What information can you guys give me about them?
Also anyone who has any experience with them let me know your views on them :D
I have only ever dealt with one. His name was Lou and by the time i came around he was already 16 and had been off the track since he was 6. I rode him and he still very much knew the cues and wanted to go Go GO GO! lol
But heres what i could find that i think is helpful
OTTBs can excel in most disciplines, are generally inexpensive compared to young sporthorses that are not retiring from the track, and have been exposed to varied environments, sights, sounds, and experiences. If you’re an experienced rider considering buying a young sporthorse prospect, the option of purchasing or adopting a Thoroughbred off the racetrack might be an attractive option. Before you head for the backside to chat up trainers, here are a few things to consider:
Buy or Adopt?
Racehorse trainers are not unaware that washed out racehorses can have successful second careers. As a result, many have become open to keeping a horse that is no longer racing or is about to retire at the track for a few extra weeks and showing him to sporthorse buyers. However, other trainers prefer to dispose of slow horses quickly, through auctions, or by returning them to their owners to be sold. If you choose to contact trainers directly, be polite, be ready to meet at 4:00 AM if they would like to do so in order to be through with your tour before their busiest time of day, and bring an open mind. Even if you disagree with the way the trainer keeps and treats his horses, be polite; one rude buyer can cause a domino effect of trainers choosing no longer to welcome sporthorse buyers.
Another option is to contact rescues and other non-profit organizations specializing in finding loving homes for retired racehorses. It is a myth that horses in rescue are more likely to be lame or mentally unsound than horses purchased directly from the track. Rescues have many types of horses, from companion-only to those with show potential, and are likely to provide full disclosure of any soundness or temperament issues, unlike most private sellers. The downside is, the adoption process is generally more complicated than merely handing over a check, and the rescue may temporarily or permanently retain some rights to the horse. If you’d like to adopt, check out CANTER, ReRun, New Vocations, or a similar organization. Ember came to me through Another Chance 4 Horses, which does not specialize in racehorses, but rescues all types of horses in danger.
Physical Needs of OTTBs
Most OTTBs come with some special needs, either temporary or permanent. Before choosing to buy or adopt a retired racehorse, decide how much special care you are willing and able to provide. If you want to get started training a horse right away, look for a horse bred and raised for the sporthorse industry, not the racing industry. While some OTTBs are ready to start their new jobs after only a short rest period, others may need 60 days or more of rest, as well as veterinary and farrier care.
Hard work at a young age takes a toll on many horses’ bodies. Ailments common to OTTBs include hoof cracks, brittle hooves, slab fractures, bowed tendons, bone chips, ulcers, strained ligaments, muscle injuries, and stone bruising, among other conditions. In our first six months together, Ember dealt with a carpal bone chip, ringworm, ear mites, and brittle hooves, and it was later discovered that he also has ulcers. A list of diagnoses like this is not unusual for OTTBs. Be prepared to spend time and money on veterinary care, hoof care, and on board and feed while your new addition rests. Of course, it’s also quite possible to find any or all of these conditions in a horse that’s never raced, as well as to find a heavily raced young horse with no physical problems.
Mental Needs of OTTBs
Most OTTBs have lived in a very structured environment for between several weeks to a couple of years. They are accustomed to feedings at the same time each day, and a regular exercise schedule. They may be accustomed to a hot walker, baths, clipping, turnout, and galloping around the track, but totally unfamiliar with the concept of a round pen or trail riding. Many trainers achieve good results by pulling a new OTTB’s shoes and turning him or her out to pasture for at least two weeks before starting a new training schedule. Time to wind down from the track is essential to success in training an OTTB.
Do not expect that a newly retired racehorse will know any or all of the cues that a trained sporthorse understands. Racehorses speak a different language. Pulling hard on an OTTB’s bit is likely to make him run faster, not stop, and he may not understand how to turn clockwise, since races are run counterclockwise. Patience and understanding are key. Reward and praise your OTTB for progress, and avoid excessive punishment if he or she has a meltdown. Redirect the horse’s attention to a constructive use of his energy rather than punishing him for behaviors like shying or rearing. Start slowly, with walking in large circles, and make sure that she gets enough exercise through longeing, ground driving, turnout, and hand walking, rather than by pushing under saddle work too quickly.
If this will be your first OTTB, seriously consider working with a professional trainer with experience in this area. At the very least, purchase a few books specifically on retraining racehorses. The insight of someone with many years of experience is invaluable.
Be prepared for setbacks, confusion, and mistakes, both yours and the OTTB’s. Be humble and willing to seek and take advice if you’re struggling to teach your new prospect a new skill or overcome a behavior problem. Don’t be stuck in your ways. An unusual training method like clicker training could help you break through a “wall” in training or build a stronger bond with your retired racehorse. Remember that, however much you know about his history, there is more that you don’t know. Your OTTB could have been treated like a prince, or he could have been abused. Before labeling him “stubborn” or “difficult,” recognize that a behavior you are seeing could be the result of fear, trauma, or merely a lack of education.
Above all, prepare for a fantastic feeling of accomplishment every time your OTTB progresses toward your ultimate goal. However many setbacks you may face, the joy in knowing that you’ve given a horse a second chance and trained him for a new career is worth it. The picture below is taken during one of my first real rides with Ember, after six months of rehabilitation for his various health conditions, as well as his severe headshyness. The quality’s not great, but it captures the exhilaration of a milestone met and a strong relationship formed
Wow, ilovestitch, that was wonderful. I read your whole article and it was very insightful. I'm an OTTB owner myself. Jubilee is 18 yo and has obviously been off the track for many years... but I can see how some of the things you mentioned apply to her. I have a special spot in my heart for OTTB's. I wouldn't trade my horse for anything in the world. :-)
There's a wonderful book out there written by a OTTB rescue - it's a wonderful resource, it's called "Beyond the Track." It really helped with my OTTB.
I have a young OTTB, and looking back now, he probably wasn't the best option as a 2nd horse, lol, but I wouldn't trade hime for the world now! They can and do come with issues, some more than others, both mental and physical, but I think if you can get past their TB hype, there are some wonderful horses beneath it all.
My boy is not such a drastic example, he was only raced twice, but there is another horse at the paddock where mine is, and aparently he was a mess when they bought him. His first day at Pony Club he went nuts, was stressed out of his head, COVERED in foam and sweat. The mother of the girl who owns him said other parents thought he was going to kill her daughter (he wasn't agressive, just crazy!). But she's put many hours of work into him, and he is so gorgeous now! There isn't a mean bone in his body.
They are a lot of work, but definately worth it in the end!!!
Here's a post I made on another thread regarding OTTBs.. it might not make sense in some parts because it was answering another thread, but here goes:
I would not recommend a FRESH OTTB for a beginner rider... HOWEVER!!! After retraining, OTTBs become absolutely wonderful horses!!! My gelding is off the track as of August '08... when I bought him in September, the lady's 8 year old daughter felt comfortable enough around him to ride him (albeit just at a walk - but she was unassisted!)
I hate that there's that "ohmygoshtheyrecrazy!!" stereotype - they come off the track very hot... it's true. But most of them (there's the odd "crazy" one) come off the track and go on to be absolutely amazing children's horses!
Also, with your figure for unsound OTTBs.... sure, some may retire and not be sound... but that IS NOT the majority. If you get a vet check and buy from a reputable seller, then you should be able to determine soundness issues.
My horse is 7 - he raced for 4, almost 5 years.... he retired 100% sound, and my vet said he was absolutely blown away at how clean his legs are. Even through 2 injuries to his legs (negligence on the barn's part, yes he is in the process of being moved) he's stayed completely and totally sound.
OTTBs are WONDERFUL horses... wonderful!! Just with ANY horse you have to find the one that suits YOU! :)
I have 3 off the trackers.
Temperament is everything. All ours are quiet and even off the track for just one week, my kids (young teens with about 3 years exp) rode them at pony club events.
I have seen others that are absolute fruit loops and have needed a lot of 'letting down' and settling.
They are very athletic and can be very good at most things they are asked to do. They usually float well and are used to noises, busy places and conducting themselves in small areas. A lot of them don't have much balance when turned out in a paddock as they are not used to being on uneven surfaces and they tend to trip a lot.
All of mine are just chucked in a paddock and that is where they live, I do not have stables - though during the wet (like at the moment) they keep trying to turn my feed shed into one. They have coped just fine and love the fact that they can hoon around. I love them to be just horses.
I really like OTT horses but I am very fussy about temperament.
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