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Question for CANTER/FLF/OTTB placement folks

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  • Question for CANTER/FLF/OTTB placement folks

    How many of the horses you list are coming off the track with injuries or soundness issues? Do you and/or the trainers you assist in horse sales/placement typically list horses with issues, or just horses too slow/noncompetitive?

    Our local track surface is absolutely destructive on horses. I work with a trainer who stops on them if something crops up. IE swollen ankles. As a result, we have an overflow of young OTTBs we're looking to place. It is really hard to explain just how brutal our track is on horses - everyone in the show/pleasure world who comes out to look asks, "This is a nice horses, why didn't he race?" and my response is just that the track was too hard on the horse, but as soon as I mention swollen ankles or knee, they're totally turned off. I think they think I'm dancing around the truth and trying to hide things, but I'm not. I try to be honest and upfront. This does not make for a whole lot of sales, but the horses we do sell go on and do just fine soundness-wise.

    Any thoughts on this? Ways I could do this better without leaving out important details that potential buyers have a right to know?
    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati

  • #2
    The Finger Lakes listings that I browse routinely (and bought a horse from) do have horses with injuries, on stall rest, old ankles, etc. I've seen the same notes on CANTER listings. Of course the people writing the listings only know what the trainer tells them, and the trainer is the one the buyer is dealing with (I only spoke on the phone with Lucky's trainer/owner and the vet I asked to do a PPE, not anyone from the listing.)

    I don't know, for me it would just be an issue of what kind of injury--I'd try to be more specific than "swollen knee" or "swollen ankle". I would still look at a horse with a filled bow or old cold ankles, would be a lot more hesitant on one with chips who'd need surgery or a slab fracture.
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    • #3
      There was a trainer similar to yours at our track. In order to make the horses more appealing to buyers, they were schooled in basic w/t/c/ started over jumps and ridden western trail riding -- those who could, also learned to pony and we'd also show locally.

      We did this more to prove the horses were performing, showing their abilities, capable -- not just *prospects*

      For many buyers, they want *perfect* and not even "free" will entice them to consider a horse with *jewelry". Those horses with very obvious looking *injuries* were targeted for trail, lesson, and lower budget family horses.
      IN GOD WE TRUST
      OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
      http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680

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      • #4
        I am an older, rerider with stiffness and past riding injuries both mental and physical that came from my unsuitable horses as well as from lessons.

        I have seen TB in my barn. I am currently looking for a calm, gentle gelding to do ring work and some rides on the track around the ring.

        Having seen a few OTTBs at my barn, I would be relucant to even get on an OTTB, much less take on one for free, no matter how "calm" it was touted to be.

        and maybe those at my barn were the exception not the rule but I believe the "trail" TBs are the exception not the rule.

        At least for the rider looking for the beginner horse and unfortunately usually the beginner rider is looking for the "budget" priced horse.
        I know, my friend is doing just that and not finding anything suitable for her!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by HannahsMom7 View Post
          I am an older, rerider with stiffness and past riding injuries both mental and physical that came from my unsuitable horses as well as from lessons.

          I have seen TB in my barn. I am currently looking for a calm, gentle gelding to do ring work and some rides on the track around the ring.

          Having seen a few OTTBs at my barn, I would be relucant to even get on an OTTB, much less take on one for free, no matter how "calm" it was touted to be.

          and maybe those at my barn were the exception not the rule but I believe the "trail" TBs are the exception not the rule.

          At least for the rider looking for the beginner horse and unfortunately usually the beginner rider is looking for the "budget" priced horse.
          I know, my friend is doing just that and not finding anything suitable for her!
          The key to most of the retiring racehorses is that they need time and education to become the perfect trail horse. Depending on their age and experience it could take a lot or a little. Some of the Thoroughbreds are ridden on trails at their home farms on the off season, some race year 'round by going to another track.

          In general (and there are always exceptions to the rule) a horse fresh off the track is not a good match for a beginner, free or not.

          If your friend is interested in a Thoroughbred just because they are plentiful and cheap it's probably not the best idea. If a Thoroughbred is what your friend would like then look into a horse that has been let down from track life and educated in trail etiquette. I'd highly recommend the "Beyond the Track" book to your friend. Understanding how the ex-racer has worked and been cared for is really important to transitioning the horse to a new career.

          Speaking from experience, I've had two lovely ex-racers that were great on trails. They were not as solid and dependable as my Morgan but then he didn't race for the first years of his life.

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          • #6
            I can honestly say the majority of horses that are donated to us are sound but just too slow. We do take horses with minimal injuries that we can rehab- bows, suspensories and things just need a few months of rest. Of course we take some broken horses as well but less of those because they require more funding.

            I find it very normal that any horse that has been actively running is going to be sore somewhere which is why all of our horses get to go hang out on the huge 100+ acre farm and be a horse for no less than 2 months before they come into the retraining program.

            Then we spend time starting them on the flat, teaching to lunge, trail riding, introducing jumping and all that other stuff. We get them muscled up and looking good so that when buyers do come they can have an accurate representation of what the horse want to do in their second career.

            I would personally not be turned off by horses that are sore coming right off the track as it is completely normal but most people who are buying horses for resale have a hard time looking past that.
            http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

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            • #7
              As for the horses still at the track or listed by trainers - I'd say the vast majority of them look perfectly fine to me, minus a little body soreness. I've gotten used to seeing horses that look a little hinky on the right hind, and typically don't view that as an issue that rest/careful work won't fix. I see some ankles here and there.

              Of course we have to go by what the trainers tell us, so it's impossible to fully verify any horse's soundness.

              As for your situation, feel you there. I think someone like me or Jess or anybody who buys lots of horses at the track, we'd understand that and take it into account (though I'd still get vettings done - x rays more than flexions or subjective stuff). But I think a lot of folks shopping are looking for one horse here and there and don't necessarily see a lot of them, so it's hard for them to look past those things.

              Not sure if there's a way you can word that to explain it to potential buyers in a non scary way - I think we try to educate, and the blogs we have up try to make a point of this - showing videos of horses when they first get started, vs how they look with time and work. But when people are looking to spend money (even a small amount), they're going to shy away from anything that deviates from perfect (and sometimes, the cheaper the horse the more perfect it has to be)
              "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

              My CANTER blog.

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              • #8
                People in general have the wrong idea about Thoroughbreds who come off the track. Having been involved with OTTBs for years I have seen many with minor issues coming off work. With some time off they heal and never have another problem. But there is a preconception you have to get past - that any big ankle or knee is a career ender, and it's not necessarily true. I think the gen-pop is just not familiar enough to understand that these horses can be quiet, sound and safe - and FUN.
                I'm of the opinion that a couple of months of turnout and mental as well as physical rest does a world of good.
                I too go to the track for prospects and have had to completely pass on anything with a visible issue. Buyers are just too apprehensive no matter how inexpensive the price tag.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HannahsMom7 View Post
                  I am an older, rerider with stiffness and past riding injuries both mental and physical that came from my unsuitable horses as well as from lessons.

                  I have seen TB in my barn. I am currently looking for a calm, gentle gelding to do ring work and some rides on the track around the ring.

                  Having seen a few OTTBs at my barn, I would be relucant to even get on an OTTB, much less take on one for free, no matter how "calm" it was touted to be.

                  and maybe those at my barn were the exception not the rule but I believe the "trail" TBs are the exception not the rule.

                  At least for the rider looking for the beginner horse and unfortunately usually the beginner rider is looking for the "budget" priced horse.
                  I know, my friend is doing just that and not finding anything suitable for her!
                  This is why I would not just go to the Canter site and buy a horse. My trainer has contacts in the horse industry and has gotten at least 4 horse from the same trainer - all the same - sound, sane, non-spooky, throw a beginner on and go types. Other thoroughbreds have come through that have been different and I do not know what the difference is (breeding, training, etc), but if I were looking for a kid-safe horse, I would have her go to that trainer. If I were looking for a performance horse, I may go to another one, etc.

                  I know this is not feasible for everyone, but if you can, find a contact at the track to help you.

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                  • #10
                    Don't forget about the foster programs - lots of horses come off the track and are put into foster homes. It doesn't mean necessarily there is anything wrong w/ them - lots are perfectly sound - they just needed a safe place to land until a permanent home can be found.
                    "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England

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                    • #11
                      I'm sorry, I didn't read over my reply.
                      My girlfriend is looking for an inexpensive horse, unfortunately, there are many that are TB's.

                      I keep telling her no.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'd get a TB over a lot of other breeds. Unless she's never ridden before, especially an older gelding is going to be a lot more world-wise than an unknown quantity off craigslist. Lucky is, in general, unfazed by most noise and activity. Rides out in the woods, in the field, along the road, and generally doesn't care.

                        I wouldn't buy a BABY (2-3 year old), but the ones who've been at it a while have pretty much seen it all and know how to be handled on the ground.
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                        • #13
                          I am also a rerider with past injuries including a really bad neck. My current horse raced until 9, has some jewlery, and his one of the best horses I have ever had the pleasure of being on. He has toted absolute adult beginners around the ring with the utmost care. He had some time off to regroup and my trainer worked with him and me getting less racing and more riding muscle on him and we taught him to use himself properly. He was VERY inexpensive and I would not let anyone pry him out of my cold dead hands for any amount of money. He is sane sane sane, which I have found most of the older racers are. If they were not, they would have not lasted as long as they did. He is impeccable for the vet, the farrier, for trailering etc. The only thing he really has not been wonderful for is the accupuncture. He really did not like it at all. We tried twice and then bagged it. He has a great work ethic and a whole lot of class. I would not hesitate to look at an OTTB. I would also say, that having a trainer who is really familar with them is very beneficial..they need to learn a new skill set, and a person familar with their old racing skill set is in a better position to transition them seamlessly.

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                          • #14
                            You can't shop only by price for a beginner horse!!! Come out here to Oklahoma where there a lots of good, cheap QH's, Paints, Apps and assorted ranch horses. I've been involved with thoroughbreds for almost 50 years and never saw a "beginner suitable" OTTB fresh off the track! Some of the late 20 year old TB's are still not beginner horses!! Some get to be OK, but not without a lot of riding time...and then for the "right" rider!!
                            www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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                            • #15
                              I had a four-year-old kid on Lucky for a pony ride less than six months after his last race. We never saw a trainer for over a year (and I took much of her stuff with a grain of salt as she does NH elements. Some useful info, mostly the reassurance that I can push him harder than I do.)

                              If you aren't looking to make some perfect show horse, most of those old-campaigner geldings are about as bomb-proof as they come. I'd trust green beans on him far more than any other horse in the barn (none of whom are TBs, just a variety of trail horses, and an ex-harness pony.) It takes a lot to get him upset because he's already seen it all.

                              I wouldn't suggest a baby or one who washed out because they didn't have the brain for the track for a beginner or a rerider, but older, gelded a long time, traveled a lot? If they stayed sound for that they're made of iron and if they stayed mentally together, they're as sane as you can ask a horse to be.

                              One tip I learned from here--find out if the gallopers liked getting on them in the mornings if you can. Exercise riders like horses that AREN'T out to try and kill them. If he's a horse they like working, he's a smart one and likely level-headed.
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                              • #16
                                I have a question for you guys that are experienced with OTTB's - I always see where they are not recommended for a beginner, is because of the let down process and re-training or because they are "hot"?

                                I help take care of several Fjords, Norwegian Forest Ponys, and one TB. Feed, bring in, groom, muck, etc and the TB is one of the nicest horses on the property. Huge, but sweet and loves attention!

                                After being around him and seeing some other TB's that my friends own I was just curious - they sure don't seem hot. Very athletic and big strided, but not hot.

                                No, I'm not looking to buy anything right now. I don't have the money, but one day I would like to get a horse. I'd love to get an older gelding that has done his time at the track and would enjoy just hacking around on trails and doing some flat work.

                                It sure doesn't keep me from looking at Finger Lakes Finest or Canter though. I'm always drawn to the older guys that the owners or trainers are already riding on the property

                                Thanks,
                                Stephanie

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                                • #17
                                  Stephanie,
                                  I have a steady stream of CANTER Mid Atlantic horses that have been donated coming into my farm for retraining. I can honestly say 80% of them are just that quiet and easy that an average rider with no experience with Tb's would be just fine on them.

                                  The difference in buying something that has been let down and restarted a bit is that you can see it's true personality.

                                  I just sold one last week who was a 6yr and his new owner already took him out for a bareback ride across the fields. I have another one right now that has that same type of brain where he anybody could ride him.

                                  I suppose my answer is that if you want to guarantee success in buying one of the really easy laidback Tb's then buy something that has already been off the track so it is easier to evaluate.
                                  http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

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                                  • #18
                                    Thank you for response and for all the volunteers for doing what you do! I love reading all the canter blogs and about your journey with the newbies off the track. It must be very rewarding for you, albeit heartbreaking at times.

                                    When I do get ready to buy, hopefully before I'm 80!, I will be taking my instructor with me - I want to bring home any and everything I see. That's how I wound up with 5 cats and had to start fostering for a rescue because I couldn't keep them all! lol

                                    Stephanie

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                                    • #19
                                      Stephanie, I think a lot of people confuse "forward" with "hot" as well. A quiet TB is still often happiest when striding out and going somewhere (though it can be hard to get them going sometimes!) but I wouldn't describe any of the ones I know as "hot"

                                      (but a rider with low confidence or used to a slow horse might get tense on some of them, and I think that's where you run into problems)
                                      "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                                      My CANTER blog.

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                                      • #20
                                        Hannah'sMom, you do realize that the purchase price is the least expensive part of owning a horse? If you take a horse right off the track, he will require re-training (and almost always by someone who knows what they are doing).

                                        My on the track for 8 years, gelded at 10 guy is the sanest, calmest, most sound, most bombproof horse in the barn. He's got big ankles, but it doesn't affect him in the slightest.

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