So, my brother turned me on to a guy who had an '03 OTTB for free. Didn't want to feed him anymore, didn't want to risk slaughter by running him through a sale. He is named East Trip, 20 starts (last race was last October I think) about 15K earnings. Really crapped out in his 4th year. 16 hand mahogany bay, very handsome fellow, though he could use exercise and 70 lbs. Guy said that his 12yr old son had ridden him around the yard, and that he had ridden him a couple of months ago after being left idle for 4-5 months, and he gave no trouble. Said East is just the type of horse you have to RIDE...no playing passenger, which I prefer.
Only thing they said was he was hard to keep weight on, especially while racing due to ulcers. Went to see him, handled him a bit. Dominant with other horses but fair, and not aggressive. Apparently sound, a couple of minor blemishes. Didn't vet him as he was free, and the owners would be happy to take him back if he didn't work out with me.
Brought him home last Saturday, got on him for a short time Monday. I'm going to really try him out this weekend. He seems to be a pleasant boy so far, a lookieloo but does his job. Not often you get an OTTB with GOOD leg and seat aids from what I understand, so that made me happy. Totally won't give his head though. Yanked it every time I tried to use the bit even in the tiniest way.
Now I've trained stock breeds for pleasure/trail, and started a batty young arab (3/4)X saddlebred (1/4) mare. TBs are new to me, so ANY advice would be great. Also what do you think of his lines temperment wise?
I'll get pics up this weekend. Also, having never owned a Bay (he is a darker bay) and never shown, if I got him in line for next years season, H/J maybe, or just flat work for his legs sake, what color should his tack/my clothes be and what trends are fashionable right now?
First, he may have ulcers and that may be a problem regarding weight. In addition, mine did not stop having a weight issue until he was out 24/7 (in fact, he now scorns all blankets even at below zero temps!). Second, they are not taught to be "on the bit" at the track and they often have very sensitive mouths, so this will require soft light sensitive hands and retraining on your part.
There are many here who can give fabulous advice on OTTBs, and who are far more experienced than me (ie Laurierace, Sabovee and others). But I would focus more on his transitioning to a new career and environment and less about colors.
The myth about spookiness for the OTTB is just that - a myth. Individuals of any breed differ, and often the OTTB has been exposed to so much from such a young age that they have been there, done that. My boy is also a "looker" - but he's smart and curious and likes to see what's going on, so on trails or pleasure hacks I am fine with sightseeing, he knows when we are "working" that we are working.
If he doesn't like contact, make sure you have a simple snaffle bit in his mouth. In race training, because jockeys perch and don't use leg aids, they are taught to run with a rein aid. In the beginning, you need to use an opening rein and seat/weight for turning, and a seat/weight adid for stopping. Keep it all simple, you can work your way up to contact once he learns to respond to the openining rein and seat aids.
Enjoy your OTTB. He sounds like a nice sensible guy and if you treat him fairly, you will have a horse that will work himself to death for you.
As for colors in the hunter ring... keep it simple. Basic close contact saddle, well fitting CLEAN tall boots, a good quality, wool, navy blue coat, tan breeches,and a white or light pastel shirt will never be out of place whether you're at 4-H or an A show.
Getting his teeth checked would be step one. After that, remember that a TB off the track most likely doesn't know most of the aids you will be using. You will be speaking a foreign language to him, so be patient and encouraging. He also will need to build muscle in different areas to handle the new work, so remember not to push him to hard into a frame right away. Contact means speed on the track, so keep your hands light and gradually ask him to learn to relax into a frame. Lots of transitions, trotting larger circles and figure-8's, working on beginning to bend. Keep it fun, keep him moving forward and don't let it get boring. The canter will take the longest to pull together, so don't worry if it takes a while to figure things out.
Second the thing about his teeth. Lucky's were TERRIBLE. Also, how they respond to the bit varies, too. It may just be that his teeth hurt, but Lucky hates broken snaffles, and is only just starting to get somewhere in the vicinity of the bit. (My old OTTB was the classic lug on the bit type.) He's done better in mullen mouths. You may have to experiment a bit to see what works, like with any other horse.
If you haven't done the OTTB thing before, find a copy of "Beyond The Track", by Anna Ford, who's with New Vocations. Read it cover to cover.
Turn him out as much as you can, but don't leave him to fret. High quality hay is a must. If you've never fed a TB before, the grain some of them need is a surprise.
They have thin skin-you need soft grooming tools. And treats-shameless handfeeding is your friend!
Get him dewormed and follow up on the ulcers. Be sure not to underdose the dewormer-maybe consult a vet about a 5 day Panacur treatment.
Be careful, be patient, go slow-be prepared to be ecstatic about the smallest improvement. One day, all the pieces will fall into place, and you will feel all that athletic ability, and try, and that big generous heart, and you'll be as addicted as the rest of us-good luck, and have a blast!
GREAT point about the grooming tools! We have a hard curry...which I use to get mud off my boots, NOT my horse. We have brushes: soft, softer, and waaay soft. The jelly scrubbers are great, regular curries (rubber) only acceptable during those intensively itchy stages, and of course, your fingers are preferable in any case.
I got a bunch of those skin scrubbie things from Target - they come two to a package, it's a mitt, in pastel colors, I think maybe $3 for the package? We use those after he rolls to brush off dirt, also great for after a ride.
Oh, and fly boots. A MUST. And a mask.
They are definitely more thin skinned and sensitive than your average QH, so be prepared. On the other hand, that sensitivity translates wonderfully well under saddle.
Best advice I ever got was to restart them from the ground up. Pretend they've never been under saddle.
As far as feeding, as much high quality hay as you can stuff in them (although most are used to a high grain diet and it takes a while for them to prefer hay). Then for grain, a good high fat, low NSC feed. We use Triple Crown Senior.
To address the ulcers, you can go with GastroGuard which is expensive or try one of the supplements. We use Ani-Meds UlcerGuard which works for most of ours.
Good luck. Nothing better than an OTTB. Just remember...they do want a job and can be rather creative and mischievous when they don't have one.
Most of mine have really benefitted from 24/7 turnout. I've only had one who likes his stall more than the pasture.
I also like Triple Crown feeds and start mine on Complete when I get them and adjust as necessary.
I like GastroGard for ulcers and SmartGut with lots of grass and turnout for prevention.
I pretty much treat OTTB's like regular horses. They're greener in some areas and more experienced in others. I have been fortunate that all my OTTB's have been pleasant to deal with and every single one has had a huge heart and equally big desire to please!
Good luck with your new guy and enjoy
I third (or fourth!) checking teeth first! And the high quality hay, high fat grain, and as much turnout as he'll be happy with. I have all my tbs on aloe vera juice as well. Old vet told me it works wonders with ulcers. I've used it for years with good results. They have it at walmart in the section with metamucil, etc.
Thanks for the advice guys! The vet will be out next month for teeth, I'm going to try aloe for the ulcers first, and I picked up grain and rice bran. He will be in excellent shape and fit by the end of summer. I hope to get my outdoor built by fall...I really want a rail to work on. ^_^ Oh! Here are the pics I promised, plus some of my APHA mare. *note: we are currently replacing the fencing with 5 foot non climb on 4X6s with toprail...is pretty ^_^)
First off, congratulations on your lovely new boy! I didn't know anything about OTTBs when I got my first one fresh off the track. He was such a good minded critter that I'm stuck on OTTBs probably for life .
I totally agree with checking his teeth--feet were also an issue for my first one, so that was immediately addressed. "Beyond the Track" is a great book with lots of good advice. I also got an entirely new set of gentler grooming tools and have had to curb my love of currying, although I found a great grooming mitt in the dog grooming section of Petsmart that my current horse tolerates and sometimes even likes .
Riding-wise, circles and bending are your friends. Keep your reins loose, even if they get fast. Let them figure out their pace. You also can't really "tell" a TB to do anything--you need to ask nicely. Don't push. Every now and then my boy needs a good gallop to keep him happy, although this wasn't the case with my first horse.