Wow, what a lovely mare! What is her registered name?
She last ran in August or she came off the track and has been turned out since August? She looks like she had been let down, so I am assuming she's been turned out since then.
I've done a LOT of OTTBs, and they are always something of a surprise package the first time you ride them. I recommend having someone on the ground to hold her the first time you get on, as they are used to having the jock tossed up while they walk. Some may or may not be used to long stirrups, so sit lightly and make sure your leg is quiet. Some may or may not steer. I've found that carrying a stick and tapping them on the shoulder you want them to move away from helps in steering until they understand your hand.
As part of your groundwork, you want to install the "whoa." For the first several rides, before you get on, do a little refresher in hand: walk several paces, say whoa and expect the halt. Then once you are on, do it several times to reinforce that everything is the same whether you are on the ground or in the saddle.
To install the steering, I do a lot of figures at the walk: figure-8s, shallow serpentines, circles in every corner. This way I know what sort of steering to expect once I trot.
When I first trot, I reinforce the whoa by trotting ~10 steps and going back to the walk, then halt, walk, then trot ~10 steps, etc. You're not asking for them to be in your hand on a contact, just obedient to the transitions. If they get goofy, I tighten the circle and only let them trot ~3 steps.
They are all different, and sometimes radically so, so they defy planning for specific goals! You've just got to kind of go with it.
Good luck and have fun! She is really adorable!
Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.
She is so pretty ! I have a 6 year old OTTB who also never raced. He has had two years with baby trainers, one for his first year out of town and now with a local baby trainer. My guy had to have his "go" button installed two years ago. He is pretty mellow but has the baby tantrums at times.
Enjoy, I passed the training on to the professionals and I ride once a week on the weekend. That will change this summer since he is 6 and has been started, it will be my time now.
We used to re-train a lot of TBs for the schooling program I rode with as a teen, and the more experienced students generally were the ones doing the training (sigh).
Aside from what you've gotten above which are all true - my biggest tip is that if you're having issues with the "woah", try using something of a "pulsing" rein aid to ask for the downward transition (something like repeated half-halts). The reasoning behind this is many TBs are trained to lean INTO solid pressure - so you'll find they'll actually be more likely to slow more on the part where you SOFTEN then when you take - it's counter-intuitive for most, but it often works untill you get their brain rewired.
Very cute! Looks like a hunter to me Beyond the Track is a great resource, and you can also feel free to contact New Vocations (fb is the best way) and chat with them about it----they are very, very nice. Sounds to me like you've gotten some good advice here (I have two OTTBs); it will vary a little according to your horse's personality.
I'm on my second. Just wondering what her breeding is? She looks like she ran sprints, did she? The great thing about OTTB that actually ran for any time is you can find out exactly what they did and when, if there are long breaks, typically it's because of injury. almost 4 years on the track can have some wear and tear (I know I just got a 6 yo off the track) so just be mindful.
Very nice mare! I also have a new OTTB project, a six year old gelding. I've been riding with someone who specializes in them for a years, so I know the drill but it's always so much fun to have a new one.
I agree with Far_North, be very careful of pulling on her face, I've seen plenty of people get run off with that way! Take your time and be very correct with your flatwork before you get into too much jumping. Have fun!
^^^This was my bible when re-starting my girl, who I got as a 6 yr old off the track. With the help of my instructor at the time, it went *very* smooth.
I agree that you want to keep looped reins or very light contact at first until the horse solidly knows that pulling back = Stop, not Go.
And most importantly: Take your time!!! Please don't rush or feel like you're on a time limit. I've known a couple of people who got hurt that way. Put the groundwork and other basics in before you go forward with training.
I worked with her again today, for about 2 hours. I lunged her with the saddle on for about 20mins, and the rest i just free lunged around the arena lightly. As well, I set her up over a tiny little cross rail; She is a cute jumper and mover! Her trot is absolutely gorgeous... Lots of suspension. Her canter going right is quite unbalanced, but that seems characteristic for racehorses?
She's very quiet, not spooky. Just very pushy! But I think she just needs lots of ground work to get rid of that.. She's quite impatient!
I got my first OTTB about two years ago; he's been a joy to work with. He's had his baby moments, and has gone through his pushy phase. He was a kicker when I got him. Goodness, trimming his hooves the first time was an experience!! He dragged my poor farrier up and down the drive, and Farrier insisted we not drug him He's come leaps and bounds since, and only very occasionally offers to kick. He's still not great getting shoes on, but no longer tries to drag us around.
He's always been very pleasant to ride, with only a couple "donkey" moments. Super learning curve (which has been my experience with other peoples' OTTBs, as well), and wants to do everything perfectly.
I recommend having someone on the ground to hold her the first time you get on, as they are used to having the jock tossed up while they walk.
Just as a heads up to the OP, my (raced) TB could not and cannot handle having someone at his head when I mount. Like, he loses his mind. It really freaks him out/pisses him off, for whatever reason, and he will rear.
So, if the mare seems to dislike having someone at her head when you mount, you may want to just take her word for it.
He's totally fine with me getting on from a mounting block on a loose rein, though.
Not sure if he associates someone at his head during mounting with racing, or what.