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care and feeding of my OTTB

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  • care and feeding of my OTTB

    After having to put down my mare last week, I am thrilled to announce I am bringing in a nine-year-old Thoroughbred gelding tomorrow. While this is not my first horse, he is my first Thoroughbred. I would like a bit of COTH's wealth of information to make sure I haven't left anything out.

    He was bought off the track by a young college student. (His last race was a year ago.) She has done a lovely job letting him down from the track and transforming him into a great riding horse. He is sweet, has fantastic ground manners, and adapts well to his rider. (He was much more forward with her than with anyone in my family. I think that's a good thing!) His owner works full-time in addition to school, so he has lost muscle tone from not being ridden much. I think he and I can both benefit from walk/trot work for a while until he is in better shape.

    The boy could also use some groceries. I still need to get details of how/what they have been feeding (12% sweet?), but would like some advice on how to best transition him to the new barn and how to get his weight up. My plan is to stall him at night (with slow feed hay nets stuffed full), feed in the morning, then for the first week or so, turn him out in a small paddock to graze all day. (The property also has hay fields that I can turn him out on, but would like to make sure I can catch him before turning him out of 20 acres of lush fields.) Then feed again at night and refill hay nets.

    Should I ask for a bag of their feed to transition him over to TC Senior (as recommended by COTHers)? Or start with low amounts of TC and build up to full amount? Graze all day or a few hours at a time? When let out on the hay field, graze all day or just for a few hours at a time?

    He is also a cribber and shows classic signs of ulcers. I am planning on starting him on blue pop rocks as soon as he settles in. He is barefoot with poor looking feet. I already have my farrier scheduled for next week to determine a course of action for that. I'm thinking on starting him on SmartHoof.

    I have already discussed deworming with JB.

    Am I missing anything? Why am I so nervous?

  • #2
    Those are all good questions but in my opinion they are horse related questions, not OTTB related questions so if it helps you to relax a little bit, let the OTTB part go. He is a horse, you sound like you have more than a little knowledge about horse care. As far as how much grazing time to give him, that depends upon what he is used to already. If he has had no grass I would start with a very short time, maybe 30 minutes this time of year. I personally would just switch him straight over to the TC but it is never a bad idea to transition. Relax! You will do fine.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • Original Poster

      Thank you. I think recently losing my mare (albeit to a broken leg) has made me over think everything these days. I would just lose it if he were to, I don't know, colic or founder because I put him out on too much lush grass.

      He is currently turned out during the day, but their paddock looks overgrazed in comparison to the 20 acres of hay field he'd have basically to himself.


      • #4
        If by himself you literally mean by himself that could be a problem. Some horses do ok alone but most need to at least be able to see another horse or they get frantic. As far as the grass goes you are definitely better off erring on the side of caution and allowing him very short periods of time as he adapts.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home


        • Original Poster

          He will have other horses in the small paddock. If all goes well, I will ask if he can have a buddy in the large area as well.


          • #6
            Congratulations!!!!!! I am so happy for you. I am the proud owner of a 9 year old OTTB gelding, who is also a cribber!

            I took my boy right off the backstretch myself. It's nice that yours has had some down time.

            I agree with you about the pop rocks. When you get them, I would do a months treatment right away (probably 3 a day) and then as prevention. Also, I had my boy on UGUARD pellets as a supplement which definitely seemed to help buffer his stomach and promote better eating. For weight gain, I recall using FATCAT for quite a while in addition to a good grain/hay/forage regimine.

            Do you plan to have him wear a cribbing collar?
            "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
            as a thoroughbred horse."

            -JOHN GALSWORTHY


            • #7
              As Laurierace says. OTTBs are horses, first and foremost. Some are lazy, some are not, some are calm, some are not. Some jump, others couldn't care to pick up their feet.

              That's the challenge in them, figuring out what they do best.
              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.


              • #8
                I would get his teeth checked, then check a fecal and deworm accordingly....TC Senior is a great feed...if you find in time after teeth,deworming, and the new feed, grass pastures etc and settling into his new home- you could always add extra calories but chances are once all the main things are straightened out he will probabaly pick up weight just fine...but it takes time....at least 3-6 months..and I can't stress enough.,,hay hay and more hay-the best quality you can get....Alfalfa does wonders!!!don't be afraid of it...I have 5 OTTB's that all get straight ALFALFA ...and they are all FAT shiney and GORGEOUS...in fact nobody believes me that they're TB's!!!...and they are all QUIET....it's not only great for adding calories, but it helps with ulcers as well

                After you treat with pop rocks...a good ulcer maintenance supplement such as Smart Gut Pellets, Uckele's GUT powder, Succeed, or Finish Lines U7 Gastric Aid are my top choices...aloe Vera juice is great too...and if your ulcer supp doesn't contain a probiotic...that's a good idea..Fastrack or Probios are great for aiding digestion and weight gain

                I feed all of my Tb's Progressive Nutrition's Pro Elite HF extruded feed...it's the most calorie dense digestible feed on the market...

                http://www.prognutrition.com/proelitehf.html often times you can feed 30-40% less than say TC Senior or Purina Ultium b/c it's extruded and therefore more digestible


                • #9
                  All of this makes me feel as though I've been mistreating my horses all these years.

                  We got them off the track, turned them out for a few weeks on grass, then started riding them. We fed them a diet of timothy/alfalfa, heavier on the timothy and (mercy!!!) sweet feed and corn. I'll admit we did deworm, check teeth (invariably unnecessarily), and do feet. Darned if some of them didn't event to the 3 Day level, (old format), and at least one some upper level dressage.

                  No gastrogard! No supplements!

                  Enjoy your horses.
                  Last edited by merrygoround; Apr. 13, 2012, 10:04 PM. Reason: Grammar!
                  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.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks SaratogaTB! I've never had a horse that cribs. And he does come with a collar. I'm hoping treating him for ulcers and lots of turn out will help.

                    merry, I, too, have been guilty of "mistreating" my past horses. This is a classic case of "the more I learn, the more guilty I feel".

                    I went by Tractor Supply on my home to get him new buckets. I also found a $32 manure fork on clearance for $9.99. Who knew a manure fork could make me so giddy!


                    • #11
                      [Quote-janiemerle]merry, I, too, have been guilty of "mistreating" my past horses. This is a classic case of"the more I learn, the more guilty I feel"[Quote]

                      I do hope you recognized a "tongue in cheek" statement.
                      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.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                        [Quote-janiemerle]I do hope you recognized a "tongue in cheek" statement.
                        Most definitely. Hence the quotes.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by janiemerle View Post
                          Thanks SaratogaTB! I've never had a horse that cribs. And he does come with a collar. I'm hoping treating him for ulcers and lots of turn out will help.

                          merry, I, too, have been guilty of "mistreating" my past horses. This is a classic case of "the more I learn, the more guilty I feel".

                          I went by Tractor Supply on my home to get him new buckets. I also found a $32 manure fork on clearance for $9.99. Who knew a manure fork could make me so giddy!
                          WELL PUT and GREAT BUY!


                          • Original Poster

                            A little update on the boy...

                            He stepped off the trailer without batting an eye, walked to his new stall and began munching on hay. I didn't bother with transitioning feed, and just went straight on with TC Senior. (He practically licks his bucket clean.) I put him in the smaller turnout for the first two days to meet the herd over the fence. Nary a peep out of anyone, so I tossed him in the big, lush, rolling pasture on the third day. He acted like he had done it every day of his life. Since I see him every day I couldn't really tell, but my husband saw him today and said he already looks "less ribby".

                            I've already ridden him several times. The first few rides were in the round pen, but today I rode him in the arena. He has been a perfect gentleman every time. I loff this boy!