I have a good deal of experience dealing with horses from one of the TB rescue organizations that you mentioned. There are some really lovely horses that come out of this organization (and naturally plenty of not-so-great ones too). Given the information that you've provided about your situation and experience I still must reiterate what I said earlier: don't buy an OTTB (yet).
Originally Posted by Squashnmoon
I have all the respect in the world for people at respectable TB rescue organizations (like the ones you mentioned) who work so hard to re-home/rescue TBs. Naturally, these organizations rely on the support of good horsemen/women with a penchance for OTTBs to function. But, I know firsthand that a fair number these situations do not work out (even when the adopters have the best of intentions). You would not be doing anyone any favors if you have to return a horse--least of all yourself.
I should also note that while while no horse in a reputable rescue organization should be suffering due to a lack of veterinary care, most rescues do not have the resources to treat their horses for low-level chronic conditions like ulcers, skeletomuscular issues, underlying hoof problems, etc. And you can pretty much bet that if you're purchasing an OTTB that your horse is going to have some, if not all of those problems...As I noted in an earlier post, there are exceptions to the rule, but realistically you should bank on spending a good chunk of change on your horse before you can start training/riding.
In view of that consideration, if one of your main interests in purchasing a OTTB is because they strike you as talented, inexpensive horses, now is a good time to walk away. Yes, there are OTTBs out there who are and always will be sound, sane, and healthy, with nothing more than a couple of flakes of hay a day, no shoes, and one ride a week. But don't be lured by the siren song-- I can't tell you how many people I met who were just thrilled with their new $400 equine partner-- after a few months, and a few thousand $, their smiles didn't shine quite so brightly.
Agreed. Seen that too. Cheap horse, etc. No experience. It's not good. Or to "remake" for a quick resale. Happens all the time and obviously you've seen it with your background.
That said, a person with the right attitude and requesting the info the OP has here, is JUST the kind of owner an OTTB might need.
The OP seems to be very smart and thoughtful about her possible undertaking. Most people are not, so that's about 4 yellow thumbs up for her to come here to get more experiences to learn/decide about making the decision. That I do admire and if she uses the same tactics with this horse, I suspect they will do just fine. Dunno, but I hope so.
Coming from an era when most of the horses of quality out there were OTTB's, I would say that they really aren't for green or novice riders. Yes, we survived but not without some "exciting" moments, and not without finding out that sometimes the horse we had wasn't and never would be suitable for the discipline we had in mind.
Some did come off with definite "flashback" problems, others were quiet, too quiet. And the there were the gems. But not a game for a one horse, want to move forward person.
Let someone else take the lumps, and.pay a little more for their bruises. They won't be your bruises.
I work with CANTER Mid Atlantic and I can tell you that the above is not the case with horses we own. They all get 3 months of let down where they get their feet addressed, worming, chiropractor and the dentist. Only when they are physically and mentally ready do we then start the retraining. Some horses hang out for six months if we just feel they need more time.
Originally Posted by c'est moi
those of us who retrain great the horses like they are our own. They learn basic dressage, start over fences, go trail riding, go off the farm on trips, xc school and maybe even a few shows. I get to know the horses inside and out so that we rarely make a bad match. I can only think of one horse that came back and that was more rider related than an issue with the horse.
I believe there is the RIGHT ottb for every person so my job is to find that person the right horse. I absolutely believe there are green ottbs that are kind, forgiving and easy that would suit somebody like you. I swear at times people have to come see the horses just to believe they can be as safe and easy as I describe.
I guess I put a lot of personalization behind every horse. I know many other resellers do as well. I am never afraid to tell somebody that a horse isn't a good match. Find somebody who stands behind their tbs and has taken the time to really know the horse so well that they will know exactly what type of rider the horse likes and what the horse wants to do for their second career. You also want the horse to have been in work long enough that soundness can be determined.
That is terrific that you do this. All the pre-work to let these horses down and get them matched up is awesome. I didn't know this about CANTER. Hats off to you. Wonderful.:)
NCRider - I implied no such thing. You have not read for content and are making up what you write. No sentiment as you indicated was in either of my posts and your comments bother me. If you read for content you would clearly see that I have not bashed OTTBs as a whole and told no one to stay away from them. I shared my story to give the OP one experience to provide things to think about. You can go back to being bothered now.
Originally Posted by NCRider
Having owned more than a few OTTB, I just wanted to second, third, whatever the advice to look hard at the temperament and personality of the horses that interest you. Of the horses I had, 2 polar opposites stick out. One mare was beautiful and a scary good mover...just suck your breath in wow to watch her go. She also hated people as a rule, was temperamental & go not go off schedule by 5 minutes or she unglued. She had zero self preservation and her go to way of avoiding things was to go backwards. But, Lord, she was beautiful.
Her polar opposite was a big, handsome chestnut gelding with the most wonderful ground eating canter - you felt like you were going nowhere fast as his big, relaxed stride just ate up the ground. I LOVED cantering around on this horse! His trot was flat kneed but short and icky and blech to ride. He jumped a 10 and was brave - unflappable. He went in a little mullen mouth bit in company or alone without ever a fuss over anything. He was smart and happy...the most contented horse I've ever known. He just loved people and doing anything with him was a pleasure. The mare...well, pretty is as pretty does and it got to the point where I'd rather have someone throw rocks at me for an hour than have to fool with her.
I loved all my OTTBs and have experience with them but at this point in my life (old and without bounce anymore!! haha), I'd find one that had been let down & restarted and had a great brain. You've gotten a lot of great advice here. Good luck to you in the search for the right critter. :)
OP, you can find lots of nice restarted "pre-sorted" OTTBs just via shopping. Two of my all time favorites I found via window shopping- one little mare I found on equine.com and my beloved Vernon I found, very much by accident, on a local online classified site. The mare was BARELY restarted (she'd had a month of let down and kinda sorta under saddle work. Vernon had been hacking, knew the VERY basics of w/t/c (he steered and stopped and went forward but not a ton more) and had popped over some flower boxes and other little fillers.
My CURRENT horse was much further along, but came from a business (Tebogo Sport Horses) that specializes in picking very good quality horses off the track, does a good vetting on them, lets them down, then puts them into their program and figures out which career path they'll be happiest in (they market more toward eventers and the h/j world).
You can find nice OTTBs in a variety of stages of retraining...you just gotta look (Jlee does a great job, FWIW).
CANTER organizations usually have two parts -- part of the mission is to help trainers connect with buyers. In this case, the horse comes off the track or off the farm. Some trainers do supplemental training with their horses off season so they might have more than track experience. These are the "trainer owned" listings.
Originally Posted by Squashnmoon
CANTER organizations also have some horses that belong to the organization. These are "CANTER Owned" listings. In this case, they horse may be fostered or in a training program where they get additional training. As JLeeGriffith has described, CANTER Mid Atlantic has a pretty robust program. I've followed her training blogs and read her posts. The horses she has restarted have a great base of training.
In Massachusetts, horses are fostered by individuals. I have fostered two. One I kept and the other I'm working with right now. Mu goal is to get my new CANTER horse comfortable with w/t/c trail riding, small jumps (if possible) and if I think he could handle it, foxhunting. That would be a stretch for him now, but I never thought my first CANTER horse would hunt and he's turned out to be fantastic.
It's pretty common here for to foster a horse for six or more months. The other people I know who foster are much better riders than I and when they have a horse that's ready to be adopted, I have a lot of confidence that those horses have a good base of training and that they can assess the suitability of the horse for the intended rider. By the time my current foster is ready, I'll also have a better idea of what type of riding will suit him and whether he shows any soundness concerns when in a regular program.
I've just been reading the CANTER MA blog and it's great! She/they seem to follow the standard young horse training methods that I've been studying, with allowances for the racehorse training they came with. Fascinating stuff. This confirms my desire to purchase a horse through one of these organizations. Thanks, guys!
There is also a good article in the current issue of Dressage Today about OTTB and dressage. Actually contains some very useful tips.
I have retrained and sold (kept 2) 8 OTTB s in the past 12 years.
They are great horses - the two I retained are tremendous dressage horses the older now at PSG the younger will do start
2nd this year.
BUT if you are at all a bit unsure of your ability - find one that has already got the WTC buttons in place and has had a few outings - nothing worse that losing your confidence as an adult rider it is hard to get back
But I love them and would not trade them for any other breed.
Good luck with your search
This is a Horses for Courses guide I saw years ago and saved - it has soome good info on horse choices :
A two or three year old is sometimes in a "waking dream." They can be like an infant growing up in, say, France. They might learn French as babies, then forget it when they move to a new country. Whether they re-learn it easier later doesn't really matter. Someone has to re-teach them. So, in the horse-sense, I've seen many "quiet" 3 year olds, who were started young, can walk/trot/canter/do first level/do reining/jump etc. They very often are excellent for their trainer who is a "force of will" rider. The trainer asks, the youngster reacts. Reacting is not the same as responding. Another owner comes along, even with great skills, and the horse seems to have forgotten everything, even becoming wild and erratic, because none of the learning is actually confirmed.
A four to seven year old can get, what they call in UK, the "neddies." What was a quiet youngster all of a sudden is strong enough to test, like a teenage human. They start pulling all sorts of things they never did before. Young mares start getting really strong heat cycles and test the idea that they might have to work through those cycles. Young geldings become strong enough to dislodge their humans with new, untried antics. "Potential" is the most expensive word in dressage. When I buy a horse this age, I go in with the expectation that they will advance in training. But sometimes they are in the wrong job, or with the wrong person.
An eight to ten year old is fairly proven. Their training should be solid. But that is the age when sports related injuries, repetitive motion stress, and arthritis start to kick in. These may not yet show up on radiographs.The healthy young horse who never had to work through pain before is starting to develop hock problems, etc. He starts bucking, rearing, shying where he never did before. This age of horses may move up many levels, may be stuck where they are, or with the advent of arthritis may soon need to decrease the level of work.
A twelve to sixteen year old usually "is what he is." If he is solidly trained and serviceably sound, he is likely to stay sound. Everything should show up on flexions and on the radiographs. All behaviors are usually consistently established. If it's a nutty 18 year old, he will stay nutty. If he bucks in the trial ride, he will buck at home. If he is off anywhere, he is likely to stay off. He's probably not going to advance much further but hopefully will maintain the level of training. I would like to take the older horses home for a one month trial. If they will stay sound doing what I want to do with them, they will usually stay sound. If I up the level of work too much or too soon, or totally change the older horse's job, I can create new problems.
Obviously, these are generalities and there are exceptions. ONCE, I knew a four year old gelding who was the best, quietest horse on the planet, could go in lessons with kids and continued that way for the rest of his life.