New off the track Thoroughbred
Hello! I'm purchasing my first horse in the next couple of days. It's a 3 year old (almost 4) off the track Thoroughbred mare. I don't know much about her, and never seen someone ride her. I have a 2 week trial for her, so I can bring her back if there are any problems. I was told she doesn't buck, rear, or kick. I'm planning to do lots of flat work, only walk and trot transitions for a while until I know what she's all about, before i know if she is still in "race mode" and wants to bolt in an open field. I am planning to ride her English, and possibly turn her into a hunter/jumper eventually.
I guess technically this wouldn't be my first horse. My uncle gave me his 8 year old cutting horse for a while, but he was as broke as they come. I work with a lot of very green horses, and am experienced with a lot of different disciplines.
If anyone has any advice on how to start an ex race horse, please let me know. There will be a lot of time in the round pen to begin with and lots of ground work. Thanks for listening :)
Congrats! OTTBs are so much fun and can teach you so much!
My first question is how much time has the horse had since his last race?
Racing as I'm sure you know is very stressful and its recommended that they get 3-6 months off in a pasture for their mental health and to get their bodies adjusted to a hopefully less stressful environment ESP for nice they start work back up again!
Sounds like this may have already happend and that great, so in the case he's had time off just go as you please since you sound like you are a smart enough well well experienced rider :) like you said, round pen work and ground work.
For the best go long advice and help I highly suggest you make a training journal on here and post pictures and as many videos as you go along!
Good luck and can't wait to see pictures!
I second the need for photo's and video if you can. Also agree on the need for a bit of R & R for the horse if he is just off of racing. So very lucky that you get to "try him out" for 2 weeks. That is very nice. Gives you an out if you need it. Hopefully she will be everything you wish for and more.
In your two week trial, you are only going t be able to garner how she is as a 'race horse'. Ride her at the walk and trot. Don't do anything that will raise her anxiety, such as chase her loose in a round pen.....this is in most cases foreign to a race horse....being she has only just come off the track, she will be hot. Don't be surprised when you get her home she will sweat, this is an offset from racing. Most racehorses sweat when traveling or when at the races.
Ask the trainer 'does she pull?' meaning is she a horse that travels on the forehand and pulls against the bit.....very common, but not all of them do it. If you find out she pulls, ride her in an enclosed area on a LOOSE rein, any horse of the track will go in to work mode if you bridge and shorten your reins, she will come into and onto your hands. She will be flat, she won't have the foggiest what your leg aids are, as she has spent her life being ridden with little to no leg on.
I THOROUGHLY and STRONGLY recommend you give her some time to let down if and when you purchase her. That means pasture time, wean her off the hot food but watch her weight very closely as she WILL lose condition possibly faster than you can keep it on her. Find a balance with feed for sure. Do bring her in, groom her and act like her behaviour is no big deal if she is hot. Soothe her with a low calm voice....
If she's acting up while you're walking, move forward, keep walking...her behaviour will just get worse the longer you stand still......but do teach her to stand tied up for an extended period.
If its winter where you are, keep her warm, rug her up well, especially if she is pastured.
I have a bank of stuff about this in my brain! But the transition from racehorse to hunter/jumper is best done slowly and positively. Racehorses really respond well to soothing and positivity.
I have been a foreman of two racing barns in Ausralasia and I have also owned an OTTB.
Many people get an OTTB and immediately begin 'retraining' the horse immediately.....they also believe because the horse was a racehorse that he or she has been abused and that would explain the fiery nature or poor ground manners, this is not the case in many many instances. The way racehorses are started, managed and trained is so individual and unique from many other disciplines that when people start working with an OTTB they become overwhelmed with the energy of the animal.....that's why I really recommend spelling the horse, letting her come down quietly and working with her like she is a green broke baby.......small steps equal big rewarding results.
I wish you all the best, please feel free to pick my brain:-)
having retrained two racehorses i'd also recommend a break out at grass to relax and get to know each other
start with lunging and try and teach some voice commands from the ground as often TB's can be very sensitive to hand and/or leg
in my opinion you can't beat a TB, they aren't always easy but so rewarding and fun....if in doubt ask for help from professionals and most of all enjoy each other!
I absolutely ADORE my OTTB. He has so much heart, and that need to win spirit and intelligence that OTTB's carry is a heart breaker. If you train her right, she will do anything for you just for the asking. And i second the "R&R" the others are recommending. Good luck! And something else fun, ive only ridden TB's my entire life. (aside from one particularly moody Andalusian) and they do have song or music preferences! I know Romeo responds best when he hears Christmas bells or Christmas music. Also, its so cute to see him trot around with a pep in his step while i play music from my phone (in my pocket). Just enjoy the love a OTTB has to offer :)
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