I think a Thoroughbred could make a great first horse, depending on the Thoroughbred and depending on the owner. We have several TBs at the place I board at.
Striker is my horse, and I think he would be okay for a beginner. However, without the assistance of a good trainer, things could go badly. Without my trainer, I would not know how to train him how to be okay with things like leg aids, suppleness, bending, etc. I could bump along on him and he probably would be just fine, but I imagine things would get pretty frustrating for both of us.
Ransom is another OTTB at our place. His rider is very experienced and she's gotten tossed a time or two.
Gage is an OTTB that has gone through a couple riders. I've personally ridden her and think she is a lot of fun, but she is also SUPER sensitive. I've seen her try to scrape a rider off on the arena wall because the rider was using too much leg. The rider actually wasn't aware she was using ANY leg!
Formal is another OTTB. I have not seen anyone ride him but his owner, and she is very experienced. I have never seen him act out, but again his rider is very good.
Remy is another OTTB with an experienced rider, so I'm not sure how he'd do with a beginner.
A friend of mine recently got an OTTB named Finnegan. He is only three, so at this time he's not for beginners, but his temperament seems like it is very similar to Striker.
Finally, my trainer owns an OTTB mare, Mazie. 98% of the time she is great, and if it weren't for the other 2% of the time, she could be used as a lesson horse. HOWEVER, the mare has an unknown "trigger" and will rear and actually has flipped over. They have been unable to figure out her trigger, therefore she is not safe. She is mostly used as a broodmare, although the most experienced riders at the barn do ride her on occasion.
As you can see, TB's come in a wide variety of temperaments. If you just look at the ones from my barn, it would seem that most are not fit for total beginners. Though I love TBs, I believe that is a fairly accurate statement. HOWEVER, I would also add a disclaimer that I do not thing ANY horse is fit for a total beginner without the guidance of a trainer or more experienced horseperson.
The very first thing I would recommend is, no matter what you do, please look into finding a good trainer to help you out. Horses can be tricky, both in everyday care and in riding. Even the most calm horse might end up being difficult once it figures out it can take advantage of the rider.
There are important things to remember before you ever get on your horse. You have to make sure the tack fits properly. When I bought my very first pony, the saddle was too wide, we tied the cinch on with a knot that poked into his side, and the bit was too narrow. The calm pony I purchased started crowhopping and refusing to move. My pony and I were very lucky in that an experienced horsewoman brought us both to her ranch for two weeks for a "boot camp" in horse owning and riding!
You also will want to make sure his pasture and shelter are safe. Horses have a way of hurting themselves on just about anything!
It also can be tricky to find the right feed. Some TB's are fine on just pasture and hay, but others need feed to supplement their diet. You will want to avoid regular "sweet feed" both because it's not the most nutritious and it can have a tendency to make even a calm horse "hot."
I suspect you ended up with a rather calm Thoroughbred if he's putting up with an inexperienced rider and she hasn't been dumped yet. It is concerning that he wouldn't stop when asked, but it's important to know HOW he was asked. Your friend may have been telling him to stop with the reins, but her body might have been telling him otherwise. If she was leaning forward, that means go. If she was accidentally bumping her with her legs, to a horse without a lot of off track training, that is confusing and they think it means GO!
Regarding the hoof picking, how are you handling the rear hooves? You have to approach them a bit differently than the fronts. It's somewhat of an awkward position that we are asking the horse to assume. You need to offer a moment for him to "give" and relax the leg so you can pick it up the rest of the way. Striker will kick out (not major, not trying to kick me in the head but he will warn me that he's uncomfortable) if I just walk up to him and try to pick his rear leg up to the point where I can pick it out. This is what I've found works best:
1. I like to pick his hooves in the same order every time. That way, he knows what's coming next and he can shift his weight automatically to prepare himself. I do not think the order matters, but I do: left front, left rear, right rear, right front.
2. When I pick up a rear hoof, I only lift it up a short distance. I hold onto the toe of his hoof until I feel him relax. Then I pick it up high enough so I can pick it out.
3. I'm not picky about WHERE the rear hoof is when I first pick it up. Striker seems most comfortable with it close to his other leg, almost touching. It seems to allow him to relax. As soon as he does relax, he has no issue with me lifting it high enough to work with.
Hope this helps. If you're interested in reading about my adventures with my off track Thoroughbred, the link is in my signature. The first part is about my experiences with a different horse I bought, Obie. Obie is not a Thoroughbred, but he was not a suitable horse for me. If you are interested, it might help you determine whether your horses is too much for you. I had to come to terms with the fact that Obie was too much for me, and there was nothing wrong with admitting that and moving on. If I hadn't, I would not have ended up with Striker, who is the absolute perfect horse for me. I would not exactly classify myself as a total beginner... I jokingly use the term "experienced beginner." I have a lot of horse experience, but have only been taking formal lessons for a couple years, and I have a lot of fear and uncertainty to work through.
It's important for everyone to find the right match for them. I hope your new horse is right for you. If not, though, please do not be afraid to admit that and move on.
(P.S. I'd love to see some pictures!!)
"In her dreams, she rides wild horses, and they carry her away on the wind." ~She Rides Wild Horses
by Kenny Rogers