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OTTB Conformation Clinic Idea

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  • OTTB Conformation Clinic Idea

    Way back there was a very lively debate going on OTTB conformation and suitability.

    Function over form.

    Bounced around some ideas @ track visits etc but never got it off the ground.

    Its been floating thru the open spaces in my brain for quite a while w/ a twist. Unfortunately while I am great on concept not so good at incept.

    With the right "People" this thing could be pulled off and maybe snow balled.

    1st off its for OTTB only, that affordable available athlete eventers do love.

    Here's my proposal.

    To do a Conformation Clinic...need Clinicians and indoor.

    My idea, we hold a Conformation Clinic...have respected Rider/trainer as well as Vet, Farrier and Conformation Judge???????.

    Invite a limited amount of OTTB re-seller's to particiapte. (20 horses ??) limit of 4 horses per re-seller.
    They pay a fee of say $25.00 per horse (there's more hold on)

    Horses are lined -up conformation class style...do a 1X down n back jog, Clinicians are given a scoring form and get to walk the line and place horses.
    Judges do same.

    Horses are lined up in 1st to last. order.....Discussion ensues.

    Have a couple horses to do hands on comparisons, theses horses brought in w/ obvious and less obvious confromation issues, not part of the show group.

    Then horses come back under tack and do trot both ways 1X canter same then jump simple line and a combination...you get to score. Individually

    You score again, then compare to Conformation score...discussion.

    The horses all have to have raced been off track 90 days but no more than 2 years.
    brief bio for each horse like a catalogue page, pedigree race history.
    Horses not to have done more than 2 novice events.

    Now they are for sale...no there will be no auction.

    Clinicans will get a contact sheet and CD of horse (provided by owner) available.

    Horses will be offered in price ranges of under $10K.??

    All need to be sound w/ no pre-exisitng known injury like a slabbed knee and bad wind.

    This could really be fun and informative, Show Case OTTB for sale.

    We get to see alot of diffrent shapes, sizes and conformation combinations, see "who is who" in relationship to pedigree.

    Can combine with some re-training tips??

    What say COTHer's February approaches with little to do but watch the ring freeze....

  • #2
    Actually I had been tossing around the idea of doing something like this to educate our buyers (and our browsers).

    My idea was to have several TBs in various states (active racehorses, horses after letdown with little work, and horses after retraining and remuscling), and teach about function and what to look for, and also about how horses look at the track vs. after.

    Had a GREAT clinician in mind, too, but at the time couldn't swing the up-front costs (and needed to think about a venue as well, heh).

    We're still working through ideas to do a series of informational seminars/clinics on various issues related to buying TBs off the track - one about farriery, one about common vet issues and such, etc.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.


    • #3
      I like this idea, as an admirer of OTTBs, owned two, and love these athletes and seeing them go into new athletic carreers. The need for this education is great and the clinic idea is phenomenal.

      I would suggest, however, that trainers/owners of OTTBs yet to be sold will probably not want to submit their sales horses to the kind of scruitiny we as potential buyers want to educate ourselves about - the sellers MAY want to come to a clinic to be better educated themselves about the future carreers their horses would be suitable for, but for them to bring a horse for such 'negative' (in their mind) scruitiny would be similar to asking any seller of an animal say online to submit the horse to a conformation critique from the very group (say, COTH) which they hope to sell the horse to.

      I would suggest that an excellent subject group can be gathered with the simple clinic format many clnicicians already use: Interested owners of OTTBs, newly purchased, or having some issue with retraining, or having the horse for a while, yet concerned about its suitablity in some way, would bring their own horses to the clinic.

      For example, recently we had a clinic with a horse trainer and behaviourist at our barn, and people from the area brought horses with a variety of behaviour issues, from mares turning and running home in the middle of a trail ride to third level dresage horses exploding in the middle of piaffe training, to bucking or pulling or evading, or acting out during handling. Each horse was presented and evaluated and techniques for addressing their issue demonstrated.

      If 10 to 15 horses were brought in and presented by their new owners describing their history, shoeing, lameness, conditioning, behaviour, let down period, stumbling blocks over new training, inability to learn to canter, whatever, each horse could be addressed in regards to conformation, history of handling, psychological needs in a new regimine, inability to gain weight and special OTTB feed considerations, etc, the participants could certainly all learn something from each unique horse, owner, usability and outline for future training plans.

      I think the current owners, even if the horse is resale project, will be the ones to benefit, as they are the ones evolving a training program for the animals and are the ones who need to know now what the animal needs, and the format and participation would much more concise and linear and focused on a horse's future and potential in this way.

      I hope I have been able to explain the difference between what I am thinking and the OP's idea. Carry on!
      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


      • #4
        I would totally participate but my horse isn't for sale. Agree that people trying to sell their horse might not be as willing to make candid feedback public Was there a reason that they all had to be for sale?


        • #5
          I agree with the above--outside of the context of the sale I think it would be really interesting to see, and something you might be able to charge auditors for too.

          If I were an auditor I would pay to see various OTTBs critiqued, the greater range the better (as in, veteran competitors, those directly OTT, those that didn't stay sound for competition).

          I'm not sure I'd pay a lot to have my OTTB critiqued, especially if I was there to bring the "bad" example, but I would enjoy the experience of seeing the whole group critiqued, watching their movement.

          The sale aspect, or only seeing horses in the narrow range proposed (90days - 2 yrs off track, <10K, <2 novices, sound) I think would make it less educational, though I can see why it might draw some sellers with horses in fitting those criteria, and why those sellers might be willing to pay for the advertising more than owners of horses not for sale.


          • Original Poster

            The horses would be pre screened, so the idea of a horse being that out of ..whack...would be eliminated.

            Those used as subject models would be choose for obvious reasons...

            The one idea is to have not just a lively and informative discussion but to "show Case" those re-started for sale horses.

            After seeing a horse stand stripped its nice to see how the whole package functions under tack.

            Since its for OTTB the Vet and Farrier maybe Pro Bono??
            Get a discount on the venue??

            With a fair attendance fee and fee per horse it needn't be to cumbersome financially.

            If your talking one of those Big Name Big Time book writing Clnicians $$$$...no way.

            This has to be geared to be from real in the trenches horsepersons who have competed to ****advanced level?? know how to make a horse and what will work and when its not Perfect but ain't broke and works.
            Horses adapt and do overcome, and while there are some unforgiving faults no one can live with.
            alot of time when it all comes together under tack in a working enviorment it actually works really well.
            Why you need to see horse standing and doing to educate your eye....

            In a perfect world you would have a video diary of a OTTB from 1st day off track...w/t/c and free jump ...thru let down, muscle mass loss, and then working back into its new frame.
            But that in itself is a project to chronicle.


            • #7
              I am SO totally an advocate of getting OTTBs into second homes. I think a minor adjustment to the OP's plan might be in order. The problem is, who wants to go home with the horse that has the worst marks? Maybe I didn't read correctly, but I thought I understood a definite "high horse/low horse" scoring and I feel pretty sure that low horse is going to have a hard time finding a home, and that effect in fact will reach on up into the ranks, rather than the good horse "aura" reaching down. Don't get me wrong - I am FOR the idea of educating the public that these horse are top notch bargains. I am just saying beware the hierarchy effect that we're all taught to bow down to as a by-product of...well, everything from competitive sport to the corporate jungle. Can you find a way to do this event without saying, this horse is best, this one is worst, or this one gets a numeric score of 10, this one gets a 2, yada yada? For instance, make the scoring say, with these hind end angles, this shoulder and neck, this horse is more likely to do well at X career? as opposed to entry # B, with the more suspended action and large overtrack, who might do better at...you see what I'm saying? Maybe that was what you were actually driving at any way and I misunderstood. I've just watched people's behavior with all kinds of selling - I was a creative director for an ad/multimedia agency for a while, and I've seen our sad little psyches at work for too long .
              Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


              • Original Poster

                The idea to show case re-started OTTB in one place and be educational is novel...brings sellers and buyers together in a neutral place.

                And hey no one says you have to buy, and the idea is not to sell them there that day, but to show what you can get and what you can do with an OTTB.

                The reason for the restricted time frame OT is because there are a TON of TB horses for sale.
                This format would be to see learn about what you can get and what you can do with OTTB pre-started affordably price.
                If its been off the track for 4-5 years and competing well guess what its a TB bought from the track and Re-trained,Not an OTTB re-started.Lots of buyers are leary of tempermant and soundness issues, adaptation to job and what they will get as horse moves thru re-education.
                How will it build on the frame and change?
                Lots of buyers are on limited budgets and to see a whole bunch of horses in one place and no pressure to buy is awesome.

                The intent is not to trash and burn anyones horse, and the emphasis would not be on what it Can't Do but it Can Do.

                One man's trash is anothers treasure.
                I would gladly bring 4.....and take the lumps.

                When you sell horses no 2 people ever see or feel the same thing. Everyone see's something diffrent and the sharing of that knowledge only helps us grown and learn.

                No one wins no one losses, certainly no blue ribbons and in every endeavor there is a 1st and a last even if its only a line @ Mcdonalds.

                There are ways to do the Clinic/conformation to sooth a wounded ego...but IMHO opinion check your ego @ the door and learn.

                If you disagree well thats what makes a debate.

                You wouldn't be expected or asked to bring a check book and make a purchase.

                Horse People like to look at horses, they love to share their opinions and even learn from others.

                Not everyone is brave enough to go buy straight off the track, and not everyone has the wallet to buy a horse who has been out there competing/training for 3-5 years.

                Alot want to buy a pre-started horse they can finish and make their own and to being able to compare Apples to Apples , have fun, meet people, possibly learn something or get and idea of what to look for sounds fun to me.


                • Original Poster

                  This was not to about the prettiest most perfect pony...

                  You would see the diffrences in what people saw if they were to be able to judge and rank the horses themselves.

                  Its about training the "Eye"

                  The invited Jury would also give independant assesments or ...Observations...not a collective 1 single score.

                  There are ways to group w/ best should vrs best rear end best head neck set, etc.
                  but to then get a chance to see how it actually functions under tack puts a great perspective on how the whole package works.

                  No one is going to have "The Worst" horse...or heck I can go find a Worst horse as a ringer to throw in there!!!

                  Certainly you would hope to not get a ewe necked, back of the knee, sway backed, cow hocked, wind sucker, with a blind eye and 2 bowed tendons now would you??


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by judybigredpony View Post

                    Horses are lined -up conformation class style...do a 1X down n back jog, Clinicians are given a scoring form and get to walk the line and place horses.

                    Judges do same.

                    Horses are lined up in 1st to last. order.....

                    Now they are for sale...
                    Guess I just misunderstood. No blood, no foul.
                    Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


                    • #11
                      I think Steuart Pittman did/does something similar. Not the sale aspect...but the show case aspect. They have OTTBs fresh off the track, ones that had been restarted and ones further in their training. Showing what nice horses they are and what sport performers they can and do become.

                      Maybe look up what he has done....and add more to increase the sale aspect of it.

                      You could always have the horses being used as examples for conformation and movement NOT be sale horses (just used for examples)....and then have the sale horses there for people to take a look at after their eye has been more educated.
                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                        You could always have the horses being used as examples for conformation and movement NOT be sale horses (just used for examples)....and then have the sale horses there for people to take a look at after their eye has been more educated.
                        Ooooo, I would definitely be there if you could use non-sale horses for conformation critique.

                        What a fabulous idea though. I gathering of individuals all with an interest in the Thoroughbred for sport. Could be quite the event.
                        '10 Dolce Latte G - Thoroughbred Mare


                        • Original Poster

                          Why would the critiqued horses not have to be for sale??

                          The whole thing becomes cumbersome if you can't combine.

                          Why would you not come if the horses were for sale??

                          No one says you have to buy one, they aren't being sold there that day but more of a show case.

                          And where does everyone necessarly feel if rated 1-20 and # 20 is well #20 doesn't mean squat except the others were ahead, the ideal is for EVERYONE to get a chance to view and give their impressions not to rip to shreds anyones horse.
                          A whole lot of people expressing their opinions independently aren't going to get anything Right or Wrong,horses prove you wrong every single day!

                          This wasn't about winning but education and the "Eye".
                          Seeing a horses conformation and then what it can do with it. All at the same time bringing buyers and sellers together, when perhaps the buyer wouldn't travel so far or get to see as many horses in one place at one time.

                          Giving the not quite ready to take a plunge person a chance to learn about conformation and having enough education so they can be more confident to go out and buy a horse off the track.

                          There is so much that this format could do, if you all took the stick stuck out about the horses being for sale.

                          If you don't want to put your horse in..no one is twisitng an arm...if you wanted to look and participate there is no rule you need X amount of Dollars to partcicpate.

                          Why is everyone so hung up on the being for sale part...there won't be an auction or announcements.

                          There would be a catalogue w/ info as part of the packet to Auditors for future reference.

                          Good Lord this was a Germ of an idea not something sand blasted in stone...but getting real OTTB sellers, buyers, students of a chance to kill alot of birds w/ one stone.


                          • #14
                            I think it is more sellers who wouldn't want to bring their horses if they had to be critiqued......that was more the point.

                            I know I had a friend who loaned her horse to a dressage judging clinic. It was mare for sale and she rode a nice test. As part of the judging....the clinician noted that the mare had a somewhat lateral canter. This would cause a deduction on her collective score for gaits.

                            Not something you really want pointed out so clearly to potential judges of this horse and buyers. It was perfectly true....My friend was just just not so excited to have it be so loudly pronounced.

                            As a potential buyer....I don't care either way (sale horses or non-sale horses being critiqued). I do think it is a good idea. Nice way to have nice horses put together for potential buyers....and showcase some nice OTTBs.
                            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                            • Original Poster

                              I took alot of diffrent people over a span of time to look at one particular horse at the track.

                              everyone of them could only see the wall running pawing horse, head straight up when in Equisizer bouncing off the walls.

                              I saw something "IT" diffrent and got so mad I bought him.

                              He still will get stir crazy in a new place for a few hours, but the event rider who came to look about a week after I took him off track saw "IT" to. Horse is a Rock Star.
                              But you just had to know what to look for and the questions to ask.

                              Some people can't don't won't and this sort of format might give them the tools and hopefully sell a horse or 2.

                              The horse your friend took the Dressage Clninc...well one judge one day their opinion...another day another judge....and if it had such a flaw well she knew it if it had been shown and any prospective buyer would want to see the old tests and scores anyway so she wasn't hiding anything.


                              • #16
                                I think for sale/not for sale, whatever, I'd love to attend either way. What a learning experience this could be! I just don't happen to have an OTTB for sale at the moment. My OTTB is a keeper and the one TB I do have for sale isn't OT. I love having my horses judged good, bad or otherwise. Of course they're going to have downfalls. What horse is perfect?

                                Do the horses being critiqued have to be off track? What about homebred Thoroughbreds for sport? Or does that ruin the point of the clinic?
                                '10 Dolce Latte G - Thoroughbred Mare


                                • Original Poster

                                  what is a major flaw to one person may not be to another one. We all have things we live with that others would not.
                                  Bornfreenowexpensive...I get your point exactly...

                                  This is an educational idea...combined with having the horses there who would be for sale if someone choose to pursue.

                                  The venue/vendor would have no finacial stake or commision or endorsement.

                                  The whole idea was a conformation clinic geared to Educating The "Eye" of a prospective OTTB buyer and using horses who are genuine OTTB already let down and re-started who are for sale.

                                  Bringing Students, buyers, potential/future buyers together and able to learn. Maybe get a good working knowledge of what you said as well as seeing how the "form" Conformation flaws and strenghts can work together.

                                  Teach people how to go and look at an OTTB warts and all. look thru some superfulous stuff.

                                  What questions to ask the trainer, what red flags to look out for, the process.

                                  Anyone at anytime can already go ahead and look at beautifully conditioned horses w/ years of good education put on the chassie...but they have no idea what that horse looked like as a strip down model.


                                  • #18
                                    Let's not get stuck in the weeds here

                                    This is such a great idea, and now that the concern has been raised, organizers can certainly be sensitive to the sensitivities/needs of folks whose horses actually are for sale (and most everybody who coaches/ teaches anything knows how to find something nice to say about just about any horse )..or maybe take OP on her offer to throw in a "ringer" with conformation flaws who's found some level of success nonethless ( or not, whatever)...but the basic idea really, really is something that would be so helpful to prospective OTTB buyers and I'd hate to see it get derailed by a possible issue that could easily be managed very easily....


                                    • #19
                                      Judy- this is just my personal opinion but it is very hard to teach people 'the eye" without the opportunity to see a lot of horses that come from the track and go all the way into new careers. You have to put your eye on tons of horses and see the results of your prediction not just stand and look at a few and think you know it all I have been doing strictly ottb's for years and I like to think I have the eye and a truly good gage for how a horse will turn out but I get the chance to evaluate a TON of horses both at the track and just being able to sit on everything that is donated to CANTER.

                                      I will brag but I can pick out a seriously good horse when other people are sitting there going YUCK This guy was for sale on CANTER just a plain bay 16 h little bit of ankle rounding. Nobody bought him and the trainer donated him. Fairweather and I went this is the one and sure enough
                                      He had the right conformation and just the right look. I have a few more hanging out in the fields right now that are totally going to be rockstars but to look at them you would think OMG Jess has gone crazy I will always believe that standing there looking at one at the track and predicting what it will become is very hard to do but when you have some more tools (personal knowledge of the trainers, owners, breeding, vets, jockeys and that sort of thing) you become much better at it.

                                      I talked a little bit about my opinion in the diamond in the rough thread but I believe that people have a very hard time buying horses that are in that initial 3-6 month off the track phase. Horses at the track are beautifully groomed, muscled and generally in top condition. They are fit and on the muscle and present a nice picture. You take that gorgeous horse and let it just be a horse for a few months and they lose all the muscle and they just don't look as good. Someone looking in the under $5k price range is generally going to see a horse who is working through the process of letting down. They may have lost muscle, weight, conditioning and are now a bit weak in hind end from lack of stabilizing muscle. I find the horses that come off the track get a bit loosey goosey in the body during the phase of let down and it takes several months of proper conditioning to get the strong.

                                      You have to be educated to see past some of these issues to predict the future and it's hard! Then you have to get the horse to the vet check and have them pass. Of course not saying Tb's have issues passing the vet checks but I do find that a lot of buyers are looking for the perfect horse and there is just no such thing. Tb's work for a living so I think you get a better evaluation as to what they can withstand because they have already been working compared to horses who have not. Yet, everyone wants the horse that is perfectly clean legged even if they only intend on going BN. Knocks a lot of really fantastic horses out of the running who have proven to be sound with old injuries that more than likely will never bother them.

                                      Allie, director of CANTER MA, had the idea of writing the blogs. She wanted to show the good, bad and ugly side of the transiting from track to a new career. I will tell you that I have been shocked at how people responded and in some ways it has allowed us to sell more horses than we ever had before. Horses were not selling sitting in the fields but when we started putting 30-90 days on them and writing about our experiences with them people felt as though they got to see the horse. We post pictures from arrival from the track, ugly letdown pictures and the rebuilding pictures and video. It's real and uncensored.

                                      I find that people have begun to trust our opinions and if they call asking for a dead quiet honest ammy horse I can say go read about so and so on the blog. Sometimes it back fires when people read about some ups and downs but that is horses and part of what goes into the whole retraining process. Some horses are just so darn easy anybody could succeed and others need a structured program with someone who will always be one step ahead of them.

                                      The other issue to me is pricing. Bornfree is my kind of buyer However, most people are looking for that perfect big pretty tb gelding who is sound and sane and getting mad when they can't find them for under $3500. I know we take the time to let them down, start a worming program, farrier work, dentist, chiro and anything else that is needed. We have done all the lunging, ground work, first off the farm trips, first trail rides and we know who that horse is going to work for. I like to think I'm not barn blind and instead quite sure about what I have and I know how to represent the horse and which people to market the horse towards. That saves people the frustration of wasting time looking at horses that don't fit them. I always think it's worth the extra money but maybe I'm barn blind on that

                                      I participated in Steuart's retraining symposium and I thought it was a lot of fun but I wonder what people get out of it? Same as your idea for these clinics. Do people want to be open minded? I read this boards and get very frustrated by some of the close minded opinions about Tb's. That they all have injuries, that older horses who ran a lot can't be sound, they are too hot for an average rider and things along that line. I think those who like Tb's already know what they are looking for and where to look. Am I wrong? Sure sign I'm becoming too cynical isn't it?
                                      Last edited by Jleegriffith; Jan. 11, 2011, 06:39 AM.


                                      • #20
                                        Jlee--Great post. I learned so much from just from reading it, I would think it be incredibly helpful to have someone, accompanied by appropriate horsie, say it in person. (And I'm a devoted follower of the CANTER blogs, and it absolutely does make me feel more related to both the horse and the person who's bringing it along, so there's probably a theme here--people who are interested in retraining are interested in the process.)

                                        I really do think there are a lot of folks out there who could benefit from this, all of us aspiring OTTB owners who know they're never going to have your eye, or judy's or bfne's, and who will always be looking to the retrainer for input and advice, but who are well past the basics and know a decent amount about OTTBs. Personally, I'd be thrilled to pay something to hear what you guys have learned over the years.