Looking for any success stories from folks who have transitioned their OTTB into a steady trail horse.....
Mine is hit or miss. Sometimes he's fabulous to take out, other times drives me nuts, especially if we've trailered to a ride.
I suspect he just needs extra time, mileage, and patience, but that can be sooooo difficult to find the time.
Is he ever going to be one of those old hats that you can camp overnight with while tied to a hi-line or trailer?
I trail with my ottb. Have for the past 2 years. Hes very good when ridden consistently, first ride of the year is always interesting lol. Lots of scary trees if hes feeling good. At our last big organised ride he was actually the Go-to guy. We were near the front and had to go through a gate, for some reason the first 5 or so horses refused and WOULD NOT go through it so my boy and I went first. A friend was on her first ride with my other ottb I sold her, she was so nervous we had to pony her through the first half of the ride. The horse was fine, he was rock steady. She was just terrified as at the start a lady got tossed off her paint and when it flipped and landed on her. My other friend was also there on another ottb I sold and my 3 were the only horses there who saw the ambulance and were like "Meh, seen 'em before". But when they announced a helicopter was coming to lifelike the lady out we decided to start on the trail. So proud when the helicopter flew over us and the 3 OTTBs were fine. The girl was still scared though but both OTTBS are old hats at ponying.
Anyway, OTTBS are like any other horse, with consistency they make great trail mounts. Dunno how to add pics here or I would.
Sure, my horse is a great trail horse (and foxhunter). I think the toughest part is getting them used to "nature." I've had a few OTTBs who didn't blink an eye at heavy equipment or scary mechanical noises but a duck taking flight could leave them quaking in fear.
Of course, some horses are just braver than others. My current OTTB has been pretty good on the trails from the beginning. Sure he'd jig or bounce around a bit but he was never particularly worried. The last one I had was always on the look out for danger. It took longer for her to trust her rider.
I have one right now that I'm fostering and he's been well behaved but there's a lot of teeth grinding going on which leads me to believe that all that space is making him anxious.
Patience, miles and wet saddle blankets are your friends.
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My old OTTB was a kick butt trail horse – could ride him up down through anything. We covered lots of country, bush whacking on deer trails, jumping ravines, and pompus grass bushes. Only down side at 16.3 – I was left to do a lot of ducking under tree limbs!
I could put a beginner on him – and they would be able to canter him out on the trail in just a halter.
For him, it just took time and miles to settle after his life at the track (was turned out for a few months before re-started). He was my horse when I was a carefree teenager with LOTS of time! I put a lot of miles on him, and he was a bit hot and unsure at first - but quickly developed into a very dependable horse.
Course he also evented, showed H/J, fox hunted, and even team penned! He was Irish bred, had a great mind, tons of try. There are some TBs that really are great all rounders.
I've owned OTTBs for many decades. Some love the trails, some don't. But it's not a breed thing, it's the individual personality. I've worked with plenty of other breeds that liked/didn't like trails, too.
Of the OTTB's, one was happily wandering along, alone or with company, within weeks of his last race. One took a solid two years before he was completely relaxed and happy. The others fell in between.
Stay patient. Choose calm, steady companions. Choose comfortable, inviting trails. Remember race horses haul between tracks and trailering means something different to him than a walk in the park. Did I mention stay patient?
Originally Posted by CosMonster
But hey, if you can't indulge in rampant speculation on COTH, where can you do it?
My TB mare is an excellent trail horse. She's not an OTTB, though, as she never raced. I ran into a woman while out riding who stood my mare's sire at her farm. She told me they often took this OTTB stallion trail riding and he just loved it. I guess my mare has it in her genes.
My DD had bought an OTTB as an event prospect, but the mare hated dressage and was somewhat psychotic about jumping. She was only happy meandering around on the trail. We moved her on to a trail-only home where hopefully she is happy plodding around the mountains. It was amusing because in the ring she would get pretty hyper around the jumps - you would never believe that on the trail she would be spook-proof, husband-safe material. She was a real blast to take for a gallop on the trail because you could really go for a gallop, but she was easy to pull up and the next minute you'd be right back to a plodding walk.
Some of my TB's raced and all have transitioned into trail horses beautifully - on the buckle, up and down steep hills, etc. I've also taken alot of OTTB's for myself and others to restart into a new career and the trail was a great way for them to relax and learn. Take your time - lots of walking! Good luck!
I turned a couple of OTTBs into trail horses. Mine was gutless by nature, but sweet, very athetic and willing. Hubby's was a very responsible guy by nature.
About to enter a tight single track trail from the open, I'm leading, quail or something ahead makes a ruckus, Gutless stops dead, big-eyed, staring into trail. Responsible plants his giant forehead against Gutless's butt and pushes. Cracked us up.
I have an OTTB that started out like the OP's horse. He has gotten better over the last four years though. He has a really fast walk so he is great to lead when I am with people on gaited horses. He is also fearless at times and leads through obstacles that others are terrified of. He has his moments though. He is tireless, so a great match for my wife's Arab. Though he is athletic, his 16.1 height is not ideal for the trails, but he manages.
One question about the poster who made the comment "husband-safe material." As a husband, I take offense to that . I am a much better rider than my wife I have to question what woman would have a husband who is not a great rider?
I have an OTTB I bought as a trail horse with plans to turn to dressage. But someone did a good job teaching her trails are for relaxation. She always lets me know when we are doing ring work that she would rather be trail riding. She is absolutely fearless. I spook at stuff more than my horse. However, I cannot yet do large groups, that still in her mind means RACE. But I haven't worked on that much at all. And I haven't done a whole trail ride alone. Short rides from the barn, yes, but alone for the whole trail, not yet. But I have to think we will get there and so will you. It may just take some time. And I always have to make sure she's had exercise. Pulling her out for a trail ride somewhere after sitting a week is a NO.
One of my best friends has an OTTB who is wonderful on the trails. She ended up with him because he was a lot of horse. It took her a good bit of miles to get there, but he's now a great ambassador for the breed. She does solo rides with him and he's traffic safe, crosses water, and is even great with dogs trailing along. She came out with me a few months ago for a hunter pace and he was an absolute joy.
One of my clients had me train her OTTB for the trails as well. He had never been out and was pretty skittish in general (history of abuse). We started out ponying him with quieter horses so he could work through the kinks on he own, but now he'll lead, follow, or go alone. He is totally fearless, even when faced with some very strange sights and sounds.
The foundation was there when I first got him, but I think he and I have grown quite a bit together since I've had him... He's only 10, so he has days when he's more jumpy than others, but for the most part, he is utterly unflappable and will go wherever he's pointed. It wasn't quite so good in the beginning, but he has grown into himself over the past 5 years I've had him.
Case in point-- last week, we took a nighttime trail ride, which brought us past a big stand of bamboo at the edge of a field. Our presence must have disturbed a huge flock of birds which had taken refuge in the bamboo for the night, because all of a sudden, the entire stand of bamboo started screaming and shaking as all the birds decided to take flight at once. It scared the absolute **** out of ME, but Horse merely cocked an ear in the general direction and went about his business.
I must add that I make a point of trail-riding 75+% of the time... we really don't ride in the arena all that often. Even if we only have time for a short ride, I usually head out to the fields instead of to the arena; I think Horse is happiest when he has something different to look at as much as possible. (Side bonus-- when we DO ride in the arena, he's nice and forward and a lot of fun to ride!)
*friend of bar.ka
"Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"
I had a wonderful OTTB. Upon purchasing her, I did many years of dressage and then started trail riding and camping with her, thanks to my in-laws (country folks). She spent many years in the mountains and loved the hours of trail riding. She loved swimming and would not cross a river but swim it. She hi-lined, trailered, rode trails, jumped and did dressage for the ten years I owned her. Sadly, when riding her in the mountains, she suffered an aneurysm and collapsed on the trail. She took care of me up to the last moment. RIP Daisy Duke.
My ottb is the type you can turn out for the winter, bring him to a brand new barn in the spring, and then hop on a half hour after his arrival, no round pen no longe, and go have a trail ride to start conditioning him again.
He can also teach beginner longe lessons after several months of not being ridden.
Pretty much as close to 100% reliable as it is possible for a horse to be.