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converting race horse straight off the track to pleasure horse

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  • #21
    Just my quick two cents, having bought and re-trained a total of 1 OTTB.

    My mare was also 6 when I got her straight off the track. I agree with the time off. I used the first 2ish months to get to know her, start building a rapport, and start on leading/groundwork stuff. During that time-off period and before you begin any re-training, check out this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Track-R...+the+racehorse

    It was the best $25 I ever spent with this mare.

    I used a plain D snaffle on her and still use it today. It's fairly close to the racing D's they run some TBs in, so I've been told that a lot of them tend to be comfortable in it (but not all of them!).

    I also *completely* agree with finding a good trainer who's knowledgeable in OTTB re-training! I feel that was the key to success with the re-training of my girl. My trainer was a great resource any time I had a question, and I took at least weekly lessons with that trainer once my mare was going under saddle.

    Best of luck, and congrats on the new horse!
    ~*~*~*~Founding member of the Spotted Saddlebred Pals Clique~*~*~*~

    The equine love of my life: Gabriel
    4/6/1993 - 8/23/2015 ...RIP my big, beautiful boy <3

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    • #22
      You do need to start everything over - groundwork, lightness in hand, all your messages, because at the track they just don't have the time to develop the finess we ask for.

      They have also never had a leg on them, and we cannot expect them to understand that. Pulling for them is normal in a race - they can tolerate a lot -and we want them light.

      They have an inborn competitive spirit. Even trail riding demands that the TB is up front. Need to practice riding at the back, beside and ahead, at several different speeds.

      But there's nothing like a TB for heart and desire.
      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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      • #23
        Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
        You do need to start everything over - groundwork, lightness in hand, all your messages, because at the track they just don't have the time to develop the finess we ask for.
        I do disagree with this. When my horse came off the track he was an absolute professional when it came to ground manners. Whoever handled him, handled him well. His ground manners honestly got worse as he matured, I think partially because I had him in a boarding barn where the staff wasn't always very competent.

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        • #24
          Well, obviously, not ALL of them. But a good few are quite strong with all the adrenalin pounding. Being light makes a horse a pleasure and safe to be around. You don't have to agree; I don't know the horse.
          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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          • #25
            Why would they have adrenalin pounding? I assume she just wants to mosey around not race the horse.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home

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            • #26
              I think it's smart to start from the ground up and assume the horse knows nothing. Most racehorses got nothing more than a crash course in basic training, and there are gaps that need to be filled in and worked on. You can breeze through the stuff the horse does good at and work on things they need to know more of before moving on to bigger things. Otherwise those gaps are going to come out in the training and you'll be constantly backtracking to fix them. Some horses it might take a day, others it might take months

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              • #27
                OP I think the bigger question here is WHY did you get an OTTB and a green 6 yr old?
                Is this your first horse, do you board or have horse at home and just how much do you really know about horse ownership?

                These are important questions...If you are a novice and bought an OTTB because its the new "In" thing right now perhaps it's best if you send the horse to. Professional..one you research has good reputation and will teach you as well as the horse..Or re think this whole idea and maybe go with something older and more broke.....

                You have a lot of good advice on this board and this was your first post??
                ...

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                • #28
                  I think you need to step back and get some help from a professional in evaluating if you have an appropriate horse for your level of experience and your goals. A lot of TBs can become nice pleasure horses, but some are super hot and even a struggle for professionals to work with. There's no guarantee that you have purchased a horse suitable for your goals, and based on your post it sounds like you are a novice, so I think it would be wise for you to enlist the help of a good pro in figuring out if this is a good match, before you or the horse get scared/hurt/fed-up.
                  There is no such thing as a "TB bit". If you can't control her, there are bigger problems here. If she just came off the track she may be on Winstrol or Equipoise and need some time to get that out of her body, which could take a month or more. If she's 6 she is far from green to handling, so she should not be that difficult on the ground unless she was just moved to your farm, has a difficult temperament, or you aren't handling her appropriately.
                  Please get help from a pro. It will save you money and frustration in the long run.
                  Good luck!
                  As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                    Why would they have adrenalin pounding? I assume she just wants to mosey around not race the horse.
                    You never know what the horse's "triggers" may be. One memorable OTTB mare that I rehabbed would go nuts when she heard the footfalls of another horse cantering! It took me a while to figure out what it was and then desensitize her to it. Apparently, when she heard another horse cantering her brain went, "Wait for me!" I started to longe her near other horses that were cantering at home and at shows and it took her some time before she ignored it.
                    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                      You never know what the horse's "triggers" may be. One memorable OTTB mare that I rehabbed would go nuts when she heard the footfalls of another horse cantering! It took me a while to figure out what it was and then desensitize her to it. Apparently, when she heard another horse cantering her brain went, "Wait for me!" I started to longe her near other horses that were cantering at home and at shows and it took her some time before she ignored it.
                      Ok, I guess I will give you that but the post made it sound like there was always adrenalin pounding so they were always ready to explode. Thankfully I don't think that is physically possible but even if it were you would think the horse would adjust to that level of adrenalin.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home

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                      • #31
                        OK - what the post was supposed to convey was that at the track there is a lot of adrenalin pounding and horses get strong...and it takes a while for that
                        to lessen. Just commenting on the need for the break and to start from square one and see how things go.

                        There is the odd amazing tb - I'm watching one now from the track and hope he can go all the way - he just takes everythingin stride, is so bold, so brave
                        and willing. Nothing fazes him and he was headed to slaughter.
                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Bacchus View Post
                          danceronice, you really disagree with this? Do you not give OTTBs time off? Do you not start with groundwork? Do you not start them with a basic snaffle until you know them better?
                          I don't "do" groundwork other than walking on the lead line. Had one clinic the BO talked me into, the groundwork portion was a total waste of time. AFTER I'd had him over a year, I've done SOME longing in side reins to work on his 'bad' directrion and head, but very little as that's a lot of stress on the joints. Lucky had time off (because I was the only one making decisions) in the sense he got groomed, and handwalked, and massage, and tack-fitting and walking in tack, old OTTB was doing 2'6" courses after six weeks (H/J trainer who sold him to me.) I tried a snaffle, then switched to a Pelham pretty fast, then a mullen-mouth snaffle, still monkeying with that as he doesn't like ANYTHING and I begin to see why they ran him in a tongue tie and ring bit.

                          As FineAlready says, most racehorses know what a chain's for. I don't even have to put pressure on it, he knows what it's there for. TBs are not green, dumb, unridden, or unhandled. Treating them like babies who's never been taught anything is counterproductive. I've never needed anything other than a leather halter and a shank to do anything (other than a dressage whip to tap him on the butt until he was more annoyed by that than reluctant to load. However, he is a passive resister, not an active resister.) I very deliberately opted to act with him as if he would do what I expected (especially on the ground) if I didn't make a huge production number of it, and funnily enough, that worked better than fussing and "groundworking" and constantly messing with making him move his feet. BO, with little prior TB experience, treated him like a horse who was seven years old and handled since birth, same response-he cooperated just fine. Can't say if that would work for the OP's mare, because I'm not there, any more than I can say a jointed snaffle is the right bit because "all" TBs should go in one (I can't even say where mine IS right now, I haven't used it in so long.)

                          They are not babies. They have been handled all their lives, far more than most horses used for show and pleasure, who are babied along far too long IMO. Why would you start them as if they'd never seen a halter before? I fussed a bit before getting on Lucky (as I didn't want to "rush" him) before I realized he had been ridden for six years at that point--just getting on him was not going to surprise him. And as I now know how racehorses are mounted, ridden, the difference in how they use the bit and how they're exercised, I wasn't surprised by how he responded to things.
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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                            OK - what the post was supposed to convey was that at the track there is a lot of adrenalin pounding and horses get strong...and it takes a while for that
                            to lessen. Just commenting on the need for the break and to start from square one and see how things go.

                            There is the odd amazing tb - I'm watching one now from the track and hope he can go all the way - he just takes everythingin stride, is so bold, so brave
                            and willing. Nothing fazes him and he was headed to slaughter.

                            What barns are you hanging around where the adrenalin is constantly pumping? My horses could pass as show horses in the barns and on easy days.

                            "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester

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                            • #34
                              There are two OTTB trainers in my area. If you are in Calif. I can provide contact information.

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                              • #35
                                Does anyone find it interesting OP has not a single comment to add to all of this advice she solicited?

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                                • #36
                                  I don't hang around barns; my father had racehorses before I was born...
                                  read my post again and try and see what I'm saying...
                                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                                    I don't hang around barns; my father had racehorses before I was born...
                                    read my post again and try and see what I'm saying...

                                    I did read your post, I think I get what you are trying to say, but that doesn't mean I agree. Oh well, I think the point of this thread has been made. Danceronice told it like it is, I don't understand why people are so scared of racehorses..

                                    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester

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                                    • #38
                                      OP, get advice and guidance from someone who knows retraining OTTB's. Clearly there are several points of view, some advise lots of down time, others say get them right into their new job. Sometimes the horse will tell the trainer what they need, but it takes a trainer (or experienced ammy) with a keen sense of interpret the horse.

                                      TB's at the track are not fire breathing dragons. They are horses that are trained but with a different skill set. In some cases,what as seen as bad behavior (not standing at mounting) is because of how they are trained. Racehorses have a rider tossed up at the walk or even jog. They are not taught "mounting etiquitte. TB's at the track don't get crosstied so people think they are nuts when the break the ties. They are used to a leather halter and chain shank. I have seen very few horses at the track without a chain over the nose. It's what TB's are used to.
                                      If your horse is a bully on the ground it may be because she has been handled only by experienced horsemen and she senses that she may have your number. She may be in need of time off and that's her way of telling you that something hurts or isn't right. TB's typically go through a muscle remodeling as they lose racing muscles and replace them with riding horse muscles. They need to learn to balance at slow speeds and how to carry themselves without leaning on your hands.
                                      Bitting (which IMO is an issue for down the road) is important because the worst thing you can do with an OTTB is pull. Just using more bit because the horse is leaning or forward with not work. She will need to learn to carry herself at your pace and a harsher bit won't teach her anything.
                                      F O.B
                                      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                                        ...

                                        TBs are not green, dumb, unridden, or unhandled. Treating them like babies who's never been taught anything is counterproductive. ...

                                        They are not babies. They have been handled all their lives, far more than most horses used for show and pleasure, who are babied along far too long IMO. ... I fussed a bit before getting on Lucky (as I didn't want to "rush" him) before I realized he had been ridden for six years at that point--just getting on him was not going to surprise him. And as I now know how racehorses are mounted, ridden, the difference in how they use the bit and how they're exercised, I wasn't surprised by how he responded to things.
                                        Exactly. Think what they've done before you got them. The average OTTB has been more places and seen more stuff than they're given credit for. I mean, they've been in a starting gate. What could be scarier than that?
                                        madeline
                                        * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Angelico View Post
                                          Danceronice told it like it is, I don't understand why people are so scared of racehorses..
                                          Because a lot of riders go right from a 26 year old school horse on whom they have been taking lessons or part-leased to a 3 or 4 year old OTTB that they have adopted as a rescue. These riders would be unsuited to a 3 or 4 year old horse of any kind, let alone one that is a fit athlete that may have "baggage."

                                          As the OP is learning from this thread, it is not just a matter of the right bit, and bingo, you have yourself a pleasure horse.
                                          "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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