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View Full Version : How long to make a hunter out of an OTTB



altjaeger
Mar. 8, 2012, 11:41 PM
I did a search and didn't find that anyone had asked this question before. The post about a nice OTTB for sale on my local craigslist got me wondering tho, how long and how many training rides does it typically take to make a hunter out of an OTTB. My trainer requires 5 rides per week at $25/ride and I'm just wondering how much money I'd be spending to convert a $1000 horse into a hunter.

stolen virtue
Mar. 8, 2012, 11:50 PM
My OTTB who just turned 5 has been with his trainer since June 2011. He is coming along but it is a process. He is jumping and will show this a year a bit. Young horses are expensive, he also is getting chiro since he is still growing and learning how to move. The price of the horse is easy, the training is expensive.

FlashGordon
Mar. 8, 2012, 11:50 PM
There are way too many variables to even attempt to answer that question.

Too much depends on the particular horse, its history, its soundness and its brain.

Then throw in your own personal variables... what kind of rider are you, how much training experience do you have, how much time do you have, etc.

And what kind of hunter are you talking? Local shows? Rated shows?

I don't think there is any hard and fast formula here.

HuntrJumpr
Mar. 8, 2012, 11:53 PM
Exactly 17.





Or see FlashGordan's answer re: waaaayyy too many variables here. Perfect brain, fabulous trainer, no set-backs? Months. Cray-cray-crazy horse, mediocre trainer, some inconsistency? Stop counting the money you're shelling out.

naturalequus
Mar. 9, 2012, 12:11 AM
There are way too many variables to even attempt to answer that question.

Too much depends on the particular horse, its history, its soundness and its brain.

Then throw in your own personal variables... what kind of rider are you, how much training experience do you have, how much time do you have, etc.

And what kind of hunter are you talking? Local shows? Rated shows?

I don't think there is any hard and fast formula here.

:yes:

The answer: it depends. Be prepared to spend a lot of money to bring a young horse along correctly.

Long Spot
Mar. 9, 2012, 12:13 AM
The answer is 42.

TheHorseProblem
Mar. 9, 2012, 12:27 AM
Can you post some video of your horse jumping? Or pictures that show conformation?

I have owned horses that flunked hunters because of their physical limitations (a straight shoulder, an inability to get a flying change because of a dropped hip). Whether a horse can do a certain job or not can't be measured on a calculator.

Rel6
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:11 AM
I have a newly bought OTTB who I hope to make into a 3ft ch/adult hunter. You can read some of his progress here: http://roherynsretraining.tumblr.com/

There is no answer to your question. Your horse could be perfect and then go lame the day before its first show. Or it could never have the brain to go quietly around a hunter ring.

I can tell you I've had my horse for about a month. He's walk/trotting quietly on a long rein. His canter is getting there. His changes are pretty good, and he's got a great jump. But he's still green. The parts are coming along, but he won't be able to string them together for a while. I'm thinking he'll be ready to do some 2ft shows this summer if all goes according to plan. Key words: if all goes according to plan.

Little hint: it never does.

Hauwse
Mar. 9, 2012, 06:04 AM
If you are trying to figure out an equation for OTTB hunter development you are setting yourself up for failure right out of the gate.

Proper development of any horse, for any discipline takes as long as it takes.

Given that all successful Hunter qualities exist in a prospect; ability, physical and mental soundness, if a successful Hunter is your goal, not resale, time and money parameters are in general, development killers. Development is a evolving process, that has to be evaluated each time you lay hands on the horse.

I have seen plenty go from the track to the ring in as little as a month, and I have seen plenty that were best left in a field for a year, only to spend another solid year just developing the basics.

Only the horse can answer this question completely.

spaceagejuliet
Mar. 9, 2012, 06:50 AM
Impossible to estimate, but as a general rule I would say:

It will generally cost more to pay someone to make it than to buy it. This applies to most other things I do as well, cars, motorcycles, houses, its cheaper to buy it done than pay someone to fix it. It costs you labor, parts and its a process, which wont always (or ever) go smoothly. The main reason people restore cars themselves is for the love of spending 3 years in a garage. They often sell them marked, "Spent $15k in receipts, yours for $5k" etc. Plus, horses eat while being restored. Ugh.

Again, there are always exceptions, especially if you can do the parts/labor yourself, but I would use the above as the rule. If you appreciate the process of bringing along a horse, have the time and want to learn how your trainer does it (since you have one to help) then this could be a fine opportunity! It's quite rewarding, and full of wonderful lessons in horsemanship. If you are just looking to save, then I'd be very hesitant.

SummerRose
Mar. 9, 2012, 08:44 AM
The answer is 42.

This. And don't forget the towel. :lol:

JumpingAddict93
Mar. 9, 2012, 08:52 AM
Rel it was nice reading your blog about roh, he seems like hes coming along sk well!
Igot my mare a little after Rel got hers, they came off the track together. I agree with FlashGordon, it depends on your horse. One day my mare Penny (Just Plan Partners) will be very very good...the next she will show her OTTB side, spooking at everything and just being "hot". I am finding riding her almost everyday is making it better, but shes also not like thr typical thoroughbred off the track. She was too slow to race, she is realllyyyy slow and i really have to push her to get going! I even have to keep using the crop just to keep a steady trot(which isnt as forward as i would like).
So like FlashGordon had said it all depends, which i know isnt exactly what u were looking for as an answer but its very true, and it all depends on the day.

Concetta
Mar. 9, 2012, 09:13 AM
I bought an ottb last Feb ....I let him chill and didn't start doing anything with him until June....he competed at his first AA show with just 60days under saddle (and was Champion!!!beat out many fancy imported wb's)....and I did him myself -he lives at home with me...and I'm an amateur:yes: ....but he's got a great brain, and already had natural talent!

I have another ottb mare that I got back in oct...shes finally turned the corner and looks like a gorgeous hunter now....I gave her 5months of let down time...pulled her shoes and turned her out for the winter....just started working with her for the first time this week....she's coming right along and should also be very easy...(she's also half sister to my other one who is winning on the AA circuit)

So really it all depends....but I'd say the majority of all the ottbs that I've turned into hunters...took to it very easily....I must say ample let down time is very important....I always give at least 60-90 days...and wouldn't give less than 30 days ...it just givesbthem a chance to ease into their new lifestyles, and refreshes their mind,body, and spirit!

Lostboy
Mar. 9, 2012, 09:50 AM
42. Aye that's it, with some variables

GingerJumper
Mar. 9, 2012, 09:58 AM
The answer is 42.


This. And don't forget the towel. :lol:

:lol::lol::lol:

Back on topic now... entirely depends on the horse and a myriad of other variables (how the horse/trainer click, if the horse sustains an injury and needs some time off, if he/she needs to be let down... the list is nearly infinite).

With an OTTB, you really have to ask yourself how much you're willing to invest to turn this cheap horse into something nice, and if the wait will be worth it. For me, the journey itself has been incredibly fun and I'm very excited to see what lies ahead for Moose and I, no matter how long it takes. I also train him by myself (with lessons from a trainer but no training rides) so that's one cost I haven't had that it sounds like you'd be considering.

Either way, good luck! OTTBs can be a blast :)

SquishTheBunny
Mar. 9, 2012, 10:53 AM
If the horse naturally goes like a hunter, and wants to be that "type" it probably wont take long.

If its a pretty mover, but the horse is a little up, or hot, or strong etc. it will take longer.

I have had 3 TB's who have been showing in the rated hunters within a few months being off the track. I didnt look for the fanciest mover, but the horse who wants to go around like a hunter. So far, its seemed to work.

OneGrayPony
Mar. 9, 2012, 11:06 AM
Turning it into a hunter also begs the question to me...what kind of a hunter? Local? AA? 3'6"? Ammy-friendly?

How much experience do you have and will you be riding it while trainer is riding it?

How well made do you want it to be?

I think making an OTTB is not about the end result, it's about the journey. I LOVE mine. I've loved ALL of mine. But if I were looking at him as a means to an end, I'd be frustrated, because like ANY green horse or retraining project...you never know. Too many variables!

Instead I'm looking at what he will teach me, how our partnership will evolve and whether we ever show again or not, where we will go together.

fair judy
Mar. 9, 2012, 12:48 PM
this entire thread begs the question? would it take any longer or cost any more to bring along any other breed that had previous experience which would have to be unlearned? what a behind the bit swedish warmblood who has been frustrated in the dressage ring? a quarter horse who has been roping?


my first suggestion to anyone who wants to bring along a OTTB (or any TB) would be to choose a trainer who knows how to ride them. it wan't so long ago that judges were using the DBWR designation.

OneGrayPony
Mar. 9, 2012, 12:50 PM
True dat, fair judy, true dat.

Wholehearted
Mar. 9, 2012, 12:54 PM
What's a DBWR?

I also think it depends on the horse. My OTTB sucks as a hunter. I tried and tried and tried and turns out he's just a jumper. Oh well.

BeeHoney
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:05 PM
To speak in generalities here, when I buy an OTTB, I expect that in 3 months the horse will be settled into a program and I'll have an idea of what I've got and that in 6 months I'll know what I've got. IME, it would be rare to take an OTTB who is fresh off the track and have them at their first show over fences in a couple of months. If the horse has already had some time off, maybe things will go more quickly.

Ok, and it completely depends on selecting a good horse to begin with and a trainer who is familiar with OTTBs. Soundness and a good mind are critical.

EquineLVR
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:08 PM
I have had my most recent OTTB since June 2011 - dont think he will be a hunter - he has the personality and the jump to be a jumper - when I buy an OTTB I dont necassarily try and find a hunter or jumper - I let them decide as they come along.. I prefer jumpers but will do hunters if that is what the horse wants to do..

Anyhoo.. Braxton is still only jumping cross rails as he is hot and foward and was VERY TENSE when he came.. it took a very long time to undo all the tenseness.. as we did not want that to become part of the jumping..

He also was very stiff in his back so it has taken several thousand dollars of chiro, massage and accupunture to get his back to relax..

As everyone has pointed out - too many variables as each horse is an invidual..

Good luck - if you do buy an OTTB there are many rewards to bringing them along..

fair judy
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:13 PM
What's a DBWR?

I also think it depends on the horse. My OTTB sucks as a hunter. I tried and tried and tried and turns out he's just a jumper. Oh well.

:lol: Dumb Blood Wrong Ring. there actually was a time when you couldn't buy a ribbon in the hunter ring with a warmblood.

EquineLVR
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:13 PM
To speak in generalities here, when I buy an OTTB, I expect that in 3 months the horse will be settled into a program and I'll have an idea of what I've got and that in 6 months I'll know what I've got. IME, it would be rare to take an OTTB who is fresh off the track and have them at their first show over fences in a couple of months. If the horse has already had some time off, maybe things will go more quickly.

Ok, and it completely depends on selecting a good horse to begin with and a trainer who is familiar with OTTBs. Soundness and a good mind are critical.

Concur with this as well.. Fresh off the track most of mine have needed some down time..

I will also echo the soundness and good mind.. make sure you do a PPE..

I'dRatherBRiding
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:19 PM
Completely depends on the horse. Take your trainer with you to go try this one and see what he/she thinks. If your trainer hasn't had at least a couple OTTBs in the barn, you might need to find a different trainer to help you along if you get an OTTB. If you go to a local Thoroughbred rescue, they will probably be able to give you a better assessment of what a horse they have available is suited for, like Midatlantic in Maryland does. There are some very nice TBs out there that are great hunters, but the chances of happening upon one on Craigslist out of the blue without ever doing any prior research are probably a little slim.

myalter1
Mar. 9, 2012, 01:19 PM
I got my OTTB from the feed lot (impulse purchase..long story). I've had him since October 2010. We don't even do courses yet. We went through a long period where he made no progress, due to feeding issues and a BO who wouldn't budge. He had some real balance issues and it took me a year of mostly trotting to work through that. Moved to a new barn (one whole year after i got him), made TREMENDOUS progress in 6 weeks..then had some questionable soundness issues. Right about now, i am happy to ride him, happy he's quiet and rideable. Oh, and after all that trot work, he canter has become amazing (to me at least!)


Nothing ever goes according to plan. But i love my horse.

aadams89
Mar. 9, 2012, 02:02 PM
to reiterate what others have said: there are way to many variables involved with the training process to give you a real answer. I have worked with many ottbs over the years. I have had some that were showing within 2 months of coming off of the track and others that have taken over a year. Some horses are mentally/physically able to go right to work after racing, but many need down time. You can never be sure how long a racehorse will take to learn their new job. My current mare raced in May 2011. I bought her in June, hopped on her a few times, and decided to turn her out for a few months and then put her into real work early fall. Well..... she ended up having sinus issues and had to get sinus flap surgery. I just got on her last month for the first time since June!

altjaeger
Mar. 9, 2012, 06:21 PM
Thanks, I've enjoyed all the answers -- even the smart ass ones! I don't think this is for me.

2ndyrgal
Mar. 9, 2012, 09:00 PM
There are some that will convert instantly. There are some that will switch in time.

There are some that you can throw money at forever and they won't be "hunters".

GypsyQ
Mar. 9, 2012, 09:20 PM
The answer is 42.


This. And don't forget the towel. :lol:

If you have a babel fish, does it reduce the number of rides?

DMK
Mar. 9, 2012, 09:59 PM
Well it's obvious the answer is 42, but I'm still not sure what the question is?

Seriously, my old hunter went from OTTB to hunter in less than one ride. His first course was at WEF. He'd been waiting all his life to be a hunter. My first one got to the ring almost as fast, but he never was an easy ride. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been an easy ride if he'd never seen a racetrack. Another one was a bit slower to finish, but it wasn't because he was hot or spooky, it was because he had somehow managed to start SIX times without really being broke. Steering. It's important. And the one I've spent the longest on? My current one. He never raced. I bought him as a yearling and he's 5 in April. I'm not sure why we are still doing 2'6 but I think it's because I'm older and more cautious than I was when I bough the other ones along. So I can see where 42 just about covers every instance.

LilyandBaron
Mar. 9, 2012, 10:22 PM
I rode at a top sales barn for 2 years. I'm going to assume OP knows all horses are individuals. That said, the sales barn owner knew how to pick them! I kept notes on all the horses, so of the 62 OTTBs I helped retrain, most could show 2-2'6" at schooling shows within less than 6 months, with approximately 4 rides a week. But they were already let down, not race fit. Some never settled. This barn is a big source for BNTs, and BO was top rider before breaking her back. I asked how she picked them, and she said it took years and lots of lessons learned. So, if you get the sound, sane ,ready to learn OTTB, and a program that knows how to retrain them, best estimate, 6 months or so. But as others said, lots of variables! And the WBs at sales barns normally come with issues, so they took longer. WBs with no baggage aren't cheap enough to flip.

BeeHoney
Mar. 9, 2012, 11:06 PM
I think what it boils down to is that if you are a good enough rider to do the schooling yourself AND you will reasonably enjoy the schooling process, it is a reasonable thing to do to get a prospect of any type and bring it along. If you are the sort who is going to be paying a trainer to train and prepare it before you can ride and enjoy it, you are almost invariably better off just biting the bullet and buying something you can ride NOW instead.

I've seen many "prospect" purchases of all breeds and backgrounds by folks in the second category and while once in a while it works out more often than not the horse ends up in training either for a lot longer than predicted or ends up permanently being a pro-ride. I've seen folks have this issue with fancy green high dollar WB prospects just as much as OTTBs or other less expensive youngsters.

Jaideux
Mar. 10, 2012, 11:44 PM
At $500/month for training 5 days a week, here is a nifty algorithm on a $1000 horse:

- Will this horse be worth more than $1500 after the first month?
- Will it be worth more than $2000 after the second month?
- Etc (of course, this value will not increase forever, it will eventually plateau, which is another consideration for you- is the value likely to plateau at a level you are comfortable with? I don't need a plateau on par with Popeye K, thankyouverymuch- I'm fine with my horse plateauing on a much lower level)

Another way to look at it:
If a made horse costs $5000 in your area to do what you want to do, can you achieve that level with this craigslist horse in 10 months or less, AND do you have time to wait 10 months? If yes to both, the craigslist horse is the better deal (on paper, where everything goes to plan lol!)

Maybe you will be better served with a mostly-started-hunter-type that needs just a month of training. Maybe that will cost $2500 in your area, and if you add on one month of excellent training to that good brain, you get a made horse for $3000.

And here is another really important question: what do you mean by "hunter"? My one horse was born to be a hunter. Everything about him screams hunter, even when he's standing still (if that's even possible. My other horse will never be a candidate for being defined as a hunter, even if that's what he shows as simply because he doesn't hate it and I love him).

If you mean "goes around quietly, in a relaxed but forward fashion", that can be achieved much more easily with a wider range of horses than "Is competitive in the A/Os at WEF".

Some of these variables rest with the inherent nature of the horse you're considering, and some of it rests with the caliber of your trainer. You may need to even trust their opinion about the prospects of this craigslist horse, and their opinion on if you can get more bang for your buck by buying something already made up.