My OTTB's aren't often referred to that way. I think most of us use that term more often here, on the BB, when we describe (for whatever reason) horses who have spent time at the track. Perhaps that's why you're getting that impression? In the 'real world' it's not something that I mention very often - (though I don't think I mention it here very often unless there's some reason on that particular thread).
I've got four TB's who raced or trained at the track. For the two who have been off for years, it just isn't relevant to their life now. I don't even think our trainer knows that kid #2's new horse raced. Now, that fact is a bit more relevant to the two who were at the track until a few months and a few weeks ago....
Ditto. Ted has been off the track for ...13 years? 12 years? But when I do say that, it is with the implication that TBs that have raced can go on and make wonderful riding partners. For non horsey types, they think every horse is either a racehorse or a cowboy horse. When I tell them I have a TB, they often think I race him, not ride him.
But it is a very real issue here that when horses come off the track, they need homes.
I'm a fairly new owner of an OTTB. Right now, the track is a very relevant part of his history. I got him as a rescue who was sold to slaughter after coming off the track. So at this point, his former career is 90% of his life, so it is quite relevant. I have not even backed him yet, as he is to thin to saddle. He still has lots of bad habits that he learned at the track, that I am working on correcting.
If he does well in the future, I suppose I would still refer to him as an OTTB, in order to promote adoption of OTTBs for new careers. So many of these wonderful horses are sold to slaughter. If he becomes successful in his show career, he would, in my mind, become an embassador for OTTBs. I am not worried about promoting my own "skill set" but if I can get another person to think about giving a home to an OTTB because they like how mine turned out, then that would justify using the term.
I think it is a badge, and one to be proud of. Akin to rehabbing a mustang or a true rescue rehab. It identifies the treatment, care, time and knowledge that someone spent doing an arduous process. Not to say that any horse endeavor could involve as much the same, but the OTTB has some very specific issues that rehabbing must address.
It's a badge that identifies the versatility of the breed, despite the years of narrow minded race breeding focus and the narrow mindedness of the JC for not allowing AI sport TB breeding recognition. And we need this badge to reinforce this need and show that the sport TB has endured despite these bad breedings (for precocity vs endurance, and small shelly feet ....). I think that much more should even be made of it just to strengthen these points.
It identifies the point of pride that we take in a successful result, that gives a horse, that has the most heart in the world, a new career, most oftenly saving his life in the process.
The truth is what you can get other people to believe.
I always took it to be a mark of distinction. Like if someone served in the military, they are forever a veteran after that. The passage of time does not diminish the term in any way. *shrug* That's how I equate the distinction of being an OTTB. They earned it.
That's how I feel about it.
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It's a term I only use on message boards, otherwise, they are just thoroughbreds; and when asked if they raced, say yes. One raced for five years and one ran once, coming in
dead last. We now live in quarter horse country and folks are amazed how well behaved
and calm they are....and get told that there is nothing better than a good-minded thoroughbred, etc., etc., etc.......
Maybe they aren't called OTTBs in Europe because they are are OPTBs (On the Plate Thoroughbreds)? Yeah, sick joke, I know.
Considering the humoungous size of the United States compared to the United Kingdom, there are TONS of horses that need new homes. I think, like others, that referring to them as "OT" does tell people that these horses are not crazy, run away with you kind of horses (although some can be). It gives the horses another chance, I believe. Indeed, a just-a-trailriding woman at our barn (and she does NOT post on bbs) just bought a second ex-racehorse for herself because he (and her other) TB are just so mellow.
When I had an OTTB, yes, I referred to him as that here on the board. In "real" life, I called him simply a Thoroughbred or "my gelding." Like another poster said, some people think Thoroughbred means purebred. Calling them OTTB might clarify it to those people.
But all being said, I have to admit that I did not constantly refer to four of my previous Dobermans as my "rescued Dobermans" on forums unless it pertained to the context of the post. The same, when talking about my female, I did not constantly call her my "back-yard bred Doberman." That said, the funny thing is, I DO make more often call my two current dogs as my "re-homed Dobermans" (to me), as so many people know I DID do a lot or Doberman rescue. (These dogs were well-loved. Through no fault of their owners, they needed a new home, and I got them.)
Yeah, anything, terminology or whatever, can be tiring and irritating if overused. I, myself, cannot stand the constant threads of "will this color coat go with the color of my horse", or "I want this saddle/bit because it's IN", or "I would NEVER wear that color of breeches"---as if the judges really care or notice.
Maybe it's an ego thing. We all want to feel like we've made a difference. (I've found homes for over 30 cats and 40 dogs [or is it the other way around?] ) Whether we have an OTTB, an "auction" horse, a Yard-Sale Foal, or a $700 Pony (and RR, you realize that's a LOT of money for a horse now in this economy ), we like to feel that we've done a Good Thing.
And is that REALLY so bad?
Last edited by RHdobes563; Jan. 10, 2009 at 05:12 PM.
I usually refer to my horses just as TBs, but I must admit that I get a lot of "did she race?" questions, especially when someone see's how nicely she is going. Then I often get: "She is very well behaved for a horse off the track". Sigh.
Once an OTTB always an OTTB, and it is relevant because we need people to know what thoroughbreds can do once their days on the track are over.
In this country there are still an awful lot of people who assume all ex-racers are way too loony and high-strung for "average" pursuits of pleasure, trail-riding, and the like. As someone who is committed to helping rehome thoroughbreds off the track, I see the value of positive word-of-mouth that comes about when someone finds out the best schoolie in the barn, or that beautiful horse hacking quietly down the road is an OTTB.
Well Thomas, I'm not quite sure why some people refer to them as OTTBs.
I've known BTRTB (bred to race, but didn't, TB) who became an outstanding CC horse, then there's the OTTB bought outside an auction who did pretty well as a 3-Day horse, another who was an OTTB til the day they died, with occasional "Flashbacks" of really bad behavior in any situation resembling the saddling enclosure, and the one spoken of as a TB, but passing in very good company for a warmblood.
Personally I've always liked them because like mature dogs from the pound, you have a fairly good idea what you are getting.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.
I tell people at work that I have a retired race horse. They seem to think that's neat. I also think that thoroughbred sounds a little too posh on it's own. Like everyone at work would write me off as a trustfunder.
I think it's important to point out that most people who use the term OTTB don't automatically associate it with 'rescues'. It's great that the Thoroughbred rescue organizations are some of the most visible, but I certainly don't use the OTTB tag to identify horses that have been saved from some terrible fate. It's more an easy way to let others know the horse's original job.
I like the way OnThinIce said it's a term of distinction
Last edited by BeastieSlave; Jan. 10, 2009 at 02:58 PM.
It's kind of like Marines...once an OTTB, always an OTTB. Perhaps we should call them recovering OTTB's. Seriously, a horse that raced at one point is already on at least his second career, if not his third or fourth, depending on his age and what he's done since retirement.
To me, it's a badge of honor that says where the horse has been, possibly what he's been through, and is also an indication of the lifestyle he may have experienced as a youngster. I'd expect an OTTB to have vastly different developmental experiences than a home bred anything. Many of the ones who raced much also have a "been there done that" attitude that sets them apart from other horses. Oh, and usually a good work ethic, too.
Also, let's face it. OTTB's are retired for a reason. Usually, hearing a horse is an OTTB automatically makes me look at his legs. Those lip tatoos last forever, so you can't hide it even if you want to. People can look up the horse's race career and blood lines via the tatoo, if they choose. It's golden if you can find one who is retired just because he's too slow. Those get snapped up fast, because people know they can be good horses and don't have as much potential for racing-induced unsoundnesses.
Thomas, if your horse is still racing, then he's a race horse. Not an OTTB. No need to make up a new acronym.
Nutty horse are nutty horses. I don't automatically think "nutty horse" when I hear OTTB. It can be used to explain some holes in the horse's education (that should be remediated when he finds another job upon retiring), but it's not an excuse for serious problems.
p.s. I don't consider OTTB's "rescues" unless they've been through a rescue program (or independently saved) due to neglect or abuse. Even then, they aren't necessarily rescued from racing, but perhaps from people who promised the trainer/owner they'd give the horse a good home and then turned around and sold him. I know of several of these. My OTTB's retired from racing, and are not rescues. They've never been starved, neglected or abused. Worked hard in the past? Absolutely.
Last edited by matryoshka; Jan. 10, 2009 at 03:08 PM.
For me I guess it ends when people stop asking me if he came from the track or if he raced. Right now, it is a rare conversation regarding my TB that doesn't go, in some form, like this:
Other person: What is he?
Me: He's a thoroughbred.
Other person: Did he race?
Then I go into the usual story of how he is tattooed but never raced, how he is bred from chaser lines rather than flat track lines and how I think that probably had something to do with his lack of career.
I love him to bits and pieces, and have loved many TBs, off the track and otherwise. It makes very little difference to me that he was, at some point, on the track. But when people ask, I share. I'm hoping at some point that people will be more interested in his eventing record than his racing (but even that is unlikely, considering the excitement over 4 star horses that once ran on the track).
For the record- Vernon fits into NONE of the stereotypes commonly associated with OTTBs (or TBs, general). He is the quietest horse in the barn, or very close to it (I'd like to think the kids' horses are pretty darn quiet!). He is, other than his multitude of allergies, a very easy keeper. He is sound, sound, sound (touch wood, touch wood, touch wood). He has zero vices. He is, basically, wonderful. In fact, most people are equally shocked that he is (just now) 5, and off the track when they see him in action/me hop on him for a trail ride after he's been on vacation for 3 weeks.
I do like the thought that it is a badge of honor or kinda like being a Marine...however Vernon's badge barely counts, and he is far more a fantastic horse (on many levels) than an OTTB.
yellowbritches, I had a mare that bowed a tendon in training. She was tatooed but never raced. I was much more proud of the fact that she had Secretariat in her bloodline than that she'd been trained to race. She looked like a QH (very muscular), and that's what people would guess as to her breeding. She also passed her inspection into the RPSI main mare book. She's one of those TB's that took some explanation: bred for flat racing but never raced. Now she's in a good home with a lady who likes to jump. I had purchased her for eventing, until I found out I can no longer ride in an English saddle. Too bad I didn't look into side saddle! She's a cool mare. Chesnut too. My favorite color!
Oh yeah, she survived West Nile Virus, too. Lost a lot of her muscling and ended up looking more like a typical TB afterwards.