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Draft cross or ottb?

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  • Draft cross or ottb?

    My mare sold (yay!) and my only horse now is a weanling. While I wait for him to grow up I would like to buy a cheaper project to bring along. It's been a while since I threw my helmet in the eventing ring, but I found a jumping trainer that I really like and I think this would be a good way to utilize my dressage chops. So, my question is, what do I buy?
    I've got a $4K MAX budget. Half that would be better and under a grand would be grand! I rode a lot of draft crosses at an eventing/pony club barn I worked at 15 years ago, are they still viable in the eventing world? It's been a warmblood party since then, but they're not in the budget now. I've never worked with track horses specifically, but I'm confident in my ability to figure out and bring along a young horse. I'm not trying to get rich with this project, but it would be nice to be able to recoup some of my costs of having a horse for the next year or two. I'd probably sell when we were going novice consistently, because I'm not really interested in going x-c any bigger than that. Which type is more likely to fetch a good price at that level?

  • #2
    Get the OTTB, I'm literally jumping up and down saying this! I LOVE my OTTB and LOVED my OTTB before that. Clearly I am biased . I got my current project OTTB for $600 so it is definitely possible to find one in a cheap price range. Then 2 weeks later stepped on a nail and her vet bill was over triple her original price. As I'm sure you know, the initial price isn't the expensive part.

    So I live in California where everything is incredibly expensive and my opinion may be a bit biased. I noticed you said it'd be nice to recoup some of your costs. Do you board or do you have your own facility? Are you a trainer or will you be working with a trainer? There will be money going in to show fees and cross country schools. Routine vet bills, routine vet, farrier (both my OTTBs have had crap feet and have always had to have a full set of shoes), the inevitable "random" injury that may set you back 2 weeks or 6 months ...... all of these costs add up. If you get an OTTB right off the track there are risks, especially with respect to temperament. What if the horse doesn't like to jump? Is the horse going to be going solidly novice with the potential to move up to training and higher? Or is novice where it's safely maxed out.....is s/he going to be ammy friendly? Can they pack a kid or adult around a BN course?? All these factors will affect the price of the horse, at least where I live. If you are VERY lucky, maybe you'll end up breaking even .

    That's just my 2 cents, but I really hope you get a project OTTB and post a bunch of pictures and updates!!!!
    I just started a blog!
    Another Adult Amature and her OTTB: https://eventingottb.wordpress.com


    • Original Poster

      Thanks Rnichols!
      Yeah, I'm hoping to save money on the purchase price because I KNOW horses like to spend it on other things. I live in New Mexico, so keeping a horse is pretty expensive here too.
      I'm a recovering trainer that got a day job and have been a happy amateur for the last 8 years. I'm comfortable doing my own training but take an odd lesson because everyone needs eyes on the ground. I also hadn't jumped in about 10 years until last week, but it went great! I'm hoping to be in my own farm soon (sold the mare for down payment), and won't be buying any projects until then.
      TB's have a reputation for shelly feet and needing a ton of grain to stay in condition, which has me leaning toward the draft cross, but there you have OCD lesions and really early sidebone as potential issues. But with small grass square bales going for $12, that easy keeper is looking pretty good. I like the higher potential for athleticism with a TB. A lot of the draft crosses that look nice as 4 year old's turn into tanks by 6 and can't really move up.
      I mention selling when they're consistent at novice because I really don't care to do the x-c any higher than that. Most any fit horse can jump around 2'11" safely, and the winners finish on their dressage scores, which is my forte! I would love a horse to continue on up the levels, but not with me. And getting a horse from novice to training might take as long as it takes to get from green to novice. Not sure I want all of my egg$ in one horse basket.
      You're totally right that the horse might not want to go in the direction I intend, but I'm flexible. I really believe that all of the traditional Olympic disciplines are the same game until you hit the upper levels. Any well schooled equine athlete should be able to do half pass and a balanced flying change and jump 3'6". BUT, if it wants to be a barrel horse then we'll learn the pattern! Lower level eventing seems to be the most logical way to say, "Look, this horse can do things!" And jumping is fun.


      • #4
        It is very hard to recoup your money on a multi-year project horse because you spend so much keeping them that long. And honestly, the value of a novice horse is probably not going to be enough to recoup a couple of years of costs. I wouldn’t go into this expecting to make any money.

        That said, for under $4k you’ll be hard pressed to find a quality draft cross (at least in the areas I am familiar with, YMMV) so your best bet is likely to go with an OTTB.

        Is there anyone in your area with experience with OTTBs? Not every jumping trainer will work well with them so consider if the first trainer doesn’t work out, will you have any other local options? Does this jumping trainer have any eventing experience?

        Not every OTTB is a hard keeper and not every OTTB has bad feet. Not every draft x is an easy keeper and not every draft x has good feet. Your best bet is to keep your options open from a breed standpoint and see what you can find in your budget. If you don’t have experience with OTTBs right off the track or much eventing experience you may want to consider going through a reseller or finding someone with an experienced eye to help you look.


        • Original Poster

          You're right, keeping a horse for two years would be pretty impossible to recoup basic upkeep from. I can't imagine it would take that long to get a horse going novice well enough to sell, so I would hope to move them on as quickly as the individual allows. There are quite a few trainers in the area with eventing experience, but is that really necessary to go novice? I did PonyClub as a kid and evented through training, and all of the questions asked cross country were still pretty basic, but I prefer my jumps to fall down if I hit them at this point in my life. Perhaps things have changed though, maybe I'll borrow a horse and go to a competition before I start shopping.
          I realize every horse will have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, But it seems to be a lot harder to sell a saddlebred as a sport horse than a draftX or TB, or at least it USED to be. That's part of my question. So I guess draft crosses are still a viable class of event horse? I've just been reading so much press about OTTB's that I thought maybe they'd fallen out of favor. There's a big draft horse auction in Colorado in the spring. I thought I might go up there and look. The CANTER horses in my area aren't the best looking group,but maybe there are other places to find track horses? I did see a couple of pretty cute mares at the horse pound here in ABQ. Wasn't looking for a mare, but adopting a stray horse has its appeal! Who ever heard of a stray horse? Talk about being open minded to breed!


          • #6
            From the other side of the world, what strikes me is that when you sell this horse on it will be performance record not breed papers that count. In eventing it is heart and character that makes a good horse. At the lower levels, as you say, any breed can be sucessful. So look for the horse you like, the one that you click with. You have the skill to train it to perform better but the horse might come to tell you it prefers dressage to XC. At least with eventing as a basis it has the oportunity to choose. As so many racing QH are close on full TB that might be another place to look for a cheap prospect in NM
            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


            • #7
              You may have an easier time selling the draft cross--they are very popular around here for the ammies, and crossover well into the fox hunting market. However as mentioned you can get more bang for your buck with an OTTB. The nice green draft x's around here are usually above your budget (although you can get lucky).

              Also, be careful buying one at auction. I'm not sure how easy it would be to assess their temperament. My draft x is way way more sensitive and reactive that any tb I've ever had. And my 1/4 draft is a PIA .


              • #8
                I agree - don't limit yourself to only OTTBs or draft crosses. Just keep an eye out for all the cheap prospects, and buy the one you like the best regardless of breed.


                • #9
                  I have both and there are pros and cons to both. Of course there are a tremendous amount of cheap TBs to be had but what I find is that track life is very hard on them and most have baggage be it mentally or physically or both, and as you mentioned the weight and farrier issues are real. I am currently rehabbing a OTTB from a mild bow from racing, which is no big deal and she fortunately has great feet. She's a good eater but at only 3 and 16+hds, she is still very lean and likely will be for a while yet. She hates being stalled and frets if stalled. Hopefully time, further let down and patience will ease her mind. I keep her pastured unless the weather is just crap.

                  I have three ASB x Draft crosses; two percheron and one Clyde/Hackney/TB; but all by the same ASB stallion. I find the ASB as the blood on top, less tricky than with TB but it's an unorthodox if very handsome, cross. They are wonderful, steady, dependable horses. Harder to keep fit and forward but easy keepers both as to weight and farrier care - mine have never worn shoes. They are very popular with Amateurs and Foxhunters and though I bought mine reasonably, wouldn't consider selling even the least trained cheaply. Their temperaments are superb!

                  However, being picky and looking carefully, you can pick up a likely youngster ready to be started within your budget.
                  Last edited by FatCatFarm; Dec. 9, 2017, 09:46 AM.
                  Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
                  Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you all for your responses. What I'm getting from this is that while TB's might be cheaper to buy, the draft crosses still have a strong following in the amateur market, and potential to bring a better price with the same training. Does that sound about right?
                    What I've seen work when buying from the auction is to buy two, get to know them for two weeks, sell one right away and keep the one you want to work with. Gives you time to really see who they are, clip legs, and get them shiny. You don't need to make anything on the first sale, but you can usually make up the auction price and any other expenses up to that point, unless you went crazy getting a bunch of feet/teeth/chiro done. Save that for the one you keep.
                    My concern with the TB's is their having gotten dinged up at the track. Not to say that a draft cross from an auction couldn't be a lameness time-bomb! Is there a strong market for retrained race horses?
                    FatCatFarm, I would love to find a Georgian Grande (that's what they call them, right?), but I hadn't seen any go through the old draft horse auction I went to in Iowa. Maybe Colorado will be different! I had ASB's for my event/pony club horses as a kid, and I love that do anything mind.


                    • #11
                      I'd look for both. And look at quarter horse crosses too. You never know when a good deal will come along, especially this time of year. People are more willing to deal with winter being here.


                      • #12
                        Since you're in NM, how about a nice quarter horse? As said before, in eventing, it is much more about the record and rideability for a low level eventer. I ride a lovely quarter horse that can clean up in dressage and is a safe jumper. Just make sure you do a good PPE on the quarter horses!


                        • Original Poster

                          hldyrhrses I'm definitely keeping an open mind and an eye on craigslist. My only issue with quarter horses is that so many of them seem to be tiny. Perhaps eventing riders have a more elevated way of thinking, but in the dressage world or in hunterland if it's under 16.2hh, it better measure a pony. Of course, like Willesdon was saying, there are tons of very bloody QH's on the track. If I could find one of those from a private owner I could get a good vet check. That'd be a big benefit over the auction route.
                          Speaking of ponies... This girl is at the stray horse shelter in ABQ. I think she's a super cute little Iberian looking thing. Sport pony anybody? I've made a few hunter ponies as projects, is there an event pony market? She looks fun! Pick her apart for me! Here's the link https://thehorseshelter.org/horses/juniper/


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jonem004 View Post
                            Speaking of ponies... This girl is at the stray horse shelter in ABQ. I think she's a super cute little Iberian looking thing. Sport pony anybody? I've made a few hunter ponies as projects, is there an event pony market? She looks fun! Pick her apart for me! Here's the link https://thehorseshelter.org/horses/juniper/
                            She's cute, but sounds like a very big project - hot, spooky, and "needs a job" might make her a hard sell. I think many, if not most, of the buyers shopping for a large pony or small horse are looking for something closer to a packer temperament.

                            Really, though, this portion of the adoption contract would probably be a HUGE detractor for any potential buyer you may find:

                            "If the Adopter decides to sell, lease, or give the horse to another party, Adopter must notify THS in writing prior to any such transfer, and the new Adopter/owner must enter into an Adoption Contract and Adoption Requirements and Regulations agreement with THS to ensure that the horse continues to be cared for consistent with THS’s standards and that THS may repossess the horse should such standards not be met. "


                            • #15
                              After owning several OTTB's, I decided that I would go the draft cross route when selecting my current horse - a Belgian/Dutch Harness Cross. Driving this decision was the desire for something more "substantial" (I'm 5'11" and I like a big horse), foxhunting more than eventing and wanting something more durable, and wanting something generally quieter.

                              I will say that my horse is much easier than any TB I've owned. He's sounder, has a better temperament most of the time, and seems to be impervious to many of the annoying afflictions and situations that affect TB's. For example, he has great skin and almost never has any sort of rain rot, hives, etc. It seems that every TB I've had was plagued with skin issues. He's also a dream to clip requiring no sedation. I can run my noisy Lister Star clippers on his ears and he does not care.

                              Now, he's most definitely not an air fern like many draft crosses. He actually eats more than I thought and requires alfalfa and an uptick in grain during hunt season. He's not too hard to get fit and has a great gallop. Ironically, he couldn't canter at all when I first got him 2 years ago. The OTTB's have the advantage there.

                              When he's fit like he is now, he has energy for days. We hunted for 3-4 hours two days in a row last weekend in some hilly country and I never found the bottom. He can also get hot and excited when we're hunting. However, when I event him (BN/Novice) he's a nice kick ride on XC but still hunts down the fences. He never stops at a jump and is fairly unemotional about ditches, banks, or any of it. He has beautiful movement thanks to the DHH and consistently scores in the mid-lower 20's in dressage, and it keeps getting better.

                              He is a BIG horse. He stands 17.3HH and measures 88" with size 6 shoes and bit. However, he's quite streamlined and at 7.5 years old, I don't think he's going to become a whiskey barrel couch of a horse anytime. My medium tree saddles fit fine.

                              So, I guess it really just depends on the horse!


                              • #16
                                I'm in the midwestern US and for the past couple of years have been buying/training/selling the occasional pony as a hobby. So far I've only had serious interest from or sales to hunter/jumpers, foxhunters or Pony Club type families. Of course some of this has to do with the types of training and experience my ponies get (trail riding, fox hunting - I whip in off any pony that is ready to do so during hunt season, lessons with my eventing trainer, dressage/hunter schooling shows, XC schooling) but at least around me there has not been much interest from eventers.

                                I've actually been surprised to have so much interest from h/j people because I feel like the experience my ponies get with me actually would set them up better for life as an eventer in the future.

                                Will you have access to a good child/junior rider to event it for you? The event ponies I see selling in my region are ones that have been campaigned successfully by children at recognized events. Because the h/j programs tend to involve more training rides and structure, I think those people may be more willing to take a chance on a pony who is going well and looks to be the right type even if it doesn't have many miles with children. I do try to get kids to ride my ponies in schooling shows and such but don't have the budget to send them to recognized shows and I recognize there is a definite ceiling on the price I can ask for them because of this (which is ok with me).

                                I think the Juniper pony is very cute and if I were looking for a pony for myself would probably be interested in checking her out. But she doesn't look like a hunter pony to me and I've really started to consciously try and select types that I think could make at least local level hunters because that is where my pony market seems to be.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by jonem004 View Post
                                  hldyrhrses I'm definitely keeping an open mind and an eye on craigslist. My only issue with quarter horses is that so many of them seem to be tiny. Perhaps eventing riders have a more elevated way of thinking, but in the dressage world or in hunterland if it's under 16.2hh, it better measure a pony. Of course, like Willesdon was saying, there are tons of very bloody QH's on the track. If I could find one of those from a private owner I could get a good vet check. That'd be a big benefit over the auction route.
                                  Speaking of ponies... This girl is at the stray horse shelter in ABQ. I think she's a super cute little Iberian looking thing. Sport pony anybody? I've made a few hunter ponies as projects, is there an event pony market? She looks fun! Pick her apart for me! Here's the link https://thehorseshelter.org/horses/juniper/
                                  She's very cute and absolutely the opposite of what you should look for if you want to make money reselling. At Novice to be worth much it needs to be either an UL prospect (sound, brave, young, pretty, FANCY mover and jumper with a lot of blood, relatively sensible)-- and you need to be able to market it to the right people, which is hard-- or it needs to be a real packer type (sound, brave, cute, nice mover, good jumper, AMAZING TEMPERAMENT) and you need to be able to produce it properly and be prepared to put a lot of miles on it at recognized BN and Novice. For this type, if it has a good enough brain and can be competitive with an inexperienced or timid rider, it doesn't matter nearly as much about size/ color/ pedigree.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thank you all, this really helps give me an idea of the market. The pony girl probably wouldn't be a good investment, and I don't have any excuse for keeping a personal pony.


                                    • #19
                                      I would go with draft cross or heck, even a grade anything as long as it is build nice and moves well and has a good personality. People love a horse they can jump, dabble in dressage and then do a Sunday trail ride with their buddies.
                                      But if you do go resale ottb project would have the strictest process. Great build, not too small, nice mover and easy going personality. I just got a project myself and he is 17.1 and a sweetie. Reselling him down the road will be easier with a baseline like that then a challenging, opinionated, hot horse.
                                      Dark Side of the Moon
                                      2010 Thoroughbred mare


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by jonem004;n9952641
                                        FatCatFarm[/USER], I would love to find a Georgian Grande (that's what they call them, right?), but I hadn't seen any go through the old draft horse auction I went to in Iowa. Maybe Colorado will be different! I had ASB's for my event/pony club horses as a kid, and I love that do anything mind.

                                        Yes, my two buckskins are Georgian Grandes though the more popular version is ASB x Friesian but I personally don't care for that version as much for eventing and hunting, preferring the ASB x Draft, i.e. Percheron, Clyde, Belgian. You might not find one at auction. More likely you might stumble across an ad for someone advertising a youngster ready to start but not yet going under saddle, reasonably.
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