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For all you OTTB peeps! UPDATE PHOTO PAGE 2!

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  • For all you OTTB peeps! UPDATE PHOTO PAGE 2!

    I just got an OTTB (6yrs old, raced til he was 4) and I haven't ridden an OTTB in years. Any helpful advice? I'm just longing him now, starting side reins (which he has taken to learning quite quickly). I get on him and walk, practicing halting, walking off again, understanding my hand, serpentines and that kind of stuff. I haven't graduated to trotting under saddle yet (I've only had him since Saturday lol). He's a bit excited when the other horses came in the indoor, so we just stood there and watched them flat. He relaxed when i was off him, but if i was sitting on him, he still thought that when there was a horse behind him, we were off to the races!
    Any tidbits of wisdom? Words of encouragement?
    Last edited by myalter1; Oct. 8, 2010, 11:27 AM.

  • #2
    Just remember he's trying to do what he thinks he's supposed to. He was supposed to run and outrun horses who came up behind him. Lots of patience and praise, and he'll realize he's supposed to stand there and let them go by soon enough.

    I would be cautious in the side reins because many OTTBs want to duck behind contact, and if he has that tendency it could add to it.

    Most of all, enjoy him. Realize that if he's typical he's going to try very hard to do what you want. VERY hard. My guy finally realized he's supposed to relax on trail rides, and when he got a pat and "good boy" as he was so relaxed his head was swinging and hanging down... he now tries to trail ride in peanut roller position swinging his head from side to side intentionally, thinking that must be even better than what he was doing before. They take what they learn to extremes in their efforts to please, so just be an advocate for your horse and remember he may work through problems to try to be good for you.
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


    • #3
      Yeah I wouldn't go with side reins yet. You want them to learn long and low first. Ita easier for them to evade contact and be on the muscle if they're curled up. Ottb's just take time. If you've got a smart one your patience will be greatly rewarded in the end.


      • #4
        give him time off before you start retraining, at least a couple of weeks, I would just love on him and groom him, let him know that any handling does not mean go to work.

        If he was mine I would give him the winter off, but that's me.


        • #5
          Whoa! This horse is 6, and if he had typical early handling he has been under saddle for 5 years. He has done a moderate amount of flat work . He has changes on demand (though not necessarily cued the way you would do it). This is not a horse who has only galloped NASCAR style for a long period of time. He probably needs to learn to stand for mounting.

          And stay away from the side reins. (That's a personal prejudice. I've never understood what side reins did better that even reasonably educated hands. And they can really piss a sensitive horse off)

          He has been off the track for two years. Just get on him and enjoy him, remembering to not get in his face to slow down.
          * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis


          • #6
            Like everyone else said, I'd lose the draw reins. The benefit of getting rid of them is that without them, the horse learns to balance on his own, naturally, with his neck. This is actually how those low head carriages and long toplines are properly obtained.

            "If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me


            • #7
              Originally posted by Summit Springs Farm View Post
              give him time off before you start retraining, at least a couple of weeks, I would just love on him and groom him, let him know that any handling does not mean go to work.

              If he was mine I would give him the winter off, but that's me.

              If he hasn't raced for 2 years he may have already had a decent amount of time off, unless they've kept him at the track and/or in training for those 2 years with no racing. That said, yes definitely some downtime is in order if he is fresh off the track or fresh out of training.
              "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."



              • #8
                My only real advice is to not mystify things too much. Just get on and ride like you would a "normal" horse and usually they adjust. You stay relaxed and happy in the saddle, and he'll get relaxed and happy under you.

                The only other thing I'd say is forward is your friend. If he's ever tense or nervous, moving forward and putting him to work is probably a good idea. At least, I find that works better than trying to make them stand, at first.

                Don't overcomplicate things. Stay relaxed, and reward him for doing what you want (even tiny things you usually take for granted) and he should come along fine.

                I also wouldn't do the side reins, as the main problem I run into with these guys is they like to curl behind the bit and not accept contact - I fight that enough, wouldn't want to add to it by introducing side reins to the equation.
                "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                My CANTER blog.


                • #9
                  The most important thing to do is forget about the fact that he is an ottb and not expect him to do anything that any other green horse wouldn't do.

                  If you are having an expectation for him ("doesn't know what leg is," "muscles are on upside down," "he'll probably light up in a hack class" whatever else) that is based on your knowledge that he is an ottb and which you would not have for any other baby that was already started under tack, drop it.

                  They already know more than most freshly started youngsters their age. They have been handled by professionals the majority of their lives. Their jobs involved threading the needle through the gap at 40mph.

                  Expect him to be a polite, well-behaved citizen.
                  He was a working professional before he came to you, so anything less from him is taking advantage of pilot error or low pilot expectations.
                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                  • Original Poster

                    He IS polite and he does want to please. The more i praise and talk the better he is. When i longe him in the side reins, he doesn't curl; rather he is actually stretching into them - they are LOOSE. ha ha ha he does need to learn to stand for mounting. As soon as I get on, he wants to trot off!

                    He has a nice topline already and I am excited about him!! When i had my warmblood greenie (who had some balance issues) I put him in the side reins and worked transitions on the longe - it made a huge difference. Should I expect something different than that from my OTTB (i rode OTTBs as a kid, but have spent the last 20 years on warmbloods).

                    Any tips as to steering, slowing down, etcs. When I did trot him the 1st time under saddle, he braced against my hand and didn't want to stop. I gave him little half halts and then let go...


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by myalter1 View Post
                      Any tips as to steering, slowing down, etcs. When I did trot him the 1st time under saddle, he braced against my hand and didn't want to stop. I gave him little half halts and then let go...
                      A lot of riders on OTTBs get into a naggy ride with lots and lots of little half halts that they never expect (or get) an answer to.

                      Don't try to "massage" him slow. EXPECT him to remain under your seat without getting past you into your hand.

                      If he gets past you (probably by stride two, ) do a prompt transition to walk. EXPECT AN ANSWER. The walk transition should happen in at most two strides, not half a long side of asking coaxing gently asking. If he braces against your hand in the down transition don't react, but don't let go until he lets go either. If he is impatient in the walk, halt and calmly back two steps. Keep your hand passively there until he gives first.

                      When you have three polite walk steps, trot again.
                      Maybe he will last until stride three until he gets past you again and you have to repeat the exercise.

                      Allow yourself to EITHER half halt OR leave him alone with your hands. Do not naggedy nag with a million and one half halts all the way around the arena. When you ask for a transition, give him TWO STRIDES to answer, not two lengths of the arena.

                      Most horses will be practically transformed after 20 minutes of this if the rider has good timing and feel, and brings with her a fair but notable level of expectation.

                      Also, if you want to teach him to stand for mounting, halt as soon as you can after you swing a leg over and then reach down and feed him a treat. It does not matter if at first he scoots a little and then halts. Just wait until he is four footed long enough for treat feeding to be possible and then give him his mint.
                      He will soon learn that he has to stand still if he wants you to be able to feed him his treat, and he will start to "look for the halt". Should work in four or five rides.
                      The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                      Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                      • #12
                        What's he been doing the last 2 years?


                        • Original Poster

                          meupatdoes - that makes sense! Can't wait to try it. It's funny- when you have an OTTB and you've been riding warmbloods you do kind of get hung up on that...as though you need to ride them differently. Much of what you just said, i used on my young warmblood. Why I thought it would different on this guy - i don't know.

                          I have no history on the last 2 years. I only know he raced up until 2008 b/c i researched his tattoo.

                          Thanks everyone! I appreciate the support.


                          • #14
                            I agree with meupatdoes: just ride him like any other horse. The only caveat to that is that, as you go along, you may occasionally discover something or other that is a throwback to his racing days. Just learn to laugh about it, and then correct it exactly the same way that you would correct the behavior in any other horse. Ride him like he is already trained (which he likely is), and you will be amazed at the results you get. I do agree that you should stay away from side reins, etc., but I would say that about any horse, not just OTTBs.

                            I do think TBs sometimes require a bit more sypathetic correction than a WB requires. You'll learn over time how much it takes to properly teach a correct behavior in your particular horse.

                            My horse was also a little funny about horses coming up behind him at first (I got him about 2 weeks off the track). He got very tense and jiggy - like, "Hey, they should not be passing me, correct?" He also tucked his butt under as though he believed he was about to be smacked. I just calmly insisted that we allow the other horses to pass, and he got the idea in less than a week. I also recently discovered a hole in his training involving coming up on horses in FRONT of him. The first time I cantered a circle and ended up within maybe 20 feet of the horse in front of me, he flattened out and started to "go for it," ha ha! Luckily, he knows the basics very well now and immediately responded when I asked him to slow down and not try to outrun the poor little mare in front of us! Good thing to fix before taking him in any hack classes, lol.

                            Anyway, enjoy your new horse and don't worry too much about whether this or that is an OTTB behavior. At the end of the day, just think about how he SHOULD be going, and ride for that result.


                            • Original Poster

                              I started longing him b/c I think i don't trust MYSELF. It's been a long time since I rode one like this and I guess I am doubting that i can bring him along. He is REALLY nice. I have hopes for him...he's a fantastic mover, and super sweet. I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments. Guess I will start trotting this week.....


                              • #16
                                Well, I had a nice long post typed out in my head, but....

                                Everything caffeinated and meupatdoes said is great advice. OTTBs are not so different than other horses--in many cases they are more BTDT than most greenies. They also like to work--especially the ones who ran for a significant amount of time. They're used to having a job and get bored with nothing to do.

                                My only other advice would be not to go *too* slow with his training. At his age, he's not a baby and you don't have to go quite as slowly as you would with a 3 or 4 yr old. I made the mistake of creeping along with my guy's training when I first started him and he got REALLY bored. I finally learned to change things up/add new stuff and he was much better.

                                I have an OTTB, 11 yrs old, ran for almost 8 years. He is the freakin' coolest horse I have ever met. He is not perfect--he has some quirks--but the brain and personality in this horse are just awesome. LOVE him.

                                Enjoy your new guy!


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks! I was taking it slow...but then again, I took it slow with my WB too. I trotted for 6 months will very little cantering b/c he was unbalanced at the canter and I am kind of particular...BUT that being said, when I sold the WB after having him for 2 years, he was super balanced and really really fun to ride...

                                  Will start working this one....


                                  • #18
                                    Ditch the side reins.

                                    Just ride him. Especially after two years, he's just another horse. IF he hasn't had much done with him since his races he might be a little funny about things like canter cues (I had to learn how to ask 'backwards' from what I'd always done.) And I've learned to pick my battles--he wants his hooves done 'track-style' (from the near side for all four), if that makes my life easier, fine, I'm not gonna argue.

                                    Biggest thing with both my OT boys was and is not to let them get away with something once--do it, and they've learned it that way, and UNteaching it is suddenly a production number.
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                                    • Original Poster

                                      Out of curiosity, what do you all do with your OTTBs? Do you show them? Hunters, jumpers? I am curious to know....what levels?

                                      I am hoping to make this one up and do the 3' hunters...maybe a derby if he is brave....(or if I am brave, more like it!)


                                      • #20
                                        Mine will (hopefully) show in the baby green hunters in 2011. He's five now, and had most of his four year old year off due to an injury. He'll probably finish as a 3' hunter.