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What to look for in an OTTB

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  • What to look for in an OTTB

    I'm thinking of getting a horse, but can noway afford a fancy schmancy gp prospect

    Sooo tell me what to look for in off the track TBs please!

    I'll probably get one to train, show, and resell - preferably jumpers, but I can deal with a hunter.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    If you are looking for a resell and not a personal horse, you are going to have more if you try to find something more suited for hunters than jumpers. There is a flood of 3''/3'3'' jumpers on the market (at least around me, not sure about your area!) Unless you find something that is crazy athletic and can get ribbons in jumpers 3'6''++ you are going to have more resell success on a 3ft hunter than a 3ft jumper.

    If you're looking for something for yourself to enjoy to maybe eventually sell, then go for a jumper if that is what you want to compete in.

    As far as what to look for, there are many people more qualified than I on this board who can weigh in. I can only tell you what I looked for when I was horse searching for my OTTB: brain and soundness. I was looking for a project horse, not a personal horse, and I knew I could eventually sell something sane and sound even if it turned out to not be as athletic as I had hoped. But I've seen first hand how impossible it is to sell a psycho, athletic, sound horse in this market! I got very lucky in that my guy can jump but I know I could have found him someplace off of his brain if I had too.

    (I've heard the saying that men can be smart, nice, and attractive but only two at a time. I feel like the same is true of horses...sane, sound, athletic: choose two!)

    Brain can be harder to judge than you think though, depending on if the horse is still race fit and hasn't had down time. The sale video of my guy jogging on the track has him looking like a kite on the end of the lead - he spent more time with his feat in the air then on the ground. Now I wish he had kept some of that...he is so SLOW.

    Good luck! And hopefully someone can point you in the right direction to find something near you

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    • #3
      This exactly!! With a TB it's all about the brain...but it must be attached to a sound body!! Good looks mean a lot for me, too!!! The pretty, sound, sane ones don't eat any more than an ugly one!! A horse that is a "keeper", must be nice to live with every day....a horse to sell MUST be sane enough for the next guy (buyer) to like and live with. TB's with good minds are the best ride/choice for me!!
      www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
      Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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      • #4
        good mind, good feet... ideally a shorter back and uphill build.

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        • #5
          Everything Rel said is dead on. Hunters are an easier resell, unless the horse jumps 4ft or more, because 1m or 1.10m horses are a dime a dozen. 16hh and up is an easier resell. If it is kind and easy, it will always have a home somewhere, even if it isn't a GP horse.

          On the other hand, the market isn't great, so make sure it's a horse you will enjoy having in your barn and riding every day until it sells also! Learned this from experience and won't repeat the mistake of getting one I don't enjoy ever again.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          "I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." --Vincent Van Gogh

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          • #6
            What is most important to you? Are you looking to make a decent amount of money? Or to have fun with until you sell, not worrying too much about what you do sell for?

            With the economy being what it is, it may be difficult to find an OTTB and market it for the hunter circuit AND make a lot of money. Although I don't do hunters anymore, I do get the sense that a lot of people these days are finding well priced warmbloods in this economy that may be more attractive to the average buyer. That isn't to say that OTTB's can't do the job. I know of one particular person who has an amazing TB who has won in the hunters against warmbloods on the serious A circuit. I don't think this is the norm through.

            With that said, I do own an OTTB myself. I currently compete her in dressage and HT's. When I went to buy, a HUGE thing for me was the TB brain. I'm pretty sure I got that. She's also very athletic, loves to jump, but is a bit too hot to be a hunter at least right now. However, she has a great work ethic and is very patient while we learn a lot of things together. She is also very people oriented which to me is really important.

            PM me if you'd like more info on how I went about looking and selecting one.





            1) look for good feet. TB's

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            • #7
              I purchased an OTTB last fall. I'm completely in love and while I'm pretty sure he will be mine forever, I would love to get another one down the rode to retrain and sell. I recommend the book "beyond the track" by anna morgan ford. There is info on retraining but also a section on what to look for and how to procure them. I also like the website for bits and bytes farm. http://www.bitsandbytesfarm.com/ A lot of interesting info and blogs on horses progress.

              I kept getting warned that TBs aren't typically successful in the hunter ring right now, even though they are making a comeback. The head trainer just said they are too hot etc (he's a warmblood guy). That said, I bought my boy assuming I would be "stuck" in the jumpers (I actually like jumpers best) but now my trainers have changed their tune and decided he'd be competitive in the hunters as well.

              Sound mind, nice feet and a desire to please are high up on my list. I agree so much with Rel about sanity over athleticism when it comes to resale.

              Good luck!
              "Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.” - Lady Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

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              • #8
                For re sale you want a clean legged horse that is balanced and pleasing to they eye. nice attractive color and definitely a gelding 3 to 5 in age and not under 16 h no matter how awesome the package. kind eye with a good mind zero vices and 3 basic good to exceptional gaits. Buy a horse who stands up square and flat footed on all 4 feet by himself and has a great walk really swings thru the hips and back. The least problems you startboitvwithnthe better off down the road...good luck

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                • #9
                  You can increase your chances of getting a nice one if you buy from someone reputable who has already done the preliminary screening at the track, chosen the horse as a promising prospect, and started its retraining. New Vocations, CANTER, Three Plain Bays, places like this all have the horses and are already working with them.

                  There is something very romantic about the idea of picking one directly from the backside, and you can get some amazing deals that way, but unless you have a great deal of experience and can afford to start over if the horse doesn't work out, I wouldn't recommend that.
                  I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

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                  • #10
                    Temperament, temperament, temperament. Then soundness, athleticism, and looks. And no compromising in any category. It is really hard to resell a TB that is a tricky ride, you won't be able get your investment back. I'd choose something rideable enough that could be either a hunter OR a jumper, because if you find out the horse lacks scope there is always a decent market for a rideable horse that can jump pleasantly around a course of jumps. As someone else suggested, there is a much bigger market for 3' hunters than 3' jumpers.

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                    • #11
                      I think finding ottb's that can be successful in the hunter ring (especially above local levels) is tough and I do sell a lot of Tb's. It just takes a horse that is quiet enough for that world, has flatter movement and the jump. They typically also have to be absolutely ammy friendly. Not saying you can't find them but they are harder to find in my opinion.

                      You really want something with a nice big canter that just wants to stay in the same rhythm. Sure, you can train them but if you find one that has it naturally than it sure makes it much easier!

                      It is hard to evaluate how something will jump if you are buying from the track and I think with hunters they have to jump with good form where jumpers can get away with unconventional form over fences. That leads me to think that if you are purchasing something that will absolutely be a good hunter than you are going to want to buy a horse that you can see jump even if it is just a free jump.Unless you can risk that it doesn't want to be a hunter or doesn't have the right skillset to be a hunter.

                      There are a ton of us who do resell of horses that are recently off the track where we can at least evaluate attitude, brain, movement and jump.

                      I don't generally buy for a specific discipline when I shop. I just buy a horse that I think will resell nicely. My general shopping criteria is the same as most resellers- 3-6yrs, 15.3 and up, gelding, sound with no vices and good conformation with looks that catch your eye. If the conformation is good the horse is generally athletic enough to find a job with proper retraining.
                      http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

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                      • #12
                        I agree it depends on what your goals are. My last was a resale so brains sweet and soundness were key. This current one, I bought for me, for the long haul. I honestly couldn't care how much of a jerk they are if they go nice. He is a bit of a jerk, definitely wouldn't trust him on the ground with a kid. But he's amazing under saddle has the best attitude ever. His only down side is his size. I look great on him, but if I ever do go to resell I know his 15.2 1/2 frame is going to hurt us, since at this point he's not child's material for handling. OH well you can't have it all, and I'll take some 'tude if it means having quality movement under me.

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                        • #13
                          Confo, height, color, brain. In that order. I say brain last because I've owned a ton of OTTBs, you would be surprised at what a different horse you have after a few months off the track... My current mare my first ride on her, she ran out from underneath me before I could even think about getting in her. She is now quiet enough I let my 4 year old ride. If you have correct confo, you should (in theory at least, lol) have a decent mover. Make sure it's over 16hh, I've have some stellar horses that people wouldn't look at cause at 15.3hh they were too short for their 12 year old.. Try to find an attractive color. I never look at anything with old injuries, period, it just makes me weary. I adore OTTBs, good luck.

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                          • #14
                            Well, to the above poster who said that it is difficult to buy off the backside, it is... but the rewards are great. You get first pick, the horses are cheaper (it was explained to me that once it is decided the horse needs to sell, every day it is there it is a waste of money for the owner, so prices are very negotiable) and often, if you set up an appointment with a trainer who knows their way around, you can see lots and lots of horses in one day.

                            That said, be sure you know your conformation and you can look at a horse and judge whether or not it is built for what you want to do quickly- they won't want to wait for you to hem and haw over a horse.

                            The way a horse is tacked up can tell you a lot about it, too. My mare's tack was pretty much entirely covered in fleece. Yep, she's really sensitive skinned. She had her tongue tied, and yep, she needs a flash. Things like this.

                            Have your criteria in mind, but don't be afraid to be flexible. Have some things that are absolutely concrete, but others you can maybe trade-off on. (So, for me, because I am tall, I had to have something over 16.2 so I wasn't able to put my feet on the ground from the saddle, but gender was negotiable: mare, gelding, or stud colt were fine, although the stud cold had to be a little cheaper so I'd have money for gelding. I absolutely wanted something 100% sound, but I didn't care what color it was. Things like this are helpful for whoever is showing you horses.)

                            When you are shown horses, keep in mind that they are moving like they would for racing. Surprisingly, lots about this can be changed with training (so, they won't have that little jigging trot forever!). If possible, look at the horse going very forward- at all three gaits, as this will give you the best idea possible as to how it naturally moves. Even a gallop down the track can help you determine how the horse moves. A horse who is very smooth will likely be smooth in its other gaits as well, but will have a more flat-kneed type movement. A horse with a very flashy gallop with knees all over (sounds funny, but you'll know it when you see it) will be a bit of a more flashy mover although there is the potential for simply a bumpy ride there as well.

                            If you decide to vet a horse, do the entire workup, and if possible hire a track vet (without conflicting interest). They do x-rays and exams for so much cheaper than sport horse vets, and they can do a pretty good job of interpreting them for you. (Not on specifics, but in general terms, as in, "This horse is sound/not sound enough for a demanding athletic career after it leaves the track" not "This would make a great jump prospect because of blahblah.")

                            Best of luck! If you want to ask me questions feel free to pm me!

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                            • #15
                              I think it really depends what you want.

                              I bought a resale horse, 16.1hh+ 4 tall stockings and a blaze. He was longish in the back, a skightly below average mover. Excellent brain. Clean legs. Sold instantly I think because of his markings.

                              Another horse I bought is bay with same height/markings. Also long back, not so clean legs (splints). He's not athletic at all, but slightly above average mover. Downhill. Beacause of his markings I have been offered close to 10,000 for him. He, however, is a pet and never for sale.

                              My other personal TB is shorter backed, plain dark bay. Average as they come to look at (but very well conformed). Slightly above average mover. OK feet (one clubby). 10+ jumper. Many many seasons on the A circuit in the hunters.


                              So, resale - you need something flashy and clean. Own, go for something with good conformation/feet and dont worry about markings/look. I like shorter backs, but I have also known some very athletic ones who are just a hair longe than aveage. Agree to a slightly uphill build, but not ewe necked.

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