Owning a New and Fresh OTTB? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Owning a New and Fresh OTTB?

(Although I am not new to horses, I am new to the fact that I will be owning a fresh OTTB. I didn't know where else to post this, and if this was even in the right place.)

Hello, and good day to you all! I have some questions regarding a fresh OTTB. (I may post more questions.)

I've owned one previous OTTB, however, she was already retrained. This big ol' boy just finished his racing career last month in June and still has his racing plates. He just turned seven in April and was gelded a few years ago. He's around 15.2HH - 15.3HH. He has a gorgeous yet hot pedigree (his sire is Kipling) and won many stakes races.

I've??? chased all over the web looking for advice and I think I've got my basic structure of retraining (I'm hoping to take him to the Eventer path). Even still, I have a few questions that I can't seem to find any answers for.

1. Long Trailering. He'll be coming from Indiana to Alabama, a ten hour drive. Thankfully I have a shipper bringing him to our farm. It's getting him off the trailer I'm worried about. How stiff will he be and what can I do about it? Is there anything I should know about long trailering that would/could harm me or the horse during or after the haul?

2. Introduction to the Herd. My horses consist of an old, 16.1HH OTTB, an old, 14.2 Quarter Horse mare, a 15.2 Quarter Horse Arabian cross, and a 9.2 mini Shetland Welsh cross mare. This little mare is the boss and bodyguard of my herd. I am unsure of how this new, young, and fresh OTTB is going to fit in. The previous owner placed his temperature at a three, called him beginner-safe, and said he was low on the totem pole when it came to dominance. Mainly I am worried about fighting, as the older OTTB bullies new herd members. I am afraid of injuries more severe than the usual fighting, as I've never owned a horse with hind shoes (although they will be removed the 31st of July). Is there any advice you guys could give me on this?

3. Introduction to the Paddock. I've read that an OTTB who has never been in a paddock paces the fence. Is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable in the paddock? Should I show him the paddock without the horses first? Or can I have the horses in there to (in a sense) show him around?

I am unable to think of anymore questions at the moment, but I am sure I'll post more as the days go by. I appreciate and and all answers that are given, and will take each and every idea into consideration. ??????
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 04:32 PM
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Hi and welcome! I haven't owned any OTTB but had a friend that had 5 of them and each one was different adjusting to pasture.

However, have integrated many horses into herds. Key issue is to minimize injuries. Old horses can be severely hurt by younger ones.

It sounds as if you only have one pasture, so I am basing the following suggestions on that. If you have more than one, or can divide the one you have, it would be better to put the new horse separate for at least a month or so.

If the new OTTB has never been in pasture, that is the first step; learning about turnout. He will learn best on his own, IMO. Turn him out for a few hours (3-4) by himself, in the morning each day. Turn the other horses out after he is back in his stall. Do this for a full week.

This will allow him to investigate the pasture without worrying about what the other horses will do. It will also accustom him to grass.

His second week increase the time out to 6-8 hours for him. Put the least dominant horse from your current herd out in the pasture with the new one during his time out. Do this for 2 days or so, until you can see they are ok.

Every two days or so, add another horse with him, from least dominant to most dominant until you have the whole herd out together.

If at any time you see too much aggression, pull out the aggressive horse for a day or two.

This method has worked well for me to prevent or minimize injuries. Every once in a while, have come across a horse that just cannot be in a mixed mare/gelding herd due to aggression. If that happens you may have to split the pasture.

Looking forward to seeing pictures of your group!!
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 04:58 PM
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One of my previous riding instructors used to work part time as an exercise rider at one of the racetracks in our area and she used to bring home a lot of the racehorses that didn't do too well on the track. It's been a while, but from what I remember she used to bring them home and then just let them "be a horse" for a while before she began serious saddle training with them. She did begin manners training right away because a lot of them had zero of that.

She would keep them separate from the other horses until they got their shoes removed and until they calmed down about turnout and then she would gradually introduce them to the other horses. About a year before I switched barns I remember she got a beautiful black TB and he would pace the fence line constantly for the first few weeks he was there. But he was very sweet and once he understood the process he was easy to turn out with everyone else and got along pretty well with everyone, and was one of the few geldings that could be turned out with her stallion. Once training began she pretty much treated him as if he had never had a saddle on his back before. He was fairly intelligent and picked things up pretty quickly. Her twelve year old daughter could ride him and I think about a year or so after she got him she was using him for lessons for intermediate and advanced riders.

Not sure about the trailering. I don't think ten hours is an extremely long time but I think it also depends on the hauler and type of trailer the horse will be in/how big it is. If you are using a van hauler I think a lot of them are bigger and allow the horse more movement. If it is a "typical" horse trailer the horse may be more stiff coming off. Some haulers can spread the trip across two days and stay overnight at a designated barn and make sure your horse gets a break and is not stuck in the trailer for extended periods of time. I would chat with his current owner and see how he has hauled in the past and if he has done any long distance hauls before and how he handled them.

Good luck and post some pictures. :)
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 04:59 PM
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Welcome!

As for trailering, I would just walk him in hand around your property when he gets unloaded, let him stretch out and use his muscles, do this for a good 20 mins or so and should help with any stiffness. Being an OTTB I'm sure he's been trailered long distance before and such, I would just walk him the day/next couple days to avoid him getting to sore.

With putting him with the herd, either way, when he gets in there they will still have to work out a pecking order for themselves.
It may work out that your dominant horse pulls him into line straight away.
Being just straight off the track, he obviously needs to learn fences/pasture ect. But in my neck of the woods, TBs that are spelling for any reason, generally just get chucked in the paddock with others regardless.

At my stable, when new horses come in they go straight in with the herd, which I think works well. They sort it out themselves, the newbie might be on the outer for a few weeks and keep his distance until he finds his place. And aside from some nicks/bites so long as the pasture is big enough that they can get away I don't think it will be a problem.

Good luck! Please send photos!
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 05:16 PM
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my friend with the 5 OTTB always put them out by themselves first too. Many of them were terrified to be out in a pasture, and had no idea how to deal with other horses.

One of them would immediately swim across the pond (there was no fence there) and return to the barn. It took a month before he would stay out in the pasture, with or without another horse. He was just terrified to be outside. He did not try to return to the barn when being ridden, so we knew it was the pasture that bothered him.

Another one kept jumping the fence when a horse would approach him, and trotting down the driveway! We had to keep the driveway gated for a while to keep him in.

None of them were aggressive at all though, which was good!
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 05:52 PM
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For long hauls DO NOT wrap their legs, it conducts heat under the legs and can cause problems if they were to come undone. I would handle him with a stud chain when he first comes off the trailer. He is going to think he's going to the track to race. He will be pumped and there will be adrenaline, without the chain he may pull you around like a rag doll. For the first week I kept my ottb with a stud chain because if he had a moment he could have easily pulled me behind him like a flag.

I'd also look into supplementing him for magnesium and treating for ulcers. 90% of racehorses have ulcers. I would consider treating him for ulcers as well as look into a purina product called outlast which helps regulate the pH of the horses stomach which can help with preventing ulcers and help horses with ulcers. It did wonders on my ottb. I also use a product called supersport from purina which is also phenomenal once you bring him into work. It's an amino acid supplement, it will not make him hot or tense but it helps with muscle recovery and muscular development.

https://www.purinamills.com/horse-feed/campaign/outlast
https://www.purinamills.com/horse-fe...cid-supplement
https://shop.performanceequinenutrit...store-p45.aspx
Note free shipping if take questionaire.

When I brought my ottb home, I immediately treated him for ulcers. He had pretty obvious symptoms. He just looked uncomfortable in his body, not finishing his food, touchy around his belly, would nip at everyone but me, etc. He made me super nervous the first few days because he wasn't pooping or eating a whole lot. I put him on magnesium because it helps with muscle tension and he had pretty tight muscles all over his body and was just so up. I think it's made a big difference, my wb mare has to be on magnesium or she doesn't move quite sound. Then putting him into work, I supplemented him with supersport to help aid in muscle recovery and development. It makes a BIG difference. Super effective. The outlast helped him be even more comfortable in his body. I saw a difference within a day, finishing his hay, wasnt touchy around his stomach, etc. It's an excellent product.

ACE. I gave 2ccs of ace intramuscular to my ottb the first two days, then 1.5, 1, 0.5 etc and weaned him down over the course of a week. I used it before turnout and let it sit in his system for 30min to be on the safe side because they DO NOT know what to do with freedom and WILL go and go and go, stress themselves out and it's just less productive imo. It's better to start out with them being a little snockered going into turnout, so they learn not to have a stress or panic reaction to turnout. It can be pretty overwhelming for them, especially depending on how hot his temperament is and how long he was on the track. My guy is fairly hot. He has a good brain but he is hot.

I'd monitor him while he's in turnout (not glare at him but just see how he is, if he just looks stressed, upset and running I'd bring him in) and don't leave him out for an excessive amount of time to start or they get stressed out and upset because they're not used to turnout. Gradually increase time. I'd also start in a smaller space before moving him to a big field. Small paddock before big field because the big field can be overwhelming. I'd keep him isolated for at least the first few days-week. Not totally isolated, so he can see them but not in the herd.
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Last edited by DanteDressageNerd; 07-23-2017 at 05:57 PM.
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 06:05 PM
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My instructor had to treat a few of her OTTBs for ulcers as well. I think she used a similar product (or maybe the same product) to the Purina Outlast that DanteDressageNerd was talking about. Not all of them needed it, but I do remember a few that did (including the black one I talked about in my other post).

Yes, depending on the size of pasture/paddock/turn out areas you have you may consider putting him in a smaller area depending on how well he is doing with turn out. Has his current owner done any turn out with him or no? When the OTTB at my old barn came in he had his stall with its own private run and then he would get turned out in a small paddock next to the largest paddock so he could still see, smell, and hear everybody else but it was small enough he couldn't get into too much trouble and he could be easily caught if he was freaking out too much. I don't think he got that bad though. It would probably depend on your horse and how excitable he is in general. I do agree that coming off the trailer he may be a bit full of himself.
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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We are starting him on an Ulcer Guard and calming supplement once he gets here. When I bring him back into work I will put him on MSM and see how it goes from there.

I believe I forgot to mention the 15.2 Quarter Horse Arabian cross will be going back to his owner, my instructor, in August. He was staying the summer for me to keep him in shape while the owner was away.

I am not too keen on the idea of using a shank chain on him, and judging by his videos I don't believe he needs one. I also do not like the idea of using Ace. For one reason, we do not have the money to buy Ace just for this (there is no other reason we would use Ace, and our vet only sells it in one size), secondly, I do not know how to properly give Ace.

I think I'll walk alongside him (with the halter, of course) while introducing the first pasture to him (I should have clarified in the original post I have three). After showing him the water source, fence lines, and shade ( 2/3 of our paddocks have trees for shade), I'll judge his attitude and temperament there before letting him go loose (without herd). I cannot afford to keep him in his stall with timed turnout. I can, however, afford to keep him separate from the herd for a few days while still being able to see them. On the off chance he is reacting well to the paddock(s), I may turn the herd out with him.

I have now thought of yet another question.

4. Different Climates. The climate average climate where he is at is normal to be in the 70s or 80s... It's normal where is he going for the weather to be over 100. How can I help him with climate shock? I know this weather is going to make him overheat almost immediately when he gets here.

Thank you all for the kind and helpful responses! With this newfound advice I feel more confident getting this new guy!
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 10:00 PM
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That sounds like a good plan.

I agreed, if he doesn't need a stub chain/shank then don't use one. He might be looky, but just get a feel for him and I'd guess you'll know pretty quickly if you can manage a walk around or if he gets a bit to hot headed to handle anyway.

Ahh the life of hot climates. I'm from a tropical hot/humid horror of a place to be right now.
Not sure where you are, this may not apply if you're not in an overly humid place.
One thing my vet told me, is that different horses react differently, and you just can't pick it.
Some horses can go to a hotter/humid place and have no issues whatsoever, and others can really struggle with it.

Advice to help him cool down, would be, hose him down, get him nice and cooled off in the hottest parts of the day if you can, ensure he's in the pasture that has sufficient shade/cool water etc, while adjusting only work him in the cooler parts of day (early morn/late evening)
Those things will help if he gets hot, but otherwise, he will adjust, and hopefully adjusts well!
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-23-2017, 11:19 PM
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They sell evaporative cooling sheets, neck wraps, and leg wraps for horses now. I use them on my SAR dogs during the summer here and they work well to keep them cool without chilling them, and work on both hot dry days and hot humid days. Not sure how well they'd work with a horse but they might be worth a look. They seem kind of expensive for the amount of use you'd probably get out of it, though.

I'm looking at bringing a horse from Minnesota here to New Mexico. I can't imagine how that climate adjustment will go! But I guess it really does depend on the horse. My mountain born-and-raised Appaloosa mare never grew a good winter coat so she had to be blanketed during the coldest periods, but my fancy ISH gelding grew a winter coat like a bear and never needed a blanket. Just keep an eye on your new guy and adjust your training schedule around his comfort level for the first few weeks until you are sure he has adjusted to your climate. I would also monitor his vital signs daily for the first week just to make sure he is doing okay.

I am paranoid about monitoring vital signs and I always take vitals shortly after they step off the trailer and then again a few hours after they have settled in. If his temp stays too high for a long period of time and he shows signs of dehydration you should put a call in to your vet.

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