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What to worry about in a MUCH raced OTTB?

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  • What to worry about in a MUCH raced OTTB?

    10y.o. OTTB, 70+ starts, last race December 2011 (16 months ago). Thoughts on a horse with that much track history? What would your biggest concerns be?

    (He rides sound and is dead quiet, although very forward and unbalanced at the canter. Pre-purchase exam would not be cost-effective relative to sale price... Just wondering re: some basic things to be on the lookout for, with a horse with this much mileage.)
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

  • #2
    While a PPE may cost as much, or more than that horse, it will help you steer away from one that could become very expensive, very quickly.

    Comment


    • #3
      If he raced that much for that long and retired sound, he's a tough guy!

      Wouldn't bother me much. Just work on getting him more balanced and in line with his new ''retired" status.

      I once bought a mare off the track for $300. Paid 20 bucks for the track vet to listen to her heart & lungs and assure me she wouldn't drop dead once my check cleared. She was a nice horse.

      Enjoy your new horse!

      Comment


      • #4
        I bought an 8 year old TB with 75 starts in 2002. He's done hunters and eventing with both of my kids and is still eventing at 19 with the youngest. He's needed some routine maintenance over the last few years due to his mileage, such as hock injections and he's presently maintained on Pentosan, but I've known horses half his age that need such things. I love this guy, wish I could clone him. He's not perfect, for instance, he can be hot & sensitive, and he HATEs dressage, but he's got so much heart & sensibility, I simply adore him. I love the old campaigners, racing is the hardest thing they'll ever do, if they can stay sound doing that, anything less is a walk in the park.

        edit - Look at his race record..he's obviously raced plenty. Look for any big gaps in time where he didn't race. Why hasn't he done anything in 16 months? Layup or not competitive? That would worry me a bit.. as opposed to a horse that's just coming off racing. Decide what you can live with...mine came off the track with an old bow that's never been an issue, but plenty of people would have passed on him for that. Can you bring a super soundness savvy friend to look at him with you? Watch him being ridden in both hard and soft footing.. soft tissue injuries are much more obvious in soft footing. I wouldn't worry about the unbalanced thing, they all are in the beginning, the sensation of riding a "noodle" is a bit disconcerting too..but that doesn't last for long.
        Last edited by chism; Apr. 19, 2013, 09:17 AM.
        "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville

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        • #5
          From a mental health point of view, a horse that's been at the track that long may have a harder time adjusting to a different life with completely different "busy" hours, horsekeeping routines, and losing that incredibly structured system he's lived under for years. Routine, routine, routine should be your mantra! And he may hate turnout, or not know what to do with it.
          "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive

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          • #6
            About a year and a half ago, I got an 11 year old TB off the track 6 days after his 90th race. What did I worry about? Jogging sound. As far as I'm concerned, a horse who lasts that long on the track is a solid, sound horse. He jogged sound in front of me and that was all I needed. (Horse was free. Don't know if I would've looked for more if he'd cost anything, because I wouldn't have gotten him if I had to pay for him.)

            Knock on wood, no problems (other than being accident prone).
            Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
            Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
            VW sucks.

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            • #7
              I would actually worry less about a horse that raced so much than your typical 10-12 start TB. My 21 yr old TB has 110 starts!! He is currently 100% sound with only msm as maintenance.

              He adjusted fine to his OT life, no vices except for mild wind sucking when he gets nervous or impatient, and loves his t/o time. I didn't get him until he was 5+ years off the track but I knew him since he was only a few months off. I had to work on track issues (he didn't like bumping his sides at all, would bolt if he did, and bolted if he saw a horse and rider coming towards him) but they were actually really easy fixes and he's now the best behaved horse at the barn.

              He is a really special horse, and I feel like it's an honor to have a warrior like him in my barn. He raced 1-2 races a month during his whole career, retired sound enough to be ridden and jumped daily in a lesson barn, and came to me at age 18 for a life of leisure...and some occasional trail rides. He is probably the smartest and most adaptable horse I have, a fast learner, and very people friendly.

              Some things to watch out for, any track issues will be magnified because of how long he's been raced. Issues like this can be a big deal if you're not expecting them, so be ready to correct them in a calm quiet consistent manner. Start on msm or your choice of joint maintenance to help him out. He's proved he can stay sound on the track but it never hurts to help him out! Get a PPE, it may not seem worth it considering the price of the horse, but if you find out 6 months down the line something is wrong, think about all the money you've then wasted to possibly have a pasture pet. Check out his track record and look for a consistent race pattern. Then look for any major gaps. Those are the questionable spots and if you can check the race notes (or whatever they're called) from the last race and see if anything is noted...and what he placed. Sometimes they are just giving the horse time off, sometimes they're injured. A lot of big breaks would make me concerned and I'd probably pass on the horse. What is the horse's track name? With that many starts I'd guess someone on the board knows him! A few COTHers knew my guy during his track days.
              come what may

              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

              Comment


              • #8
                My first horse was free, an OTTB with about 70 starts under his belt. I don't ever recall any lameness problems, as he had been taken care of very well during his life on the track. His mind, however, was pretty fried. He could hack for about 20 minutes, by himself only. After that he would prance and fuss and become difficult in his efforts to "do something". (We went on a small group hack once, that was a disaster and my coach had to get on and struggled to get him home.)

                He never truly settled enough to have any sort of dressage, and while he was fairly honest over fences, he would get so rev'ed up he would approach all the fences sideways, just straightening out the last stride to get over the jump.

                He was a darling, lovely to work around... just a very hot, difficult ride.
                A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing

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                • #9
                  What has he been doing for the 16 months he's been off? I always did a limited PPE on a racing warrior.

                  My last racing warrior had 91 starts, won almost $350K. After working out the sillies for a year or two and treating his ulcers, he was the calmest horse in the barn. My good old steady Eddy. You could ride him every day or just once a month...still got the same ride.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Check ankles for any filling or lumps (osselots/ringbone). Flex hocks, some arthritis is to be expected from all the wear and tear. Check knees for flexion and any swelling. After all that down time he shouldn't be sore or have stiffness if he's been turned out.

                    Like it's been said, if he's been running that many times, he's a tough tough horse. He might be a little hard mouthed and a little tougher to retrain as he'll be more set in his ways when they've been doing the same routine, day in and day out for 8 years. But the older, heavily raced horses seem to have such good minds on them. They are truly special horses, they LOVE having a job, love to work. They are often bombproof, nothing will phase them. They just seem to have a special grace and professionalism about them. I know at the track, many of the older horses were barn favorites because they had such great attitudes. One of our barn favorites was racing at 9 (his nickname was Grandpa haha) and the day somebody claimed him was the saddest day at the barn, everybody was bummed, even though he'd only been with us for less than a year. Horses come and go all the time at the track but horses like that are just special. Hope you take a chance on him! Good luck :-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The only thing I ever noticed about my OTTB's were retraining their brain for being a saddle horse. Instead of go-go-go, had to get through their noggins about pressure in the mouth means slow a bit, plus the riders legs and such.

                      But talk about being able to handle a noisy barn with kids running around and animals all over the place. Being able to pick up all four hoofies while standing on one side of the horse, very handy I might add. I never had a goofy one either, very sound and sane. Just couldn't run and I could have prolly outran them in a race.
                      GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

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                      • #12
                        And note a lot of older guys are not at all "go go go", because they got those sillies out long ago and work when asked, as much as asked, and don't tend to waste energy getting excited when they don't have to. Lucky (64 starts) is very good at doing as much as you ask of him and no more, and in fact the trainer I bought him from said gallopers liked him because "You want a slow two mile gallop, he gallops a slow two, you want a fast work, he does a fast work." Horses who have a long steady career like that don't last without a good brain and sense of self-preservation.
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                        • #13
                          Much less than I'd be worried about a 4 year old with 3 starts! He's obviously tough and built to last and has probably seen everything under the sun. He's got a work ethic, probably very business-like and shows up ready for assignments. Mine only raced 26 times, but that horse can WORK like nobody's business, no excuses.
                          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                          We Are Flying Solo

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thanks all! Horse is being looked at by a friend, not me. (Although I'm a it jealous that I'm *not* in the market after I met him, lol...) He definitely has a BTDT attitude. I think he may have been pulled out of an auction prior to his current owner having him, but he's pretty much had the last 16 month off, as far as I can tell. He's been lightly restarted and seems generally unperturbed by the world.

                            ETA, his name is "Red Dirt Road"-- I posted on the racing forum to see if anyone has heard of him. Most of his races were at Delaware Park, but he's been at quite a few different tracks.
                            *friend of bar.ka

                            "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sounds like he'll be a gem. A little time off seems to be recommended for OTTB's. My $300 mare spent the winter at my cousin's ranch before I brought her to town for her next career.

                              OTOH, I rod her her to gather cattle during her "rest". Since she'd been started at a feed lot, she was a peach around cattle. Even had a bit of "cow"!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                http://www.pedigreequery.com/red+dirt+road
                                "Oh, sure, you may be able to take down one smurf, but mark my words: You bonk one smurf, you better be ready for a blue wave."---Bucky Katt

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                                • #17
                                  He's been doing some Western, apparently:
                                  http://www.equestrianlife.com/horses/3834/Dusty/

                                  The older OTTBs are my *favorites* to own and retrain. As others have said, they have a work ethic that won't quit.

                                  They are, however (as someone pointed out above), VERY "set in their ways", so the retrainer needs to be very careful to make sure they understand what is being asked of them and why. Sometimes getting the "why" across can be difficult, and I've certainly had a few who when asked to do something a different way than the way that they know, simply started hurling TB-tude and saying "You're an IDIOT." You need to avoid that at all costs. As my favorite TB-retrainer said once, "If they're not getting it, you have to break the data into smaller chunks."

                                  Hope your friend enjoys her new horse!
                                  "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    They are, however (as someone pointed out above), VERY "set in their ways", so the retrainer needs to be very careful to make sure they understand what is being asked of them and why. Sometimes getting the "why" across can be difficult, and I've certainly had a few who when asked to do something a different way than the way that they know, simply started hurling TB-tude and saying "You're an IDIOT." You need to avoid that at all costs. As my favorite TB-retrainer said once, "If they're not getting it, you have to break the data into smaller chunks."
                                    You just made a really really excellent point. The TB-tude. I'm not sure if it happens with the "regular" OTTBS, but with every warrior I've met they have it...big time. If you can't convince them that doing something is in their best interest, you will have a 1000 lb. flying mass of horse on the end of the lead rope. They are fantastic at throwing temper tantrums and "strutting their stuff". These guys know they're awesome, they just KNOW. IMO that just makes it more fun.
                                    come what may

                                    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by SAcres View Post
                                      You just made a really really excellent point. The TB-tude. I'm not sure if it happens with the "regular" OTTBS, but with every warrior I've met they have it...big time. If you can't convince them that doing something is in their best interest, you will have a 1000 lb. flying mass of horse on the end of the lead rope. They are fantastic at throwing temper tantrums and "strutting their stuff". These guys know they're awesome, they just KNOW. IMO that just makes it more fun.


                                      I was trying to explain TB-tude the other day to someone who didn't know a lot about horses. I ended up with: "You know how when you ask your dog, 'who's the best doggie in the whole wide world?" and he jumps happily up and down going "Me, me, me, I *promise* it's me?" The guy laughed and nodded.

                                      I said, "Well, when you ask your TB who the best TB in the world is, they raise an eyebrow and glare at you and go [upper class English accent] "What a fatuous question."

                                      He got it.
                                      "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by War Admiral View Post


                                        I was trying to explain TB-tude the other day to someone who didn't know a lot about horses. I ended up with: "You know how when you ask your dog, 'who's the best doggie in the whole wide world?" and he jumps happily up and down going "Me, me, me, I *promise* it's me?" The guy laughed and nodded.

                                        I said, "Well, when you ask your TB who the best TB in the world is, they raise an eyebrow and glare at you and go [upper class English accent] "What a fatuous question."

                                        He got it.
                                        Too funny! I love it!

                                        My OTTB doesn't have quite as many miles as the one the OP is discussing, but after 29 starts in 3 years on the track, he definitely has the "been there, done that" air about him, even as a young horse by most standards. Having heard horror stories about the readjustment period without any personal experience with OTTBs prior to him, I was very pleasantly surprised at just how easy EVERYTHING has been with this horse. He adjusted immediately to his new routine and has taken everything in stride, and he is probably the most solid and sane horse I've ever worked with. I did NOT have a PPE done due to the circumstances under which I purchased him, which I realize could have been devastating, however he has proven himself to be sound over the past 16 months and I've since had my vet evaluate him thoroughly.

                                        I will caution you or your friend that the "detox" period was rough. He came to me fairly thin, and continued to lose weight for several months despite frequent, large meals in a diet prescribed by my vet. He was treated for ulcers, and had a lot of maintenence done in the first few months to bring him back to health. I was pulling my hair out for months because every day he was declining despite the effort, money and food I was pouring into him, but fortunately he finally started to blossom and is now fit and healthy and requires far less than he did to start. Perhaps this isn't unusual, but having never owned an OTTB, it was somewhat unexpected and very stressful for me!

                                        I wish you and your friend the very best. A good OTTB is an incredible horse!

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