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OTTB as a first horse?

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  • OTTB as a first horse?

    So there's a girl at my barn who's been taking lessons for 5-6 months, and has improved since she came PROFUSELY. Her family (under direction of her trainer) started looking for a horse for her (they want a smart brained, not super strong, kinda chill horse). The school horses we have either are A) too small, or B) can't do what she needs, so you see the situation. They've looked at a couple horses who were a firm no, or didn't pass the PPE. Now they're looking at an OTTB mare who's 7 and has been off the track for about 3 1/2 years. The mare seems very sweet and smart, I'm just not sure it's something that would suit her. A bit of background on the girl:
    She came mid-June, with WTC knowledge but her equitation was...how do I say this...BAD. REALLY REALLY BAD. She couldn't sit the trot, or the canter, had her hands on her horse's withers, her leg was too far forward, and her reins were too long. Since she's started taking lessons she can now sit the trot and canter, her hands are always up, her reins are the correct length, she has ear/hip/heel aligned, her heels are down more, and she's jumped up to 2ft in lines, but only coursed x-rails. She can also sit a buck/bolt (our barn was at a show and the pony she was on flipped out, but somehow she stayed on). She tends to not rev horses up, she's a very calm and kind person. Thoughts? (This isn't to tell the family, I'm just curious what fellow COTHers have to say )

  • #2
    Hopefully this rider is having many insightful and very frank discussions with a trusted, ethical equine professional who can help her navigate through the process of horse purchasing/appropriate mounts.

    Beyond the rider and their trainer, it's really no one else's business.

    Although as an aside, people tend to stereotype OTTBs as hot/spicy/complicated rides. Beyond the fact that many of them have great personalities for amateur riders, a horse that's been off the track for more than three years (and presumably has been in a program/had good training in that time) is more than capable of being suitable for a wide variety of riders (personality dependent).

    Comment


    • #3
      yes

      Comment


      • #4
        I can tell you're young so I'm going to redact my previous post which was a little snarky. This sounds like none of your business and I wouldn't go nosing around. You'll embarrass yourself when you find out that many OTTBs have wonderful quiet brains and can easily be used for a rider at this stage at 3 1/2 years off the track. You sound too young/inexperienced to know this.

        The kids' trainer sounds like she's doing a good job. I'm sure she knows all the details about the horse (most likely more than you) and can decide if the horse is suitable.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CrazyChesnutPonyMare View Post
          So there's a girl at my barn who's been taking lessons for 5-6 months, and has improved since she came PROFUSELY. Her family (under direction of her trainer) started looking for a horse for her (they want a smart brained, not super strong, kinda chill horse). The school horses we have either are A) too small, or B) can't do what she needs, so you see the situation. They've looked at a couple horses who were a firm no, or didn't pass the PPE. Now they're looking at an OTTB mare who's 7 and has been off the track for about 3 1/2 years. The mare seems very sweet and smart, I'm just not sure it's something that would suit her. A bit of background on the girl:
          She came mid-June, with WTC knowledge but her equitation was...how do I say this...BAD. REALLY REALLY BAD. She couldn't sit the trot, or the canter, had her hands on her horse's withers, her leg was too far forward, and her reins were too long. Since she's started taking lessons she can now sit the trot and canter, her hands are always up, her reins are the correct length, she has ear/hip/heel aligned, her heels are down more, and she's jumped up to 2ft in lines, but only coursed x-rails. She can also sit a buck/bolt (our barn was at a show and the pony she was on flipped out, but somehow she stayed on). She tends to not rev horses up, she's a very calm and kind person. Thoughts? (This isn't to tell the family, I'm just curious what fellow COTHers have to say )
          It's an interesting question in the abstract, but unfortunately the excess details here make the OP sound young and a bit too nosy.

          Honestly the girl described sounds like a competent rider. Jump height is not necessarily correlated to general riding ability since many excellent dressage and western riders never jump but have better seats skills and training chops than any 3 foot junior in the world.

          My coach gets ottb that weren't inspired to race and turns them into lesson horses and junior rider horses with no drama. Ottb really vary in personality and the ones that wash out of racing early are often not that hot, or haven't really learned to race. If the mare has had 3 or 4 years of retraining and is currently being ridden by a junior she may be perfect.

          Indeed around here most junior horses are TB. No one is going to shell out WB prices for a teen to jump 2 foot 9 locally, and really a TB is the only other option, except maybe Appendix QH if you want a nice English horse.

          Comment


          • #6
            Aside from choosing a horse that just can't perform the task you want due to physical limitations, why would you prejudge any horse based on the breed or what it was used for 3 1/2 years ago?

            OTTBs with the right personality have a lot more training than a lot of young horses, they've been ponied, trailered, had their feet messed with, been in close quarters galloping with other horses, worked in mud and rain, been in starting gates, exposed to large crowds of people etc. If they remain sound and sane through years of that, they're typically pretty bomb-proof to anything your local hunter-jumper barn is going to subject them to.

            Unless there's something in particular about this mare's soundness or personality that raises the red flag, I'd suggest that you keep your bias to yourself because it's unfounded just based on the breed and past.

            Comment


            • #7
              I would agree that an OTTB fresh off the track is not appropriate for a junior beginner, but no unbroke horse would be. A TB already trained to do the job is fine, you just need to evaluate the personality and training of the particular horse.

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              • #8
                If she's purchasing under the direction of her trainer, then I think she'll be just fine. And if she's improved that much in only 5 months of lessons, she can only get better.
                "Horses are too spency!" - Mom

                Comment


                • #9
                  I wouldn't rule out a horse just because it is an OTTB (given that it has been off the track for awhile). She needs to check the horse out, spend time with it, ride it and see how it goes.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I wouldn't rule a horse out just because it is an OTTB. I am sure that if she has a competent trainer helping her search for the right horse, that they will pair her with a suitable mount. Other than that, its really no one else's business. Many OTTB's can make great amateur or junior mounts. And having been off the track for 3.5 years, this horse might just be a great match for her if the proper training has been done post-track experience.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      [shrug] We had some OTTBs in the lesson string when I was in college. Some were calm, quiet, and suitable for beginners. Some were more sensitive and a little hotter and were ridden by more advanced students. It just depends on the horse.
                      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                      that's even remotely true."

                      Homer Simpson

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                        I would agree that an OTTB fresh off the track is not appropriate for a junior beginner, but no unbroke horse would be. A TB already trained to do the job is fine, you just need to evaluate the personality and training of the particular horse.
                        Ahem, off the track horses ARE BROKE! Don't insult those who spend their lives doing a different discipline, please. Track horses are simply broke to do a different task. It's just like a hunter is completely unbroke to dressage.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It also makes a huge difference that this girl is under the direction of a trainer. I know a young teen rider who sounds quite similar to what you describe, who bought an OTTB (a few years off the track) a couple months ago. He is super sweet and chill. However, I was watching a lesson recently and saw him try to take advantage--rushing up the hill back to the barn instead of walking nicely. The trainer was all over it teaching the girl how to correct the behavior and nip things in the bud. My takeaway was that the combination of a decent-minded horse plus attentive trainer plus hardworking teen would work out just fine.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm on my second. My first mare was a pistol and kicked/struck out when she was mad. She was a very forward ride, ate jumps like they were breakfast and had talent for days but was an extremely difficult ride. Not for a beginner.

                            Second mare is the exact opposite. Other than being a little more excitable than my QHs and Paints, she's a pretty chill girl and you'd never guess she was raced.

                            Just like any horse, take them on a case by case basis!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RAyers View Post

                              Ahem, off the track horses ARE BROKE! Don't insult those who spend their lives doing a different discipline, please. Track horses are simply broke to do a different task. It's just like a hunter is completely unbroke to dressage.
                              Well yes and no.

                              I would feel comfortable and safe putting a beginner rider on a safe low level hunter with hopes to transition to low level dressage or the other way around.

                              But race horses don't generally come off the track well schooled as saddle horses. We have a track ten miles away and i see a lot of OTTB getting retrained. It is not a job for a beginner and they often come to grief in the process. My coach gives them a long let down and usually gets them young and lazy (not war horses) and they do turn into junior and lesson horses. But I've been on the ground with her for the first rides and the horses do not know a lot about rein or leg aids.

                              Race broke is not saddle broke just as harness broke is not saddle broke or the reverse.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Not only was my first horse, and second horse, an OTTB, but so was the first lesson horse I showed over the 2' Beginners Over Fences. :-) And we have an OTTB in the therapeutic riding program too. She's the one we use for the most fragile riders.
                                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The horse is 3.5 years OTT. I'd hardly call it an OTTB any more. Now it's just a Thoroughbred -- and yes, they can be a perfectly suitable first horse. Most of us oldsters grew up on TBs.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                                    Well yes and no.

                                    ....

                                    Race broke is not saddle broke just as harness broke is not saddle broke or the reverse.
                                    Exactly. They are simply not broke for the job you want them to do. It is not that they are unbroke (as you stated originally). They are very well broke. Every one of my eventers has been an OTTB, and even a jumper or two.

                                    Again, they are actually well trained off the leg and hand, just not for what you or your trainer want them to be. Watch the exercise riders, they work horses off the legs and hands. Spend time with the jocks and trainers and you will learn how and why they do what they do and how you can use what they taught the horse to your advantage.

                                    I agree that for a green rider with no help an OTTB may not be the best choice. But for a rider within a competent training program, there is no reason that an OTTB can not be purchased.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by RAyers View Post

                                      Exactly. They are simply not broke for the job you want them to do. It is not that they are unbroke (as you stated originally). They are very well broke. Every one of my eventers has been an OTTB, and even a jumper or two.

                                      Again, they are actually well trained off the leg and hand, just not for what you or your trainer want them to be. Watch the exercise riders, they work horses off the legs and hands. Spend time with the jocks and trainers and you will learn how and why they do what they do and how you can use what they taught the horse to your advantage.

                                      I agree that for a green rider with no help an OTTB may not be the best choice. But for a rider within a competent training program, there is no reason that an OTTB can not be purchased.
                                      I'm trying to make the distinction between a TB with 4 years good riding training and one fresh off the track.

                                      I'm guessing the OP was at some point warned off getting that wonderful free 3 year old straight off the back stretch (huge temptation for juniors and parents on a budget) and is conflating this with the idea of any TB no matter how long it's been off the track.

                                      My point was I wouldn't want to put an advanced beginner rider on any horse early in its saddle training even a very quiet QH or a pony. Even with supervision.
                                      ​​​​

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by CrazyChesnutPonyMare View Post
                                        So there's a girl at my barn who's been taking lessons for 5-6 months, and has improved since she came PROFUSELY. Her family (under direction of her trainer) started looking for a horse for her (they want a smart brained, not super strong, kinda chill horse). The school horses we have either are A) too small, or B) can't do what she needs, so you see the situation. They've looked at a couple horses who were a firm no, or didn't pass the PPE. Now they're looking at an OTTB mare who's 7 and has been off the track for about 3 1/2 years. The mare seems very sweet and smart, I'm just not sure it's something that would suit her. A bit of background on the girl:
                                        She came mid-June, with WTC knowledge but her equitation was...how do I say this...BAD. REALLY REALLY BAD. She couldn't sit the trot, or the canter, had her hands on her horse's withers, her leg was too far forward, and her reins were too long. Since she's started taking lessons she can now sit the trot and canter, her hands are always up, her reins are the correct length, she has ear/hip/heel aligned, her heels are down more, and she's jumped up to 2ft in lines, but only coursed x-rails. She can also sit a buck/bolt (our barn was at a show and the pony she was on flipped out, but somehow she stayed on). She tends to not rev horses up, she's a very calm and kind person. Thoughts? (This isn't to tell the family, I'm just curious what fellow COTHers have to say )
                                        Don’t know what it’s you are looking for anybody to say. Even if it was the most inappropriate horse in the world and she the worst rider with no trainer help, she is not on here asking for our help.

                                        You do say she is a nice and kind person, her riding is improving greatly and the 7 year old mare is quiet, sweet and has spent more then half of her working life in a job nowhere near a racetrack . Not seeing any kind of an issue requiring an opinion here, sounds like everything is going well for her. Sharing you think she was really bad, bad, bad a few months ago is meaningless and not so nice. No need to waste time and thought in how she is progressing. Other people’s horses and choices are other people’s business. Move along.
                                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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