Dreaming of the future, with a bit of worrying. Experience with OTTBs Please
Hi everybody! I’m new to the forum. I do not currently own a horse of my own, due to lack of finances. However, I do know that I will get a horse at some point in my life, hopefully sooner rather than later lol. And because I know this, I have had this burning question in the back of my mind ever since I decided where I was going to get my first horse from, but first a bit of background about me to help you answer it.
I have been riding since I was 10 years old (I’m now 21) in lessons at a fairly well know H/J barn in my area, I rode at this stable until I was about 16. I would lease one of the barns horses every summer. I only showed in 3 shows, but got a first place in equitation at my second show. Eventually I moved to another barn where the boarders there allowed me to ride and care for their horses from when I was 16-18 years old. I also took private lessons with an upper level dressage/event trainer during that time and the barn owner offered to sponsor me in shows in order to get his barn name out there. I never ended up showing in these shows however because I was trying to prep my favorite horse that I rode for the shows and before I could get us to where I felt we would do the barn name justice my parents pulled me out of riding and horses altogether.
My most recent horse that I’ve ridden was a 13yr OTTB that had not been ridden in quite sometime because the owner had bought him for her 10yr old daughter and she could not handle him so he mostly sat in a stall without a job until I rode him. Needless to say he was a bit of a crazy man when I first started working with him, rearing, bolting, bucking, he would refuse to go to the arena when I had him tacked up. By the 3rd time working with him the bolting and bucking was completely gone, he would still refuse to go into the arena occasionally and he would rear and refuse to go away from the gate when I was working him. Eventually all the bad behavior was taken care of with a bit of persisting on my end, he got the hint that I wasn’t going to give up and let him get away with his crap. In the end I got him working softly, going on the bit consistently and coming from behind.
What my question is however is this: I love thoroughbreds, and whenever the time comes that I do start to look for my own horse I really want it to be an OTTB. I love the idea of rescuing a horse while at the same time getting a sport horse partner diamond in the rough. My concern is that the rescues and the trainers that the rescues work with won’t allow me to adopt because it would be my first horse and they think I won’t have enough experience. I would be looking for something that is young but not a baby, so somewhere in the 5-8yr range, that is easy to handle and has a willing attitude and potential to be a jumper or eventer.
I feel comfortable in restarting the horse slowly, letting them down (if it hasn’t been done already), training them on a lounge/in hand with voice commands, teaching them about things they might not know about such as cross ties etc., teaching them to work off of the new aids. And of course bringing in a trainer if I ever become unsure of myself…
I guess my main concern is, have you ever heard of a Thoroughbred adoption agency refusing adoption to a person in my situation? (particularly CANTER) And if you feel like there’s anything I can do now until I start looking to decrease my chances of getting refused.
If you have anymore specific questions about my experience, please ask, this post was just getting long.
Alright. I have only owned 2 horses but both have been OTTB's. In my opinion they have the most pure of horse hearts. I encourage you to go after one. If they are rejecting you SIMPLY because it is your first horse, then that is an issue. I would recommend asking for a test ride before you tell them that it would be your first horse. Build a relationship with the seller, and with the horse of your liking. Relationships spawn many routes that would not normally be open. Heck i talked 10 grand off the horse im looking at currently. OTTB's do need lots of attention though commonly, or at least ive found that, and you would probably help yourself out to research weight gaining supplements for whichever horse you choose. (eg: Cool Gain) Because OTTB's dont seem to gain weight well. You would also do well to have a conditioning program mapped out for the horse based on what its talent was in races. For example, my little Romeo was a long distance horse that kicked in with a last corner-final stretch sprint. He is a long body horse so we have to keep his back fit. Consistent work is a must for OTTB's and if you show the owners a safe and clean environment they are more likely to accept your offer to adopt/buy. Dont settle for less is my thought. :) There are HUNDREDS of beautiful and sweet OTTB's out there just begging for a home and a job. You will find the perfect one, im sure :)
Can only add one thing to above. Expect your OTTB to not know how to tie, or go slow, or bend. There isn't time to train it, and the owners have gotten all the money out of the TB when they sell him to you. Your OTTB might also have a chronic recurring injury.
I don't have a problem with people who rehome OTTB's bc they do it generally out of love. I do have a problem with the TB race industry bc they say, "You can always sell them as show or jumping horses, if they don't race well." So, there are a LOT dumped on a right now, very poor horse market. So, be careful.
To help with their bending issues, cookie stretches help a lot! Also an issue with OTTB's is they tend to react very poorly or bolt off of your leg, so leg exercises at the walk and trot are essential to the proper development of your OTTB's training and ride ability. Circles and over bend/counter bend usually helps to teach them to travel slow and wait on your leg and hand to guide. And a good idea is to use draw reins in their development to teach them to carry their head in a frame. Most like to raise their heads. Hope this helps! :D
Thank you very much for the advice and encouragement on getting a OTTB. I'm also very happy to see that no one thus far has seen any glaring reason why I won't be able to get one for my first horse. Keep the tips coming though, any suggestions on what to do to build my repertoire with the horse sellers/rescues out there so I can really make sure I don't make a fool out of myself when going to look at a horse :lol:
I always do things better when someone isn't watching, I feel like if someone horsey, besides my trainer, watches me ride I get all nervous and tense. But I'm fine with people who don't really know what they're looking at. Another big fear of mine is looking like an arse on my test ride of potential horses.
It is CRUCICAL you do not get too nervous on an OTTB. They feel energy very easy.. Calm is key. Sit up straight, and be patient with them as they are not fast learners.
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Any suggestions to help me remain calm while performing under a possibly scrutinizing eye, besides the obvious of just practice more doing it?
Yep! Picture the horse as yours the second you sit on it. If you have a trainer, bring them along to coach you on the horse while you ride to make it feel like a home lesson. Ride what is under you, not what you know. Breathe deep and maybe hum a tune or talk to the horse the whole time. TB's in general seem to love hearing voices. :)
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Heres a pic of my OTTB from our lesson today. Thats a 3'11" oxer with 4'0" spread :) hahahaha NEVER undermine your OTTB, and be patient and give them lots of love and they will give you the moon in return :)
As a teen living in a major center with a race track, most of my friends owned OTTBs and what they discovered was that the longer the horse raced the harder they were to retrain. Most wound up with two year olds but they turned into awesome lower level jumpers while a few excelled. I purchased a 7 yr old that had already been thro his initial retraining. His willing attitude blew me away.
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