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*Update pg 2* Fresh off the track - what to look for?

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  • *Update pg 2* Fresh off the track - what to look for?

    I'm checking out an OTTB tomorrow.. 4 years old, 16 starts, and his last race was last night. I actually have a good deal of information on him since he is bred and owned by a friend's family; no mystery gaps, no history of unsoundness or injuries, and generally deemed a good egg by the trainers. He simply does not want to be a racehorse.

    He's coming from the track to a farm tomorrow morning and I will look at him there. Those of you who look at the still-on-the-track and freshly-off-the-track horses...what do you want to see in a sport horse prospect?
    Last edited by Duckz; Apr. 22, 2013, 11:14 AM.
    The big guy: Lincoln

    Southern Maryland Equestrian

  • #2
    Good conformation and a better mind!!! The fact that he just raced should be a good indication of how he will behave as a riding horse. He should not be acting the fool...racing is just a job, not an excuse to be an idiot. I like a soft, calm eye and a quiet demeanor. Looks and movement must be considered AFTER you judge his brain!! For soundness...make sure they haven't given him pain meds after his race. JMO!!
    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


    • #3
      I look for good conformation as well. Conformation, "soundness" and clean legs are my primary concern. I do not worry so much about mind or attitude - some horses just are not cut for the track, and the life is hard on them. Their mind comes later, when they're completely mature (: I also look for a good eye, as corny as that sounds I've never disliked a horse I thought had a kind eye - and it's usually because they have yet to let me down.

      As for a horse that just ran, stiffness is to be expected - but I look for evenness of the gait, obviously no soundness issues, even muscling across the back, and clean legs. Hooves on the track have a reputation of being horrible, so I look for good/decent angles and the possibility for improvement. Keep us updated, pics??
      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


      • #4
        COTH hiccup
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


        • #5
          Good luck!

          And let me know if you get something and want your old dressage saddle back... I just had one made.
          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the input! I'll take tons of pictures and videos and will report back. At a minimum we'll see him walk and trot in hand. He's arriving at the farm from the track 30 minutes before me, so that could be interesting

            netg - I'll keep that in mind, thanks!
            The big guy: Lincoln

            Southern Maryland Equestrian


            • #7
              While I think conformation is import to me the brain is even more important especially for ammy riders. You can do some fairly simple things just to give you an idea of how he processes new information. I will just put them on a lunge line and see if they can pick it up fairly quickly. Do they fight it. Do they panic. Do they try to work with me. I also will walk them over some jumps. Do they see a pole and run backwards with eyes bugged out or do they just walk over like it is no big deal. I will walk them over some flowers and stuff like that just in hand to see how they react. Even better if you can just ask them to jump a little something off the lunge line to give you an idea of how they use their body.

              I personally think you get a bit of a false picture seeing a horse just chased around free because they often don't move like that under tack. The lunge line with some side reins or vienna reins gives me a better picture of how they use their parts.

              For example, this was a 3yr just off the track in his first or second session where I made this video just to evalute him via lunging and jumping off the lunge line. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jivVpVrrRss

              I could control his speed and tempo to the jump to see how he used his parts instead of him just flying around a free jump chute. I liked what I saw and people went nuts over him. You can see how I used the barrel in between the jump. That is something I do to evalute braveness in a potential event horse. Do they see the "evil barrel" and run the other way, do they want to walk up and sniff or do they just jump the heck out of it. This one came around and didn't even take a glance. Just jumped it with some extra scope.

              He sold off this video and one ride. People couldn't get there to see him fast enough.

              I try to buy something that I think uses their body well even if the conformation isn't perfect. I prefer them to be uphill, light on their feet and have three good gaits although with Tb's you know you can improve upon the gaits because they generally are very tight coming off the track. Good feet, clean legs and no vices is also very important.


              • #8
                Originally posted by crosscreeksh View Post
                Good conformation and a better mind!!! The fact that he just raced should be a good indication of how he will behave as a riding horse. He should not be acting the fool...racing is just a job, not an excuse to be an idiot. I like a soft, calm eye and a quiet demeanor. Looks and movement must be considered AFTER you judge his brain!! For soundness...make sure they haven't given him pain meds after his race. JMO!!
                Actually a horse on the track is going to have a completely different brain than one off the track with time off. You have to remember that a racing horse is kept in a stall 23 hours a day, very rarely allowed any freedom or turnout, never allowed to interact with other horses, rarely able to form bonds with people since they have many people working with them. They are feed so much high energy grain they often can't finish it all and are incredibly fit. While I would certainly give high consideration to a horse who showed he had a good mind while at the track, I certainly wouldn't discount one because he was acting a little goofy. Racehorses are also rarely taught manners, they are allowed to get away with a lot to keep their confidence up. It wouldn't be unusual to see a horse acting antsy out of his stall, or even a little pissy since ulcers are so common or they might be used to rough handling. They really can make a total turnaround with some time off and relearning to be a horse again. My last OTTB was literally the craziest, most mentally wrecked horse I've ever seen while he was on the track, and even for a while off it. Just a year later I sold him to an amateur rider because he was so totally relaxed and calm. So don't think you've gotten the demon spawn from hell because they act a little riled up after their track life. Also a little overall body soreness isn't unusual.

                There are going to be a lot of things he doesn't know since many things are done differently on the track. Be patient, treat him like he doesn't know anything when introducing new things (like tying or tacking). Go slowly and see how he reacts to each thing. You have to remember that things you think are very simple and that he should know, might be totally foreign to him. Racehorses are tied differently and tacked differently than your average horse. He might be a little aloof at first and take awhile to bond, so spend some time getting to know him. Best of luck!!


                • #9
                  What do I look for? The biggest pasture I can find to turn them out, and go back three months later.

                  But seriously what matters is this:

                  1. If you are comfortable around the horse
                  2. Does he jog up the pavement sound
                  3. If he loads well and handles change well
                  4. If he looks like something I can't wait to get on (but will).



                  • Original Poster

                    Ok, here's the update. This is one chill animal. He arrived from the track 20 minutes before I got to the farm. He walked out of his stall alert but calm, let me pick his feet up, run my hands down his legs, etc. When we took him outside to trot on pavement and grass, it took some clucking and encouragement to get him moving forward. Horses started running around in the field next to us and he was completely unfazed. All of this with no chain and a loop in the lead rope.

                    What strikes me about this guy is that he's attractive and has a very laid back attitude. What concerns me is that he seems quite tight and possibly a little sore, but I'm not experienced enough to know what's normal. He raced about 36 hours prior and hasn't had any turnout yet. He's going to get introduced to turnout over the next couple days so hopefully will have a chance to loosen up.

                    Here are some clips: http://youtu.be/7ynFeJJNekc

                    I'm pretty sure they'll let me take him over to Dr. Allen's for a pre-purchase (he's in that general area). I wouldn't schedule the pre-purchase until next Friday at the earliest. He had some x-rays done a few weeks ago to rule out any physical reason why he didn't want to be a race horse and they came back clean - I believe they looked at front ankles and knees. The last two races he came out of the gate dead last and made a late bid to end up second. My boyfriend hypothesizes that he fell asleep in the gate and didn't realize it was a race until the back stretch


                    ETA: while the farm is a good 2+ hours away from me, I'm thinking about heading out late next week to take another look before I schedule a vetting. It will be interesting to see him move at liberty, and see if he loosens up after a few days of turnout.
                    The big guy: Lincoln

                    Southern Maryland Equestrian


                    • #11
                      I wouldn't look at one until 2-3 days after they race.
                      This way any bute (or any pre-race medications in their system will have cleared out. Also...looking at them the day after they race you may have a drawn up, tired horse that doesn't show you much.
                      I look at conformation.....their bone structure....you have to look through what their muscling is right now and imagine them with a totally different topline. I like to see matching parts and overall balance with clean legs.
                      Next watch them walk and jog over pavement. Look and LISTEN for unevenness in the gaits. I ignore the actual type of mover because that will change...and usually for the better once they have turn out and new shoes. Pay attention to how they respect their handlers. Even if they get silly and jump around....do they respect the human's space? Are they paying attention or dragging that person towards a dangerous situation? A horse that bucks and prances at the end of the lead may be dead quiet once it has had turn out. You never know until you get them home.
                      Lastly, I go over them with my hands. Take note of warmth in joints, flex ankle and knees and look for good range of motion and any sore reactions to flexing. I touch them all over and see how they react.

                      That's how I go about buying on/off the track. I personally do love watching them turned loose in an arena. Because if they can move free and fancy now...without a proper topline and training, then they will move better once they have that training and muscle. You can also see how free their shoulder and elbow is....which can be a good inductor of how tidy they will be over fences.
                      RIP Spider Murphy 4/20/02 - 10/31/10


                      • Original Poster

                        jenarby - thanks, forgot to mention, I did run my hands down all legs and didn't catch any heat or swelling. He did have a mild scrape on the inside of his front left and what looked like a little mark right above his hind left hoof possibly from interference.
                        The big guy: Lincoln

                        Southern Maryland Equestrian


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Duckz View Post
                          jenarby - thanks, forgot to mention, I did run my hands down all legs and didn't catch any heat or swelling. He did have a mild scrape on the inside of his front left and what looked like a little mark right above his hind left hoof possibly from interference.

                          His rear end hurts....At first watching him on the pavement I would have thought it was his front feet....but once he was on the grass on uneven terrain I saw stifles. If you vet him....have that checked.....but in all honesty he doesn't look like a horse I would pass on. I'd turn him out. That's the best thing you can do for that.
                          BTW....what's going on with his heels? I can't tell on the video.....are his feet packed or something? Not that it's a big deal but I saw something on the heels of all four feet and it is hard to make out.

                          Just as an fyi.....a lot of times when horses won't come out of the gate....or they break slowly....its a rear end issue.
                          RIP Spider Murphy 4/20/02 - 10/31/10


                          • #14
                            He's moving short/tight, but I don't think that's suprising. Basically I agree with every thing that's already been said. I didn't watch the whole thing, but did you trot him in a circle on the pavement--that can cause things to show up that don't on the line. He's cute and if he were mine I would give him some let down time.

                            For a PPE, I would want to have my vet see the x-rays you mention ahead of time and would take hocks and stifles for sure, (normally I also do front feet as a matter of course, but it sounds like you have those views) and whatever else the vet suggests. I do hocks and front feet on any horse if I am thinking resale, then stifles and ankles, etc. if something suggests them, just because I know a purchaser will later on, and I'd rather not be suprised.

                            It's different if you know you will never sell the animal. YMMV.
                            DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                            • #15
                              I like him! Yes, seems to have a good brain just based on watching him do the basic jogs. I like his general conformation. Nice size bone. Looks to have good feet with decent angles. Nice eye and pretty head.

                              Pretty darn body sore and funky behind. I don't get crazy alarmed over that. Betting he will not flex out sound but I am not sure if that would alarm me at this point. Looks like stifles or just general race horse hind end weakness.

                              I like this guy. He seems like one that I would buy. Good luck!


                              • #16
                                I like him too. Looks like he has nice big feet with heels. Nice over all balance. You said he has 16 starts right? In that case the longish cannon doesn't bother me. He is also VERY level headed.

                                He does look body sore, short all over, and he looked like he was putting his left front down quickly. None of which bothers me if your going to have a vet look at him before you buy.

                                Good luck with him Keep us posted!
                                Unrepentant carb eater


                                • #17
                                  I like him as well. He looks typical for a horse who just raced. Sore etc. Most of that will go away with some green time and some body work.

                                  But a good mind is a good mind. He doesn't strike me as a horse who is going to be a drop dead fabulous mover...but given how he is built and how he is moving now, he is certainly not going to be a bad mover. There looks like some good raw material to work with.

                                  If you do vet him, needs to be someone used to race horses and ones that just raced.
                                  ** 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

                                    Y'all are great enablers Thanks for the insight! I'm asking the owner if we can let him hang out on the farm for a couple weeks before I get him vetted. With those looks and that personality I don't see how I can go wrong. The plan is to keep him, but of course it's a gamble and he may end up being a re-sale if he decides eventing isn't his thing. Which is ok too, the price is certainly right.
                                    The big guy: Lincoln

                                    Southern Maryland Equestrian


                                    • Original Poster

                                      So, I talked them into letting the horse hang out in a field for a couple weeks before I move forward. Should my next step be to schedule a vetting in two weeks and hope for the best? Or should I try to get out next weekend and see of he looks any better? I'm not sure if I should expect to see improvement in just a week.
                                      The big guy: Lincoln

                                      Southern Maryland Equestrian


                                      • #20
                                        Good luck...he looks like he has lots of potential!!
                                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma