and every horse is going to have different days. Last weekend my boy was hotter than usual. We figure it was due to the cold weather and not being out all day the day before. The next day he was back to his usual self. They are unique and are going to have up days and down...
I say read up on a lot of OTTB forums and ask a lot of questions.
My OTTB experience
I got my ottb in April. He can be ridiculously hot and then has days when he lays down to eat his hay. He has major meltdowns and is unpredictable. That said, he is the most rewarding horse. The progress he makes is worth the tough days. I also have a two yr old filly who has been much easier to train. She learned to lunge in a dAy and is walk trotting with my six, nine and eleven yr old sons who just started riding four months ago. IMO its much easier to train a young horse than it is to retrain one who has been taught to do something completely different from what you are asking him. Another tidbit about ottb's is that they are not socialized with other horses in the"normal" way. Meaning they are stalled and not pastured with other horses. So when we introduced a third horse to the herd here the ottb took to violently biting him. I'm sure every ottb is different and many are just fine with other horses. Mine has been a buddy to the filly since day one but not the new gelding. Doesn't help that the new guy was also not socialized as he was a top bred western pleasure show horse so the same issues with being stalled. My ottb has been on the trails and to a show. With the trails no big problems but not a laid back trail horse yet by any means. At the show he was a basket case for the first hour and very forward in his classes lapping the competitors. You could tell he knew it wasn't a race but he didn't know what it was so racing seemed like his best option. He wasn't out of control and did calm down for his second class but was lathered in sweat after his first. I set out some trotting poles the other night and he must've thought they were cougars because he completely spazed out. After a little leading he was fine. Trotted them and even started small jumps. He learns fast and his worst is nothing I can't handle. I have seen many tbs that are amazing 4h horses. Just do what I did and read everything you can get your hands on about ottbs and remember it will not be a quick easy ride. There will be ups and downs like with any new horse. But there are specifics with most ottb's like a lack of steering or understanding leg pressure or how to accept the bit or how to stand while mounting or bending or being worse to the right. Finally in closing my novel I will say that my ottb did not show his true colors until he adjusted here. It may be a little hard to judge a horses personality until you try them for a while which makes the send them back to the adoption no penalty clause a very attractive one to me. Good luck and read read read!
I got our OTTB straight off the track at Louisville when he was 9. He was a completely unsuccessful race horse because he had such a laid back personality. He liked to run with the crowd, but he really didn't care if he came in first or last. GREAT breeding, perfect conformation and an expensive yearling at the Fasig Tipton sale. He sold for $32,000 as a yearling and we got him for $1,500. This horse had perfect manners and a quarterhorse brain. He came to us straight off the track and my husband learned how to ride on him after we'd had him for about a month.
If a thoroughbred is a failure at the track there is a reason. Sometimes it's physical... sometimes it's mental. Avoid the physical problems and look for the calm, sane ones.
Do I have any OTTBs? Erm....well...only five ;) seven if you include the two weanlings that came with our latest fosters, who were technically on the track, and now they're off XD they werent supposed to be though.
A lot of people do make a lot of hyp about OTTBs being crazy, and as many have said on here- that isnt necessarily true. A lot of times the 'hyper drive' and 'craziness' that you see in young thoroughbreds has actually been trained (with or without the trainer knowing it) to act this way, because if the way it is handled and the environment it is in. And yes, it can be trained out of them with a proper diet, good training, and patience.
However, you also should go into this realizing that OTTBs do take an experienced handler to set straight. If you have little horse TRAINING experience (note that I say training, not just handling) then I advise in not committing to an OTTB at this time, unless you are going to have a trainer that is well versed in young track thoroughbreds. Because they have to be trained quickly, many of them have very little ground manners and big holes in their training such as not knowing to hold still when being mounted, invading your space, not leading well, leaning on your hands, not carrying themselves right, ignoring leg and hand aids, and being 'fussy' with their head and legs. It isnt their fault, they merely havent been taught the correct way to act. For that reason it will be your job to start from the very beginning with them as though they were babies, and work your way up teaching them every single thing over again, even if they 'seem' like they already know it.
If you're willing to commit and stick through, and have the ability though, you arent going to find a better horse to work with. All of the OTTBs that we have had come through our farm have been very affectionate, bright, and unique. Some have been crazier than others, and a few of them probably never will be good beginner or intermediate horses, but they all have their place and we love them to death. They absolutely LOVE to learn IME. We currently have two that are in their late teens who are great lesson horses, one who is on her way to bigger and better things with beautiful gaits, and one nice gelding who we adopted out as a trail horse prospect.
Do be warned though that Throughbreds as a whole tend to be very accidentl prone, but race-bred TBs are especially this way. They're built for speed- not sturdiness, and many of them have weak bone structures or break down soon after if not during being trained to race. If you're wanting a horse that will last into it's twenties, I suggest that you look for one who has trained on the track but just wasnt fast enough to make it into racing, or one who has only been started in two or three races. The more they've raced, the bigger the chance that they're going to break down easily. A PPE is also very helpful, with xrays included if you can swing it- and if possible see if you can work with the horse (or even ride it) before saying that you'll buy it to get a feel of how well it learns/copes with new situations. Look for one that is curiouse and quiet, not excitable. Take an experienced person with you, and dont rush it! There are plenty of sound, sane, ready to go OTTBs out there. You dont want to go into this blindly.
Hope I've been helpful!
I leased an OTTB this year, Paris. I didn't train her, but I was continuing her training. She's incredibly sweet, laid back, willing to please, and a very fast learner. If anything, she's lazy, not hot.
Endiku makes some very good points that I left out. Our OTTB was 9 when we got him and very lightly raced. He had the good fortune to have a trainer who really, really liked him and owners who walked away and just abandoned him. Since he was a dud at racing, he was used to teach young horses how to break from the gate. I really think in his case that calm handling, age and the fact that he was a favorite of the staff made a huge difference in how he turned out. He's now 20 and his health is just now beginning to fail. He's been a reliable trail horse in the mountains for years, carrying my husband who is almost 6'4 in and approx. 245 lbs. There's absolutely nothing structurally wrong with him even now. OTTBs can be wonderful...you just have to choose wisely.
I have two OTTB's. My first was 12 when we got him and he is the calmest horse you could ask for. He is laid back, but when you ask him to run- he runs! A few weeks ago I got a 4 year old OTTB mare. She is a little more difficult because she is so skinny and is eating so many calories every day.
I would suggest that you look into how many times the horse has raced and yopu definatley want a very thorough vet check to make sure the horse is sound. People often forget that these horses have already had a career and retired by the time they're six. Just use your instincts about the horse- if the horse is very spooky you can usually tell just by walking it around an unfamiliar place(unless it's drugged). I love my OTTB's and both of them seem to be quick and eager learners... Good Luck! :)
TBs, as a rule of the breed, mature later than other horses. So... I would steer clear of younger OTTBs. I'd start looking around age 8-9 and up. My OTTB just hit 12 this year and I can't believe the difference. It's almost like I'm riding a different horse this summer than I was last summer.
Take your time in picking a horse. Don't go by color or looks alone. You can't ride looks. Look for one that comes over to you and is eager to make contact. A horse eager to meet you will probably be eager to please.
I tend to go with geldings but that's my personal preference. I don't think you are crazy at all for looking into the OTTB option. There are a lot of OTTBs out there that are good for more than just running around a track.
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