Feeding an OTTB
I don't currently have an OTTB, but I plan to get one when I do get a horse. In the mean time I find myself doing LOTS of research on retraining, letting down, injuries that may have occurred on the track and what they might mean for future riding careers, problems you might run into while acclimating them to their new environment and...of course...the all important how to feed them...but for some reason its just not clicking for me. That may be because I have never been responsible for making that decision for a horse before.
I will most likely be boarding the horse when I get one and from what I understand it would not be a good idea just to pick a grain from the ones fed at the boarding facility and call it a day. They need a little more customization in their diet, at least when they come right off the track. So heres what I've gained from my research and what my current feeding plan would be...unless someone has some major objections. (I understand that AMOUNTS of these will change depending on the particular horse in question, this is just a guide line, generic "this is what you feed an OTTB" list)
-I've come to the conclusion that it is best to feed a high quality senior feed due to the higher fat content and lower sugar content than the sweet feed racehorses are fed. This will help them gain weight and get rid of their "grain high". What I can't seem to figure out is, do you wean them off of the sweet feed and gradually introduce the senior feed so not to shock their system? Or do you drop the sweet fed right away and switch them over ASAP? I've found both sides of the argument, but haven't found anything really solid to back either side up.
-It may be a good idea to feed something like beet pulp(soaked of course) and/or hay stretcher to add bulk, fiber and help a bit more with the weight gain. But again, is it one or the other or both in perfect harmony...I'm baffled on that one.
-To my understanding hay should be offered free choice, if they're willing to keep eating then they keep getting it. The debate comes in when you start talking about alfalfa, some think it's wonderful in moderation mixed with 'lesser' hay (timothy) and pasture, others act like its the work of the devil and should be avoided at all costs due to its richness. I see both arguments, although I think I'm leaning towards the alfalfa is ok in moderation....thoughts?
-Oils....another baffling item. I understand why, to add extra calories and fat without adding bulk...but WHAT, is my question. I've seen rice bran, straight vegetable oil, fish oils, wheat germ oils....is an oil an oil or is one better than the other for the purpose of weight gain?
-Ulcer treatments. To my understanding, the OTTBs likely have them even if they're not showing signs when they come off the track, or they're going to get them shortly after they come off due to the change in diet, schedule, work load, scenery etc etc etc. Therefore it's a nice thought to put them on a treatment just in case. But, are all ulcer treatments/preventatives created equal or does one stand head and heels above the rest? Suggestions please!
Am I missing anything? Does the plan look good or does it look like I'm planning on shoving too many things down my potential horse's throat?
Like I said I'm doing a lot of research so I am absolutely prepared when the great day comes when I can finally have my own :lol: Good, thorough answers will be going into my "Buying an OTTB" folder on my computer...where all good articles and suggestions go on the subject.
What makes you think all ex-racing TBs are hard keepers? Mine doesn't get senior feed, nor does he get any added beet pulp/rice bran/oil, etc. The only one who gets beet pulp is my 27 y/o Arab, and only in the winter to help keep up his weight when it's cold.
I wouldn't presume any horse is a hard keeper until I know for certain. Sure, my TB gets more than my Arabs because he's bigger, but I have absolutely no trouble keeping weight on him with just a good, pelleted feed, access to grass pasture in the summer, and a lot of quality grass hay in the winter.
I also wouldn't presume the horse has ulcers, unless it's showing signs.
Don't overthink it. Until you have the actual horse, you can't plan any type of feeding regimen.
It's just what I've found through my research. The suggestions on getting them out of race conditioning and into a riding horse. I don't know, thats why I'm asking.
Like I said, you can't make any kind of feed regimen decisions until you have the actual horse. Not all ex-racers are flaky, high strung, hard keepers.
In fact, I'd hazard a guess that most of the ones who wash out at the tracks do so because they just don't want to race. Which means they're far too laid back and easy going to make a good racehorse.
The ones who make good/great racehorses are the ones most likely to be prone to ulcers and not keep on weight, not their slower, more laid back brethren. :wink:
My OTTB gets one full scoop (the plastic ones with the handle) of tribute maturity 2x a day, he is on a daily multi supplement, a digestion supplement (he is prone to ulcers), and he gets as much hay as he can stand plus daily turnout on a grassy pasture.
I went through an adjustment period with his diet. When I first got him, he was very skinny. I tried a few different feeds until I saw the results I was looking for. I haven't ever fed him beet pulp or oils of any kind. If you can find a good quality grain and supplement with anything your horse might be lacking in their diet, then you should be good to go.
I agree with Speed Racer, all horses are different, you have to feed each horse according to their needs. I would discuss it with the seller and with your vet. Just keep researching! Knowledge never hurt anybody!
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I think you're doing a great job of preparing - so much better than these people who dive into it with no clue at all
You might be overthinking things but having 'another trick up your sleeve' isn't a bad thing
I've bought OTTB's that were thin when we got them because they'd done the rounds of the auctions but they soon filled out on mostly good grazing and good hay. One of them was so laid back I'm amazed he ever got out of the starting gate - yet he'd won some money in his time
One of the biggest issues you can have with them if you get them straight from a racing yard is that they aren't used to a lot of turn out and have often never been turned out with another horse in their life - so what seems lovely and natural to us as a new life for them can be terrifying for them.
The Racehorse rehabilitation centres in the UK are always asking people who want to rescue an OTTB to buy through them rather than take a chance - these horses might cost a little more but someone with knowledge of the racing TB will have already assessed them, got them adjusted and ironed out the problems.
I'm not sure if people like this could offer advice on that type of facility in the US
Beyond the Blinkers | OTTB Adoption Program Spotlight: New Vocations | BloodHorse.com Blog Stable
Also, what exactly is beet pulp? I know its what left after the sugars are extracted from beets...at least think I remember reading that. But I've seen it once, at the lesson barn that I started at, and all of the horses got 1 scoop of it, young, old, easy keeper, hard keeper it didn't matter.
There I was told it was a filler, so that is how I'm looking at it..yes, it can help a bit with weight gain/fat, but its mostly just fiber filler. So when I put the beet pulp I was looking at it from more of a perspective that the horse is used to getting 'x' amount of grain, but now hes only getting 'y' amount of grain so you substitute the amount of grain he's no longer getting with 'z' amount out beet pulp, so it's not such a huge amount of a change in bulk for the horse.
Is that an incorrect way of thinking about it/use of beet pulp? If I'd have to guess, from the responses I've gotten so far I would say yes since it's been said that only older horses get beet pulp.
I've been using beet pulp for years - always look for the type that has no added molasses.
Don't feed it too sloppy, seems to put some horses off - if you've added too much water then use something to drain it through
Its a safe energy feed, high fibre - which is really good in terms of reducing colic and ulcer risk, high in calcium, low starch and phosphorus and a source of potassium
I add it too a complete pelleted feed that's also low sugar/starch and has a balance of vitamins, minerals, fats etc and Triple Crown Safe Starch forage which also has added nutrients but no added molasses like some brands
Mine is a hard keeper and he's the most easy going TB I've ever known. They are all different.
The only downside of feeding beet pulp for you would be the fact that it would most likely be in a boarding situation. It needs to be soaked before feeding. If it's soaked too far in advance and left to sit around, it can go rancid before it is fed. It may or may not be a factor for you depending on how proactive the people are who will be feeding your horse.
You don't want to change too much too fast, so best to start simple and work forward from there. Make sure you choose a barn who feeds ample amount of hay or turns horses out on pasture. If they claim their horses get plenty of hay, expect to see just that when you see the place. If horses are standing around in bare paddocks, let that tell you something. An OTTB and a barn that is stingy with food is a bad mix. Look at the other horses. If you see ribs on most of the horses, pick another place. Yes, you will most likely have to provide some supplemental fat or fiber, but the barn you pick needs to feed adequate amounts of food too. If they offer a senior feed as one of the grain choices, chose that one and wait a few weeks before you add more stuff. It's easy to get caught up in the supplement hell. It's a lot like having 12 different bottles on shampoo. They all promise the same thing and smell nice, but you could have gotten away with just one.
Basically I would start with lots of hay and a senior feed and see what you get. After that it becomes a guessing game. Some TBs respond to fat, others to fiber. Mine is a fiber horse. I tried every weight gain supplement on the market with little results. Give him free choice hay or pasture and he gets downright fat.
Mine is a super easy keeper.
He is fed 1/2 a 40L bucket of oaten chaff, a scoop of coprice P (a pellet containing Bran, Pollard, Barley and some vitamins and minerals), 50grams of livamol for his coat and 50grams of a mineral supplement (to supplement what is lacking in the soils in the area that I live) once a day. He gets ad lib meadow hay and if I fed him any more, he would be a huge fatty.
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