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Ethics Issue re: OTTB/former barn

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  • Ethics Issue re: OTTB/former barn

    In a nutshell: A horse I knew on the track has recently been given to a barn in my area. I know horse from track and know him to be a good guy. Easy to gallop, potenial to be a nice riding horse (I ride H/J in addition to working at track).. Horse left track with slight injury, given 6 months off at owners farm then given to "lesson/boarding/show" barn in area. (I used to ride there) Friend of mine works at said barn and he informed me that horse (which has NO retraining after his race career) has been used as a LESSON HORSE! Horse has gotten 2 students off because he has no canter, only a gallop. Friend also used to work at track (not with this horse) and has told this BO that he knows the horse has no retraining. Never the less, the horse is apparently being used as a lesson horse even thought this employee has told the BO about his non-training.

    Question: I am remotely friendly with the former connections of this horse. I'm sure they want the best for him. (they raised and bred him) Should I contact the former owner? This is a nice horse, very sweet but he's not being retrained. I fear that he'll be branded a roque because people keep falling off him. I'd hate to see him in a bad situation because he was never given a chance to be a nice horse.


  • #2
    I would advise minding your own business unless specifically asked for help or you are willing to buy the horse.


    • #3
      All I have to say is that if I had bred and raised this horse, I would want to know.


      • #4
        Do what you think is right! You are the only one who has to approve of your actions and motives.
        You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!


        • #5
          I would advise the owner and breeder. I have seen horses earn that reputation of being roque. I'm on my second racetrack reject and I found out their pasts by a fluke. Aside from the horse and what could happen to him, there are students that are being put at risk by being placed an inexperienced horse. Do what you think is right. If it were me, I'd be making phone calls right away.


          • #6
            Well, just to play devils advocate, what exactly would you have the former owner do? Call up and offer to take the horse back? Does the current home even want to get rid of the horse? While I completely understand the desire to look out for a horse you have bred and raised, I also think the old owner is in a tricky spot--they may want to intervene but they no longer own the horse. The current owner might resent being "checked up on" or resent the old owner either for wanting the horse back or suggesting that they handle it differently. The horse world is a small place, too, and I suppose that this could also backfire on you if the current owner finds out that you have said anything negative about them to the previous owner.

            All things considered, I probably would mention something to the former owner, but I would choose my words very carefully and try not to cause alarm or stir things up.


            • Original Poster

              BeeHoney, you have it on my dilemma. I know that if I contact the breeder/former owner that the curent BO will know that I sent the alarm call. I used to ride at this barn (when I was riding/showing more) and it was a friend of mine that put horse and current owner together.
              I don't want to ruffle feathers but as nice as he is, this is not a horse ready to be a lesson horse. He raced in October and had a slight issue afterward that sent him to the farm. Farm doesnt have riders and I know he was just turned out to heal. I'm confident that breeder would take him back if they thought he was at risk but since I am still friendly with an employee of current owner as several of her boarders, I want to keep peace. also don't want anyone to be hurt because they are riding a horse that has no post race training. I can't believe that a lesson barn would do this sort of thing with a total restart OTTB!


              • #8
                It is a tricky one, I'll give you that. I understand that you want to keep the peace, but how will you feel if you say nothing and someone gets seriously hurt on him? It's not a fair postion you're in, but if there's a legitimate safety hazard I feel like you need to say something.


                • #9
                  To be devil's advocate, things can get distorted through the rumor mill. For instance, I had a pony at my barn once. It belonged to a neighboring farm. Pony was there because the ponies escaped the fencing, the owner was away on business and couldn't get back. They were safe at my place so they stayed with me until the repairs on the fence were done.

                  I did not tell my boarders all of this, they did not "need to know". Guess what? It turned into I bought both the ponies from said neighbor and was breeding them.

                  I take everything I hear with a grain of salt unless I have seen it for myself, outside a few excpetions. My very own best friend has the tendency to misread situations so I even take her stories w/ salt.
                  Come to the dark side, we have cookies


                  • #10
                    Maybe if you could offer a solution it would be taken well.

                    Can you offer to train ride him? Maybe he could be used for walking lessons ( or tacking lessons) at the barn, while he is being retrained. Or go back to the owner for 6 months of retraining then back to the lesson barn.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chall View Post
                      Maybe if you could offer a solution it would be taken well.

                      Can you offer to train ride him? Maybe he could be used for walking lessons ( or tacking lessons) at the barn, while he is being retrained. Or go back to the owner for 6 months of retraining then back to the lesson barn.
                      This is exactly what I was going to suggest.
                      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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chall View Post
                        Maybe if you could offer a solution it would be taken well.

                        Can you offer to train ride him? Maybe he could be used for walking lessons ( or tacking lessons) at the barn, while he is being retrained. Or go back to the owner for 6 months of retraining then back to the lesson barn.
                        Since it is not your horse (or technically your business, no offense) I would absolutely not offer to train or become involved with the horse's current owner. I think it is a very rough position you are in and I know it would be a huge dilemma for me to see a good horse not get a fair chance.

                        Perhaps it would be in the horse's best interst if you put your friend who is currently involved with the horse in touch with the previous owners/breeder. That way you are not misrepresenting the situation in any way and someone who has seen the situation first hand can speak to exactly what is going on.

                        Unfortunately the horse is not being mistreated in any way so I would advise you be very careful about speaking out against any local professionals. That can make any future relations challenging not only between that person and yourself but anyone that lesson barn trainer may know. The horse business is a very small world.

                        I'm sorry for your troubles.


                        • #13
                          I would mind my own business unless asked. I agree if you start saying things it will be easily tracked back to your friend (which perhaps she shouldn't have shared this info with you to start with).

                          The former owners I am sure are free & able to check on the horse at it's new home if they so wanted. For all you know they have checked in & are happy with things.
                          "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


                          • #14
                            Oh for Pete's sake

                            I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Here's why. I boarded at a barn. I had two, plain bay OTTBs at the time, no white markings, and while it wasn't that hard to tell them apart, the barn workers used to put them in the wrong stalls at least once a week. No big deal. One of the horses was a 10 yr old, show hunter. Not an easy ride, but very well trained. The other was a 4 yr old, too slow for the track that had been off the track less than a month. He had been hacked around the arena by me and done little cross rails. Very quiet, very well mannered. Trainer (friend of mine) calls me at work, says one of her student's horse is lame, can they use Tuff (show horse) for a lesson. Told her to go ahead. You know what happened next, student gets wrong horse out of wrong stall, takes lesson on him. They didn't figure out she was riding the wrong horse until it stopped at a 2'6" fence. (Tuff wouldn't have stopped at 4'6"). We all just laughed about it.

                            And as for it "not having a canter" I've been on an awful lot of OTTBs, some of them have unbalanced canters but they all have one. And a gallop is just faster, that in itself shouldn't cause someone to come off. Often the transition is wonky, especially if they are trying to get it from a walk, but from a trot, it's just not that hard.

                            Sounds like it's quiet enough to use for lessons and the BO wouldn't be the first person to put miles one that way.


                            • #15
                              I understand and appreciate your concern, but I don't think it's really your place to tell former owners (whether or not they care is kind of beside the point, if they wanted to retain control of the horse's training, they should not have sold him). If the riders are scared or endangered, it's the responsibility of the riders or their guardians, as well as the trainer/bm/bo to speak up, then maybe appropriate for the current employees to say something if none of the other individuals do, because it doesn't sound like anyone's safety is in exceptional danger, and plenty of riding stables incorporate retraining horses into their program. My current trainer is definitely not of that persuasion, but my old barn did take in project horses as lesson mounts and the riders assigned to those horses were taught about the training/retraining program of their horses and everything that went with it. From the outside, someone may see a new horse in the program and say that horse shouldn't be "a lesson horse", without realizing the lesson WAS the retraining/restarting of a horse. I don't know, I guess I come from my experience- I was put on an ottb without prior restarting experience, and while it took longer than if my trainer (the bo) had been training him himself, the horse turned into a lovely, well balanced hunter (even if he did retain some need for speed at times!). But that first six months or so did include some... Exciting moments.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you for the suggestions and sympathy. I handled this guy at the track and know his breeder, who also raced and retired him. I also know he wasn't ridden AT ALL at the farm and that the first rider on him after his last jock hopped off was a walk trot rider! That is a bit disturbing. As you can see, I have concern for both the horse and potential riders.

                                2ndyrgal, this isn't just a case of a not finished OTTB but one that has not been ridden by anyone but exercise riders/jocks in his entire career. He has no walk or trot either. If your kid who doesn't even canter yet was assigned to ride a horse that was last ridden by a jockey, in a race, in the fall, you might have an issue. He was quiet for exercise riders at the track, not beginner riders!

                                I started out at a barn that did OTTB's and that was how I made it to the track. I rode plenty of very green OT horses but not as a beginner rider. It sounds like the same situation as bits619 (post above) where experienced students were taught how to work with OT horses. Imagine my shock when I showed up to video my friend schooling her sale horse and saw this horse heading into the indoor with a beginner, a week after arriving from the farm!

                                I no longer ride at this farm but have friends who do so I have seen horse. He's not abused and seems his usual friendly self in his stall. Issue is that my current business will bring me in contact with the farm manager/staff at the farm where he came from. They know that I am connected to lesson barn and will probably ask about horse. Farm has given away other OTTB's to be retrained and I think that they figured that this guy would be a "trainer project" kind of horse.

                                EDIT: If I'd been in a position to take him on as a project, I would have. If I still rode at this barn, I'd offer my services but my current situation makes it impossible.
                                Last edited by BreakawayhAlter; May. 2, 2013, 02:07 PM.


                                • #17
                                  Stay out of it, you'll only cause problems you didn't intend to cause. He's not mistreated or abused, so just let the "chips fall where they may". BO is obviously happy with the way things are going or SHE would be the one to contact the old owners and talk to them personally. It's a small world and you don't want to become "that busybody" we've all encountered.

                                  Good luck though, I do realize you only have the horses best interests at heart and so it makes it even harder!
                                  Last edited by eclipse; May. 2, 2013, 02:08 PM. Reason: craptastic speller
                                  Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!


                                  • #18
                                    Does your friend who still rides at this barn not want to offer her own help in retraining him? That seems like the easiest fix, as he sounds like a good guy who won't really require a ton of reschooling.

                                    But, yes, I do agree that it is a bit troubling that the horse was ridden by a walk/trot rider for the first time coming back into work after six months after last being ridden by a jockey in a race! If nothing else, I think it speaks volumes about this horse's character that this walk/trot rider is still alive and well!


                                    • #19
                                      It's all good and well to talk about the horse's best interest, but what about the unsuspecting students that are riding hm (and coming off!) in lessons? I sure hope no one gets injured because an idiot BO who knows the horse has no training yet puts beginner riders up on him anyway.
                                      Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


                                      • #20
                                        Well you were there, correct? You saw him being ridden by a beginner when you were there to video tape your friend. I wouldn't volunteer information if asked, but if the breeder/old owner asks you when they see you... Tell them exactly what you saw, one week after he got there. Don't bring up anything your friend told you, that's gossip and going to cause problems.