ottb as first horse.. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-28-2015, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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ottb as first horse..

just plain and simple..what are your thoughts on this?

- ottb is 8 years old and has been off the track for almost two years.
- has been restarted well.
- from my understanding, right off the track was owned by a beginner that would go on the occasional trail ride at a walk.
- is now owned by the owner/trainer of a lesson barn.
- is occasionally used in lessons - teaching 10 year old beginners in walk/trot lessons and some more intermediate lessons consisting of cantering and jumping up to 2'3.
- potential new owner is about an intermediate-beginner - more then advanced beginner, but not quite "intermediate" - can w/t/c and jump small courses - ridden green horses before well - has soft hands - can be assertive - isnt always a confident rider. would have trainer present at all times, trainer would also be riding the horse on a pretty weekly basis.

thoughts? opinions?
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-28-2015, 10:52 PM
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There are many people who are fans of OTTBs on this forum but I'm not one of them, so that colours my response. I acknowledge my prejudice.

I don't believe, as a whole, that OTTBs are suitable for a beginner or intermediate rider. There are exceptions but to an inexperienced horse person I think having a no OTTB rule is better than using their limited knowledge to try and pick a good one.

With only two years of real under saddle riding this horse to me would be equivalent to a five year old (broken at 3) of another breed, still what I would call a young, green horse. With it's history it's possible that a year or so was spent with relatively little to no work.

As a lesson horse he's in a very predictable life. With a fair amount of work in a controlled environment he is fine, so are a lot of other horses. However once privately owned he will have less work and more variable handling, new experiences...this is when a horse will show itself.

To me a beginner/intermediate horse should be super reliable. It shouldn't need a trainer present, it shouldn't need to be ridden weekly by a trainer. It should have carted people around for years through all places.

It's not so much that this horse is bad, he actually sounds alright for an OTTB, it's just that there are so many better options out there.

There are some really great, trained, experienced and reliable horses out there, and as a first horse you might only keep them a year or two, but learn so much.
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-28-2015, 11:11 PM
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IMO from your description this rider is not experienced enough for an OTTB. You say she is not always a confident rider, and despite being used in a lesson barn this horse has been raised on the racetrack. These horses are wonderful (I love them) but they are not for learner riders or nervous riders. Might go ok to start but the horse will soon take advantage of a rider who is not confident.

The plan might be that the trainer will ride it weekly. For any reason that can change and the new owner has to be able to manage it on her own.

I also back up what Saskia said:
As a lesson horse he's in a very predictable life. With a fair amount of work in a controlled environment he is fine, so are a lot of other horses. However once privately owned he will have less work and more variable handling, new experiences...this is when a horse will show itself.
Find the potential owner a horse more suited to her experience. She will be better off for it in the long term.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-28-2015, 11:30 PM
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I'm a huge OTTB fan, but based on the limited information here my guess would be that this is probably not the best match. Most (but not at all) OTTBs really thrive on quite a bit of work and a very structured program. Especially as they grow fitter, what seemed to be a very quiet horse at first can turn out to be not so quiet at all!

Certainly, it would be worth seeing the horse in person and riding him because there are exceptions to every rule/breed and he may certainly be one. But there is a huge difference between being ridden by beginners in a structured lesson program and being owned privately by a novice.

If part of the reason for considering an OTTB is due to budgetary concerns (they are often relatively inexpensive), I can suggest a potential alternate strategy. When shopping for a horse for my husband all the horses already trained specifically for the sport he wanted a horse for were way out of our budget. Instead, we found a super sweet horse who had gotten her start in life doing ranch work and then later parades, drill team, etc. I've done a lot of work with her to teach her the differences in her "new job" as a lower level dressage/hunting/jumping horse and because she's seen so much, had so many varied experience and had to do real work in the past, she's taken to it all well and most importantly has been a super safe mount for my husband.

Your friend along with a trainer's assistance might have success and fun with a horse more like this if her budget doesn't allow her to buy a horse already trained in her discipline.
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post #5 of 12 Old 10-29-2015, 12:44 AM
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Whilst it sounds like a much better bet than my first horse was(4y/o TB mare, never raced for a rider similar to what you described = HUGE mistake!), I'd be wary.

Like Saskia, I'm not a fan of OTTBs, mostly because my first horse WAS such a huge mistake, even though when I first rode her she was a saint. That being said, they can be great horses and I've seen a few that are spectacular, but I haven't ridden one under the age of 20 that I would put someone who isn't 100% confident on (believe me, I wasn't 100% confident on any of them!). IMO, I think they almost always have a 'hidden side', that side that is still racehorse. My mare had it; horses in a paddock a few hundred metres away went for a run, and she bolted.

I can also vouch for the whole lesson horse changing its tune thing. One of my current horses spent a few years carting beginners around an arena before I got him. Sluggish, but perfectly behaved. I've had him for two years now and he's a different horse, even though he's 21 and still sluggish. He plays up like any other horse would. He gets an attitude when asked to go back to going around in circles.
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-29-2015, 01:00 AM
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In this situation I'd base my response entirely on the horse's personality. I've known a few OTTBs that were excitable and energetic. I've also known just as many that were very mellow and predictable. Some I've ridden I would never own because they are real plodders. There are quite a few that without a high grain diet and tons of exercise become pretty lazy once they are mature. In general, a horse that was raced until a later age is less likely to be a steady, reliable horse for a beginner. Those that are retired after one or two races because of being too slow are often very good beginner horses. If the horse has a steady temperament and is going to be used only with a trainer helping out, he should be fine.
It's not the "off the track" label but rather the breed and personality that should be in question, if the horse has had good retraining. It's like asking if a beginner should have an Arabian. Some Arabs are rock steady, mellow and reliable for beginners. Some are hot-headed and spooky. So you just can't say until you've evaluated the particular horse.
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-29-2015, 04:46 AM
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Well I'll be the voice of contention! If the horse has been off track a while, well educated, proven already to cope well with beginners.... if the rider is not a beginner(if you can canter & jump, I wouldn't call you beginner), if they're also going to have frequent lessons & access to a trainer when needed, it actually sounds potentially a good match.
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-29-2015, 05:46 AM
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If this horse is being used for lessons for the age group and purposes described, then this sounds like a potential good match. No instructor worth their salt would put kids on an unsafe horse and the changes I've seen in lesson horses that become one owner horses have always been positive.

I hate the way we paint individual horses and horse breeds with certain negative traits. If you've dealt with many horses over the years you find that they are all as individual as humans. Each have their own individual personality and attitude and that's a whole lot more important than whatever breed they are.
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-29-2015, 07:29 AM
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Saskia wrote it much better than I could
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A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-29-2015, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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thank you everyone so much for all the responses!

to clear up a few things..its not because of financial reasons that an ottb is wanted. there is actually a pretty high purchase price max for the buyer. it just sounded like it could be a good match based on what the horse and rider has done previously.

there is also nothing against the breed in this post..obviously all breeds have horses that are hot or lazy, ect.

the buyer has always loved ottbs, just to have one and purchase one herself, it was uncertain whether or not she could actually handle it in the saddle.

also, the comment about how the horse raced and what typically makes a good first horse - she has raced 5 times, coming in dead last each time except once and then she was 8/9. her times kind of sucked as well. she was supposed to be retired after her 3rd race, but then someone else bought her like a year later and tried to race her again, she raced twice with them.

the horse would also be used about the same as it is now. i should have been more specific about the lesson thing, she teaches maybe 2-3 lessons each week. and then the trainer rides her maybe 2 days a week.
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Last edited by khorses23; 10-29-2015 at 09:00 AM.
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