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OTTBs - how likely to find one that can...

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    OTTBs - how likely to find one that can...

    How likely is it to find an OTTB that can get to 4th level? I have a microscopic horse budget - <$10k - so I'm looking at options. A WB is prob more likely to get to that level (since they are bred for that job) but I know I can't get one in my price range. I am guessing this is more of a "in theory" question than one with a real firm answer, but figured I'd ask anyway. My current WB is having SI issues and I'm not sure how long she will hold up.

    #2
    It depends what you mean by 4th level.

    I expect that any sane sound TB with good uphill conformation can learn to do all the moves at 4th level with a competent trainer. However the emphasis on extravagant gaits in the scores means you might not be winning your competitions.

    TB are very athletic horses and most modern warmbloods have a huge % of TB in them. If you think about the breeding of European WB
    ​​​ the athleticism and forward and refinement comes from the TB side. The other side is variously from cavalry and fancy coaching horses. It adds bone, size, extravagant trot gaits, and a slightly less reactive mind that will hold up to more drilling and more forceful riding than many TB will tolerate.

    Comment


      #3
      Anecdotal evidence of one: I bought a 15 yr old that failed on the track at 2. He had been trained thru PSG; once I learned my part, starting at training level, he easily got me my bronze and 4th level scores towards silver. By 20, we did PSG and he was always just shy of 60 with comments "needs more collection". But he was older then and I didn't want to push...
      So yes, its possible; not sure at all that I could pick one but there was an old timer dressage trainer from Pennsylvania who came to our NE Ohio shows that was a big TB fan.

      Comment


        #4
        Less than $10k isn't microscopic. More of us are in that category than the $10k+.

        With an OTTB I've seen people do a lot of sight unseen or straight from the track purchases trying to maximize the bang for their buck. This is a bit controversial but I feel that the walk and canter are less connected than we think. By that I mean people commonly say "if the horse has a good walk it will have a good canter". I've seen a number of horses with great walks but very lack luster canters. I think this increases the risk when buying straight from track videos because that slinky cat walk may not translate into the type of canter that will make dressage work easy.

        There's nothing wrong with buying straight from the track but I think most people would be far more successful paying a few grand more for something restarted that's schooled off property and demonstrated a good brain. You'll have a lot more fun along the way if you have the type that you can toss on a trailer, haul to a clinic, and then put in a stall while you enjoy lunch as opposed to missing day one of the clinic because your horse wouldn't load or you spend half the time fighting explosive spooking.

        For the average AA I think the brain means far more than quality of gaits. I've seen people schooling and showing PSG+ on very very average horses. I recently saw someone haul in to use an indoor and while she was schooling her baby had her GP horse tied to the side of the trailer out of sight. She prioritized a great brain and it let her get all the way to GP without having a home arena and having to haul out to places where she had to tie horses between rides. Many TBs have that type of brain (go to any event or fox hunt!) when properly exposed to the world.

        I think the typical rider is more likely to make it to 4th level of a "5 mover" with a 10 brain than a "7 mover" who pushes back every step of the way. So yes, I think with access to good training it is very possible for a TB to make it to 4th level if you buy for a good brain, three clean gaits, and do a solid PPE.



        Comment


          #5
          It is possible, attainable, and people have done it.

          If I were you, I'd take some time to look at TBs bred for sport, or TBs bred for racing that have not started race training. I believe there are few TB breeders (for sport) left in the states.

          I love picking up the war horses (ex-racers), but they do come with racing baggage and physical complaints that can become hang-ups once collection starts -- that, more than their inherent ability or natural soundness, is usually what limits their UL potential.

          When looking, look for a TB that has a naturally balanced canter. One that he does not rush into or fall out of. I mention that in particular, because some TBs off of the track have fantastic gaits, but track jewelry (mostly in SI or stifles) that limits their ability to truly sit and collect. The trot can be improved immensely; it would not be a criterion of mine for a 10 or even a 7 trot -- but it would be a criterion the horse had a fantastic, natural canter and walk. Most TBs have fantastic temperaments and will do whatever is asked of them, as long as they are sound. In looking for a serious TB prospect for UL potential, I usually categorize the movement before the personality, because I find TBs as a whole are incredibly honest and laid back kick rides once in a good program and off of race training.
          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

          Comment


            #6
            It can't be too hard if I have bought 2 in my life time. The first $800.00 straight off the track. The 2nd $1,500.00 and started by an ammie who did not know what she had.
            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
              Less than $10k isn't microscopic. More of us are in that category than the $10k+.

              With an OTTB I've seen people do a lot of sight unseen or straight from the track purchases trying to maximize the bang for their buck. This is a bit controversial but I feel that the walk and canter are less connected than we think. By that I mean people commonly say "if the horse has a good walk it will have a good canter". I've seen a number of horses with great walks but very lack luster canters. I think this increases the risk when buying straight from track videos because that slinky cat walk may not translate into the type of canter that will make dressage work easy.

              There's nothing wrong with buying straight from the track but I think most people would be far more successful paying a few grand more for something restarted that's schooled off property and demonstrated a good brain. You'll have a lot more fun along the way if you have the type that you can toss on a trailer, haul to a clinic, and then put in a stall while you enjoy lunch as opposed to missing day one of the clinic because your horse wouldn't load or you spend half the time fighting explosive spooking.

              For the average AA I think the brain means far more than quality of gaits. I've seen people schooling and showing PSG+ on very very average horses. I recently saw someone haul in to use an indoor and while she was schooling her baby had her GP horse tied to the side of the trailer out of sight. She prioritized a great brain and it let her get all the way to GP without having a home arena and having to haul out to places where she had to tie horses between rides. Many TBs have that type of brain (go to any event or fox hunt!) when properly exposed to the world.

              I think the typical rider is more likely to make it to 4th level of a "5 mover" with a 10 brain than a "7 mover" who pushes back every step of the way. So yes, I think with access to good training it is very possible for a TB to make it to 4th level if you buy for a good brain, three clean gaits, and do a solid PPE.


              I guess I thought <$10k is micro budget after looking at WB pricing for years. My horse before this one was a homebred WB out of my rather difficult tb/trak mare who I got for $1200 cuz she had "issues", lol. Unfortunately I lost my homebred to colic in 2018.

              I've thought about breeding my current mare but man, at 51 I really don't want to wait 5 more years to keep working on that last score for Bronze. I got all my scores towards it on the homebred mentioned above.

              Glad to see that there are people out there giving it a good go on TBs!

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                It is possible, attainable, and people have done it.

                If I were you, I'd take some time to look at TBs bred for sport, or TBs bred for racing that have not started race training. I believe there are few TB breeders (for sport) left in the states.

                I love picking up the war horses (ex-racers), but they do come with racing baggage and physical complaints that can become hang-ups once collection starts -- that, more than their inherent ability or natural soundness, is usually what limits their UL potential.

                ....
                What TB breeders for sport are out there? I have been watching Benchmark Sporthorses page just for grins - but so many TBs I find look very downhill. They have one that is gorgeous and good gaits that someone had tried dressage training on but apparently the horse would rather jump. And that is another concern for me... seems like most TBs want to jump and not play in the sand box, lol.

                I'm an amateur so I wouldn't know how to start looking at track horses for dressage. Most of them look super short in the walk and trot to me.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                  It depends what you mean by 4th level.

                  I expect that any sane sound TB with good uphill conformation can learn to do all the moves at 4th level with a competent trainer. However the emphasis on extravagant gaits in the scores means you might not be winning your competitions.

                  I figured a TB "in general" would not be regionally competitive... and less likely to be nationally competitive. My main goals are to show, keep working on my medals and have fun. I had a homebred WB that I got all my bronze scores on except that one last score at 3rd.... lost him to colic in 2018.

                  Thought about breeding my current mare but like I had mentioned below, I'm 51 and not sure I want to wait the 4-5 years to get a foal on the ground, grown and riding... I loved doing that when I was younger, but now... would be nice to be up and showing in maybe a year of many, lol.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If your focus is getting your medals and just having fun, a TB can definitely get u there. If your focus is to be super competitive nationally, well, look in the yearbooks, it’s mainly the Spanish and warmblood horses winning everything. But an uphill TB With an appropriate temperament for dressage should be able to compete up to the FEI level. Many do even compete FEI level.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Boomer View Post

                      What TB breeders for sport are out there? I have been watching Benchmark Sporthorses page just for grins - but so many TBs I find look very downhill. They have one that is gorgeous and good gaits that someone had tried dressage training on but apparently the horse would rather jump. And that is another concern for me... seems like most TBs want to jump and not play in the sand box, lol.

                      I'm an amateur so I wouldn't know how to start looking at track horses for dressage. Most of them look super short in the walk and trot to me.
                      Do not only look at their wither to croup relationship; look at their elbow to stifle relationship, and look at them go free if you can. Most will be short in trot and canter; you are looking at racing's wastage -- chances are, they are sore and/or being resold for off track endeavors because they are not suitable for racing. You will not get the best of what racing TBs have to offer -- and those horses are very, very nice.

                      I will concede that the average dirt bred TB will look more downhill than a WB counterpart -- this is not always guaranteed function on how they move; many people see WBs with swan necks and high withers and believe that is functionally uphill; that is not classically correct, and many horses will move differently than how their pieces are assembled. It is but a piece.

                      Benchmark has great horses, talk to Jessica - she is very open and honest and may have something worth your time. Her prices are typically sub 10K, and she gets horses from good connections.

                      Avalon Equine and Fox Haven Farms are the first I can think of in the US. Fred also left us with several good horses, but is no longer breeding, though I believe her stallion's legacy has lived on through his many offspring competing. TKR also bred TBs for years and may be able to point you in the right direction. Sadly, there are genuinely very few sport-bred TB breeders still around, and most TBs in competition these days were racing cast-offs vs specifically bred for sport.

                      I know very few TB stallions that have been put towards dressage goals, most go for eventing. That does not mean TBs cannot do what you have in mind. It's my opinion it's much more common than WB breeders would lead you to believe, the problem is, if there is a TB doing what it wasn't bred to do, it becomes competition for those WB breeders -- they are very quick to say TBs cannot do it, despite there being evidence to the contrary.

                      It is just typically easier, with a horse bred with those goals in mind. Not always, though.
                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                        Avalon Equine and Fox Haven Farms are the first I can think of in the US. Fred also left us with several good horses, but is no longer breeding, though I believe her stallion's legacy has lived on through his many offspring competing. TKR also bred TBs for years and may be able to point you in the right direction. Sadly, there are genuinely very few sport-bred TB breeders still around, and most TBs in competition these days were racing cast-offs vs specifically bred for sport.
                        So if one’s main reason to consider TBs is the price, this leads me to ask: are sport-bred TBs available for under $10k at riding age? I’d think at that price you might not even cover your costs. Your stud options would be pretty limited by cost too, right?
                        Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I'd really want to examine carefully Avalon Equine's offerings.

                          I learned to ride dressage on TBs from a woman who watched the track carefully and identified a line of TBs who were athletic but didn't run fast. She bred some to her Trak stallion. I rode her TB gelding trained through fourth, and trained and rode a mare from the same line through first and evented her through Novice before she was sold to an eventing trainer. Great minds, athleticism, but they just didn't run fast.

                          Libby2563, all of the horses of this line purchased by this trainer/breeder were well under 10K upon purchase but sold for over that when sold. She developed them herself in some situations, and with with riders like me who developed others and gave show records and experience. The mare I developed went from the track to broodmare, and I brought her back to work in dressage and eventing. She was quite athletic and rideable like a typical mare, but never dull, sold to a BNT in eventing for a client.

                          You have to really look at what is offered in the racing industry these days and identify/follow a line, like the trainer above did. Sure, it's a lot of homework but one can get "racetrack rejects" who are athletic but simply don't run fast for cheap if you know what you're looking for. That's a skill and a talent.
                          Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Boomer View Post
                            How likely is it to find an OTTB that can get to 4th level? I have a microscopic horse budget - <$10k - so I'm looking at options. A WB is prob more likely to get to that level (since they are bred for that job) but I know I can't get one in my price range. I am guessing this is more of a "in theory" question than one with a real firm answer, but figured I'd ask anyway. My current WB is having SI issues and I'm not sure how long she will hold up.
                            I can tell you first hand to network and take chances on horses. WBs are out there but it will be up to you to identify the right one who can learn and excel despite what you think and according to your skill set. You might be surprised at how many people want their WB to be in a good home with a good rider. This is especially true of non-professional breeders who bred well or professional breeders who offer offspring/horses for lower prices because of where they are in the country. Do not overmount yourself, but I can tell you that nice WBs are within your range if you do your homework.
                            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                            Comment


                              #15
                              So long as you have a good eye, or an excellent advisor on making your choice, and so long as you have the education, and ongoing guidance, with systematic training, it is far from impossible to reach your GOAL.

                              An OTTB fan. Actually I'm just a fan of good moving,well trained horses of any breed, color or stripe. Not sure about stripes though.
                              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Yes, I bred Thoroughbreds for a number of years and stood two Thoroughbred stallions. I'd still be breeding them if there was a true market for them! They will *ALWAYS* be my first choice - I love their type, temperment, intelligence, willingness and everything about them. I had a couple get to FEI, one was actually a cross with an unregistered Percheron mare that qualified for Regionals every year. My stallions were excellent sporthorse types and temperments. I bred them by myself and they were never the problem in a breeding situation. I sure miss them! OP - you might consider buying a young, unstarted WB if you don't mind waiting a bit. Good luck and don't rule out finding a good TB prospect. Most of them are not bred competitively for the track.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I've ridden a TB in fourth level. And my plan for my current guy is to at least get to 3rd. Very doable as long as you don't care as much about winning all the time or that big fancy movement.

                                  A good canter and the ability to handle some pressure. Current guy took a little bit more time to learn to handle the pressure than expected but the's really great now and rises to the occasion most of the time. He raced until he was six (then I got him through New Vocations).

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I think it's pretty easy to find a thoroughbred that can 'do' fourth level, but if you are looking to go to the big shows with the big classes and win, you're talking a much different ballgame. My trainer got her bronze on a TB, and trained (though never showed) other client thoroughbreds up to the same level. Similarly, I can think of several others in my close riding circle who have done the same.

                                    The problems aren't going to take you by surprise: the gaits in general are not going to be as expressive as a warmblood's. In my personal experience I think the biggest difference in scoring tends to come in the mediums/lengthenings, especially once you hit second level and above.

                                    As far as getting your medal, I think it's not unreasonable to think you can find a TB and make that happen. I love the TBs (OTTB and otherwise). What it really is going to come down to is the training and the riding. Some trainers in my area won't touch the TB type because they "aren't good for dressage". By comparison, other trainers who are more open minded have a great track record of bringing "off breed" (paints, the non-sexy draftxs, TBs, QHs) horses through the levels. If you find the right trainer, it's a very possible goal.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      I know of a few trainers that took multiple Thoroughbreds to GP.

                                      I also know of a trainer that got all her medals on a QH.

                                      It depends on how competitive you want to be, like others said.

                                      Comment

                                        Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by TKR View Post
                                        Yes, I bred Thoroughbreds for a number of years and stood two Thoroughbred stallions. I'd still be breeding them if there was a true market for them! They will *ALWAYS* be my first choice - I love their type, temperment, intelligence, willingness and everything about them. I had a couple get to FEI, one was actually a cross with an unregistered Percheron mare that qualified for Regionals every year. My stallions were excellent sporthorse types and temperments. I bred them by myself and they were never the problem in a breeding situation. I sure miss them! OP - you might consider buying a young, unstarted WB if you don't mind waiting a bit. Good luck and don't rule out finding a good TB prospect. Most of them are not bred competitively for the track.
                                        Wait... is this Penny? If so, I think I've met you... like years ago. I lived in Starkville MS and came to your farm to look at a horse ....

                                        Not that I'm "old" but most of the 2 yo WB's I've seen are at least $10K, if not more. That means 2 more years of waiting, trying to catch rides on other horses.... which isn't entirely bad. I've thought about breeding the mare i have (we are having serious SI issues which at this point, I'm feeling like i have a fancy trail horse) but that means I'm 56 getting on a 4 yo - and I have to wait and wait some more. I

                                        Would love to find something that I can start working back to the show ring on in 2021... not much need to this year, lol.

                                        Comment

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