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How's the market for retrained OTTBs?

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  • How's the market for retrained OTTBs?

    Indulge me for a moment, if you will...

    I can't stop looking at the CANTER sites and falling in love with pretty much all of them... but especially a few who I am itching to get my little hands on! I know quite a few people get horses from CANTER and retrain/resell them, and eventually I'm going to head back to the farm to probably take over management etc so... how are you all finding the market? Assuming I can get them out to a few shows etc, and put some quality training on them.

    Are people less inclined to take OTTBs than warmbloods or other crosses? Who is your typical client- if there is one? Is the market for OTTBs better in rural areas than, oh, lower NY state or so? Price range, say a year off the track with some show mileage?

    Sorry if this is a stupid question (or impossible to answer), but my little fantasy won't go away! Any input is appreciated
    The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~ Arabian Proverb

  • #2
    Depends a lot on where you are, who you know, and luck

    And your eye for the prospect to start with Sometimes the impressive and pretty ones are more of a gamble than something plainer that has a really good brain.

    Also I find eventers much more interested in TB prospects than the H/J crowd - it's not a slight at all, it's just, I think, trends in the different disciplines. At all levels in eventing, you see TBs doing really well. In hunters, I think there's a definite trend towards the WBs, unless it's a really outstanding individual.

    From a resale perspective, I think one of the things I'd have issues with is size limitations. A lot of the BEST horses I've sat on over the last year have been smaller, and all the ones I REALLY like at the track right now are under 15.3.

    I think it's doable if you have a good eye, space/facilities (I like the letdown period - I swear if you give them a few months they come to work so much more relaxed and ready to go!), etc.

    Then again, the limited sales experience I have is with horses in a program, and I think that tends to skew things a little bit (we get what we get, many of the things you'd look for in a project we don't have the luxury of picking, and then there's some bias that surely there must be problems with them, etc).
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.


    • #3
      I love 'em! But definitely don't see many of them. I think I ride one of three (out of 30) OTTB's at my H/J barn.

      I think if you want the experience of training one, doing some showing and selling, go for it. I just wouldn't expect one to fetch a huge sum of money like some of the WB's do.


      • #4
        Be careful getting them from a rescue for reselling, many times they have contracts that you cannot resell.
        Equine Massage Therapy Classes and Rehab for Horses


        • #5
          Originally posted by piccolittle View Post
          Indulge me for a moment, if you will...

          Is the market for OTTBs better in rural areas than, oh, lower NY state or so? Price range, say a year off the track with some show mileage?
          Are you in NY State? In Gotham City I often find myself riding OTTBs who have been relegated to being school horses -- and galloping past WB owners who probably wonder why they didn't get a smaller, lighter, and more forward horse.
          "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."


          • #6
            Have you checked out this blog? It is one of my favorites and gives good insight into the rehabbing, retraining and reselling of the average OTTB.


            With Finger Lakes so nearby, around here there are a lot of local trainers that will go and buy a horse for $600, throw 2 weeks of rides on it immediately, and resell it to some unsuspecting ammie for 2-4k. But IMO it is really sad, because the horses don't get the time and attention they really need.

            That said, I do know some pros who have an amazing eye and the resources and contacts to rehab them, restart them, and get them in front of the right buyers to make a profit, and do the whole thing in a manner in which the horse's best interest comes first.

            If you're an average joe and going to do it right-- give them some time off, get them the vet, farrier, dentist, chiro they need, start them back slow, maybe hit a few shows etc. I'm not sure you'll really make money at resale unless you have a really exceptional animal.
            We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


            • #7
              Originally posted by MassageLady View Post
              Be careful getting them from a rescue for reselling, many times they have contracts that you cannot resell.
              If she's looking at CANTER sites, that's generally not a problem since they aren't a rescue. Most CANTER horses come directly from the trainer.
              According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


              • #8
                This is an extremely good question

                You need to take a hard look at your selling contacts and ability.

                You need to also think about how fast you can or want to convert your average OTTB into something marketable.

                You need to look around at what's being shown and admired near you. I'd look at rated and unrated H/J shows (at least two divisions and maybe the little ones) and also events.

                Then, above all, buy a good mind. The horse many people can ride will be the better investment. Don't be afraid of buying the slightly hotter one destined for the jumper ring or eventing world, but know you'll have to get it really broke so that no one thinks it's mind is bad. It will have a smaller market.

                Check out it's racing history-- no long gaps in there-- and vet the snot out of it, retaining the radiographs. That will insure you'll have a horse that can pass a PPE whether that's done sooner or later. Look for one that did almost nothing and has clean legs, or the one that stayed ridiculously sound for a long career on the track.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat


                • #9
                  That is a loaded question It all depends on what market you are trying to target. It has been my experiences that those who are experienced enough to ride the hotter types can find them on their own and don't want to pay for the mileage you have put in. If you find something truly talented but complicated to ride (say talented but spooky or hot) you could be holding that horse for a long time waiting for that right person to come along.

                  Personal opinion but most ammy's want something "pretty." Dark bay's with white, greys or something really flashy will draw them in even if the horse isn't all that. It really tends to blow my mind how people will overlook things just to buy a pretty horse. I actually have to turn people away from certain horses..this horse IS NOT right but they want it so badly.

                  Under 16 h is a deal breaker. I sell a lot of horses and selling the smaller horses is really tough again finding that rare person who knows they don't need such a big horse. Mares under 16h..well those are really tough!

                  My suggestion to people is to write down your plans on paper and write out the cost. The most money is to be made if you buy cheap say under $1500 and sell within 3-6 months. However, right now a TB with 3-6 months of training on it must be pretty nice to sell for a decent profit. It is hard to make a quality horse in that amount of time that has enough training for an ammy to ride so you have to hope it is quiet and easy enough that is comes along really quickly in those 3-6 months that anyone can ride it.

                  If your buying something right off the track you are looking at 2 months of down time..yes not all of them need down time but some do. Then you are looking at cost for dentist, farrier, chiro, extra feed, millions of trips off the farm to get mileage and much more. Add all of that up and you see there is not a lot of profit.

                  Again just my personal opinion but Tb's are not popular anymore and there are less and less people who are being taught to ride Tb's and bring them along. They want the made product and taking a horse from track to a made horse takes years not months. Years = money

                  Any injuries, vices, habits or behavior really limits the pool of buyers. Buying straight from the track leaves a lot of these things an unknown. A full vetting of feet, ankles and knees is going to cost upward of $1k. I recommend it if you plan on putting a lot of time and getting a good resale value on a horse. Very frustrating to put in a lot of work and find something a few months down the road that is a deal breaker on a pre purchase.

                  The biggest thing that I have learned in the resale game is to buy what will sell and what other people can ride. So what if I like a hotter type of horse that is really sensitive. Not many other people do. I will not even consider the horse for resale if it is not a 16 h gelding that is pretty with no vices, no soundness issues and quiet tempermant that leads it to be ammy friendly. I work with a lot of the CANTER horses and some of them we end up having for a long time because that don't fit that criteria even though they are perfectly lovely horses. I find that I have to go out and spend a ton of money competing them to get people to believe they are worthy of buying. Of course then I run into the but this horse is owned by a rescue and should be cheap issue.

                  I don't do much resale for myself anymore because I don't like the pressure it puts on to get a finished product. I want to take my time and do it right and when you need to make money time is not your friend.
                  Last edited by Jleegriffith; Apr. 2, 2010, 04:02 PM.


                  • #10
                    I agree with Jleegriffith. The market is soft right now and tb's can be especially tough to sell with their ottb rep. i would look towards a quieter type horse that people can hop on and ride whenever. i had people come to try out my quiet little paint gelding that had no idea how to ride(altho they said they had years of experience). I had some great buttons on him and I found most of them were wasted on people who came to try him. I was happy he was very quiet after the 3rd person kicked him in the back end just getting on! I was so disgusted with the poor riding that I almost didn't sell him because i liked him too much. Best of luck in whatever you decide!


                    • #11
                      Selling ANY horse in this market is going to be tough, so I would not buy with that in mind unless you can afford to keep the horse AND campaign it for a while.

                      If the market were better, I would say that any well-trained horse, of sound body and mind who was showing successfully at his or her job would be rather easy to sell. I prefer more "blood" in my horses, so I ride mostly TB's and WB crosses. I rarely take the papers along for the ride
                      Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
                      W. C. Fields


                      • #12
                        We had one that won in adult division in A and AA shows. He was very typey and I have to say that at VT Summer Vestival a few yrs back, there were very few like him. If there were TBs, they were bigger bodied homebreds or had WB looks.He had a lovely jump but was not a lovey guy. We had difficulty selling because of that and the market had grown so strong for WBs. At least for rated shows.


                        We had a couple of OTTBs before him but never one that had the style to be really competitive.
                        Good luck


                        • #13
                          Wouldn't take on a strictly resale project right now...not even a WB.

                          Even when the market recovers a bit more (it is already a little better), buyers want something they don't have to pay for more training on or spend all of their free time making one up fror the next year.

                          You have to market what the majority of buyers are looking for-that is going to be a well broke gelding about 15.3 to 16.3, 6 to 9 years old with mileage over fences at horse shows.

                          The knock on the OTTBs has nothing to do with breed preference, it's that they need let down, sometimes vet help and "detox" and then retraining. Not a quick flip prospect you can make money with.

                          If you want to try, pick an OTTB that fits the mold of what buyers want to buy. They are out there.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          • #14
                            Well, you know what Ted says: "Once you have an OTTB, you never go back."

                            We have a delightful mix of breed and breed crosses at our barn, and they are all individuals. But for me, personally - you can't beat an OTTB.
                            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
                              .... But for me, personally - you can't beat an OTTB.
                              Great, I like them too. But OP asked about getting one from something like Canter (right off the track) specifically as a resale.

                              Unless she has a year or so to get it let down and well started retraining wise, it will be hard to find somebody who wants to buy it.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks for all the input, guys! So I guess the market is as I expected... I guess it's a silly dream but it would have been a way for me to work out my "pony collector" impulses while helping some of these guys into a new life. Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near a trainer. Amateur through and through. So I would have to add professional training costs onto all of that.

                                Because of that, I would only go for the ones who are DEAD super quiet. The ones who would be okay for me to get on and keep in work. My priorities are definitely quietness, soundness, and conformation. I would also have to resist my crazy love for 15.2hh chestnut mares!

                                I'd really only be able to do something like this in a few years' time. The only thing I'd be looking for would be to recoup my investment.

                                What are the kind of people you get in to look at OTTBs? Pony club, local show kids, re-riders?
                                The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~ Arabian Proverb


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                  Great, I like them too. But OP asked about getting one from something like Canter (right off the track) specifically as a resale.

                                  Unless she has a year or so to get it let down and well started retraining wise, it will be hard to find somebody who wants to buy it.
                                  And I am no young spring chicken - so, depending upon where I am when it comes time, it is highly likely I would prefer an OTTB who's a bit past the track. That way I could have my cake and eat it too.
                                  a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by piccolittle View Post
                                    I'd really only be able to do something like this in a few years' time. The only thing I'd be looking for would be to recoup my investment.

                                    What are the kind of people you get in to look at OTTBs? Pony club, local show kids, re-riders?

                                    Ehhhh.....get the notion people care much what the horse did in the past out of your head. They care what the horse is doing RIGHT NOW. I know somebody that is a 3rd generation trust fund baby who bought an OTTB...but based on the fact it was a successful Junior Hunter, not it's track past. Get it going well in the ring and anybody might buy it.

                                    The problem with those you mentioned, Pony Club, local kids and some re riders? No money. They are not going to recoup your investment in buying one and carrying it for long enough to get it sold.

                                    So pick the right horse. The one buyers would want-the 15.3 to 16.3 gelding...and he should be a nice color, maybe some chrome, and pretty. Because that is what people want.

                                    Say it again and again, in the Hunter or Jumper ring, what they were and who their parents were can pale compared to what they are doing NOW.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                    • #19
                                      Just for comparison sake, here is mine.


                                      He has been tried one time since I decided to sell him in August. Granted, he hasn't been marketed heavily, but the market is quite slow.
                                      You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.


                                      • #20
                                        I have a lovely show horse who is an OTTB, (and an elderly retiree who taught me a bunch!) but he is the exception to the rule for TBs in the H/J world. He is a jumper with a hunter jump and canter, but mind of a jumper. Were he a little calmer, he'd be a stellar eq horse. I know of only 1 OTTB hunter, myself, who was a successful A-circuit hunter.

                                        OTTBs do well with the eventer crowd. That being said, there are SO many TBs out there for little or no money (see www.tbfriends.com), and they do not have resale value, at least out here. Get one for yourself to enjoy and love and show; they are wonderful, athletic, smart, all heart and love you to death. Just don't expect to retrain and flip them for cash.

                                        On another note, Vitamin B crumbles works wonders for calming them.