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Business As Usual

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  • I think he's missing a very big point. I'll reiterate, it is not difficult at ALL to find a nice sound horse a home. Retraining isn't the issue at all, in my experience. Of course the super easy well-broke horses are *easier* to place, but it's the soundness that's key.


    • Wow Mr. Bob I feel bad for your horse!

      Originally posted by SwtVixen View Post
      I feel like contacting this editor and telling her that this one mans *opinion* isnt all correct, in fact very little of it is-- and to post something as damning as this when so many hard worked for efforts to promote rehoming the TB have just been put in place... is really sad and dishonorable for a HORSE magazine in this area.
      Maybe a rebuttal is in order.!
      I'm with ya Vixen and know you have WAAYYY more experience than I do. I was an exercise rider for a few months and those I rode responded just find to my legs and even turned both ways! Miracle I know right! He is mostly right about the temperament though of the specialized athlete. When I got my OTTB it had been years since I had been around any horse that hot or that fit. I was honestly scared to death of him and was lucky enough he didn't take advantage of it. Instead he matched my energy and was like "Sorry I didn't mean to scare you here I'll be the calm one I swear." But how many don't do that? How many OTTBs would you recommend to the newbie owner? (Not a fair question since there are peeps that should not own any kind of horse.) These are athletes at the top of their game and they need a knowledgeable person to handle them. (Horsemanship 101 doesn't completely cover the top athlete and his/her needs.)
      I would love to see a series of classes on the OTTB and ownership of them and for it to be really popular. Race horses are young, spoiled, coddled toddlers who suddenly find themselves in the homes of new parents who missed the baby lessons.
      Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
      Originally Posted by alicen:
      What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


      • Okay, I couldn't stand it. I sent in a letter to the editor. Sheesh.

        My letter:

        Dear editor,

        I was flummoxed by this line in Bob Wood's article: "Their fundamental lack of early basic training makes them unusable as riding horses later in their lives."

        If that were true, why are there so many great success stories about horses--even ones that raced for years and retired at 6,7, or 8, with hard claiming miles under their belts--in second careers? And how come I know so many myself, who have come from various breeding programs in various states and from a wide variety of tracks and racing levels? And how did Mr. Wood transform his own "versatile former racehorse that has also won several competitions for his students," according to Mr. Wood's author description?

        Here's how: because a substantial number, I would suggest probably a majority, of former racehorses are indeed versatile and can most certainly be retrained for other purposes. Mr. Wood would hardly have been able to retrain them for 30 years if they weren't.

        While it is certainly true that not every retired racehorse is suitable for every second career, whether because of soundness or temperament issues, it flies in the face of history and current proof to say that, simply because they have been trained only to be racehorses, these horses will be unusable for general riding. Surely Mr. Wood is aware of that long history of very accomplished horses who have transitioned from cheap, left-turning claimer to wonderful mount, some even later in their careers. Courageous Comet is a notable example but hardly the only one.

        Here in Kentucky, we see regularly former racehorses excelling in many disciplines. Quite a few foxhunt alongside my own ex-racehorse (and longtime claiming runner, retired at age seven). It takes but a click of a mouse or a visit to a local boarding barn or horse show to find countless others carrying their riders very well in the trail-riding, show-jumping, foxhunting, and eventing worlds. Stephanie Diaz recently wrote a story about Hanuman Highway, who ran until he was six and then became the 2009 Champion Left-Leader on the World Professional Chuckwagon Association circuit. He's also rideable, having started his chuck-wagon racing career as an under-saddle participant. Now THAT is versatility.

        I hope the point Mr. Wood intended to make is the common-sense one that ex-racehorses require retraining to learn their new careers, and that the newly minted rider might not be the best one to attempt that training--something that arguably is true of any horse learning any discipline. Would retraining them be easier if, before racing, they had a more thorough education in bending and being mounted at a standstill? Possibly--and a number racehorses-to-be actually do receive this kind of training at two. But the lack of it in other horses does not, perforce, make them “unusable in later life.” Instead, I would suggest that far more former racehorses are not adopted because of physical injury than because they didn't learn to be mounted at a standstill when they were being broken as yearlings. Reducing those injuries and reversing any element of the "throw-away mentality" Mr. Wood mentions are big keys in post-racing adoption success.

        There is a difference between needing new job training, as it were, and being "unusable for riding." Many, many off-the-track Thoroughbreds make the transition remarkably well, and it is a disservice to them to suggest otherwise.


        • Posting again to add that I love Leilatigress's idea about courses for the new OTTB owner!


          • Hounds...you ROCK! Excellent letter and you made every point I would make. Courageous Comet came off my local track and, in fact, I worked for a period time for his trainer, the legendary Billy Ray Strange! CC is not the only success story. Look up Lifetime Guarantee (JC name Packin' Heat) who has had fantastic success on the elite H/J circuit. The list goes on and on.

            The OTTBs who achieve success in any discipline, even quiet lives as trail horses and backyard pets, are great and multiplying. I cannot imagine why this guy would have such a dismal and contrarian attitude. He is misinformed and flat-out wrong. OTTBs have a solid and storied history of success off the racetrack.


            • Bad breakdown DE Park

              There was talk a while back of a trainer at Delaware Park acting on behalf of Gill and or DD. He had a really bad breakdown in one of the first races there today. Think the horses name was Omega Cipher. Took another horse down with it. I'm having flashbacks to Penn over the winter.

              Also, if you track the ownership of the horses, some go back to being owned/trained by DD and others were recent claims.....


              • Here's what slays me. Everybody is hoping their next racehorse is going to be just that--a successful racehorse.
                Maybe Bob needs to have reining horses trained for dressage in case their chosen career doesn't work out?
                Maybe competitive trail horses should be trained to show jump in case they just don't love doing 100 milers.


                Retraining is just that--retraining.

                Oof, i'm just getting more annoyed at his points. Like, how often do you come across a horse that JUST WONT STAND. I've had hundreds and hundreds, and never met one we couldn't convince to stand still. It's called "retraining" for a reason.


                • Mr. Wood needs retraining....

                  Hi All,
                  This article succeeds in one point - never mind the horses. It make it clear that Mr. Wood needs retraining.

                  I suggest we put him in side reins, put a severe bit in his mouth, and lunge him in small circles. It might be tough but I'm sure he'll get it eventually....but it will take him longer to understand what we want than the average Thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds are smart and want to please.


                  Am I bad?



                  • I beleive Bob frequents another horse forum, and that I've read some of his posts. He does make a few good points, but offers no realistic solutions. Maybe Bob should start making a difference by breaking babies at his farm. Then we could track their success from race horses to horses with other careers.


                    • Since that mag has repeatedly asked for my advertising space.

                      I will see if I can get some feature space about virtues of OTTB since thats all I sell n re-train.

                      Gee maybe out of the 80 or so in the last 5 years I had 1..ONE..who wouldn't stand once you sat he had to move. Funny a few didn't care for mounting block but stood to be ground mounted.
                      Wonder who picks his horses out for him???


                      • Originally posted by sjdressage View Post
                        There was talk a while back of a trainer at Delaware Park acting on behalf of Gill and or DD. He had a really bad breakdown in one of the first races there today. Think the horses name was Omega Cipher. Took another horse down with it. I'm having flashbacks to Penn over the winter.

                        Also, if you track the ownership of the horses, some go back to being owned/trained by DD and others were recent claims.....
                        Damn! We listed that horse on CANTER just a few weeks ago and he was lovely. I was hoping he would sell quick.


                        • My letter to Pa Eq

                          I take exception to your article by Bob Wood on re-training OTTB.

                          I have been involved with horses for 44 years and 30 of them with thoroughbreds.

                          For the last 5 years I solely devoted my energies to full time buying, re-schooling and VERY SUCCESFULLY selling OTTB into new careers.

                          I have any number of horse who are currently in training with some of the top names in the Eventing community with photos, new owners and competition records to back me up.

                          I also have a number of horses who are showing on the "AA" level as jumpers and some as show hunters.

                          4 are Fox Hunting 1 of those is a Masters mount in less than 2 years after racing.

                          Many go to upscale show horse trainers who continue the horses education and enjoy a re-sale of 5-6X's what they paid for horse.

                          Just this week I took Honestly Tru a OTTB from Penn Nat. once trained by Murray Rojas.
                          Tru has been with me since April, he not only w/t/c swaps his leads quietly but will jump 3'9, can pack a 12yr old girl around like an old made school horse or hacks out alone XC.He recently schooled XC Eventing fences, drops, banks, ditches, water complex and an assortment of cross county elements, alone in a huge field 1/2 mile from his trailer and friend...oh the friend another OTTB Supreme Orient also did the same being his 1st trip as well....both stood alone in a 2 horse trailer as each departed to walk away alone down a grassy track in the middle of no where. In snaffle bits no martingale or tranquilizers or babysitters needed.

                          Another excellent example Magical Gem picked up prior to the 2009 Preakness at Pimlico Racetrack, nice horse made about $300,000. (can look up record) he transitioned without missing a beat to XC hacks, paper chases, family vacations, and oh yes totally cold turkey...Civil War Re-enactment mount with in 30 days of leaving the racetrack life.

                          With very rare exception I have not had to deal with the issues Mr Wood professes to enjoy.

                          These are intelligent horses, and anyone who can endure 23 hours a day in a 12x12 space, all the commotion of race track life, stay sane and sound, most all transition exceptionally well and quickly to a new job.

                          Yes there are horses who can't don't won't but they wouldn't regardless of prior enviorment they probably predisposed temperament wise to be damaged or fragile mentally.

                          Please feel free to visit my Webb site >>>>> , feel free to call me, I have photo's and validations.
                          80 horses sold in the last 5 years alone.


                          • Racehorses are ridden (successfully) every day. If Mr. Wood thinks they're intimidating, then maybe he should learn how to ride.
                            Last edited by Las Olas; Aug. 12, 2010, 12:39 AM.


                            • I hate to sound like Parelli here (shudders), but if his horses keep saying, "Bob, you're doing it wrong" then maybe he should listen to them!

                              Some of them aren't going to be used to full weight and standing at a block but my god it doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that you don't just do those things right off the bat. Maybe he should try speaking their language for the first few rides till they get to know each other and get a line of communication going, and then introduce the new concepts? Tons of people have no problem transitioning Ottbs, save for the rare special case, so the horses are notnotNOT the problem. Are you listening Bob?
                              Please don't try to be a voice of reason. It's way more fun to spin things out of control. #BecauseCOTH - showhorsegallery


                              • Kudos to you Hound and Judybigredpony for your letters to the editor...
                                I keep writing mine .. and tossing it...and rewriting it... and well, tossing it... its not polite enough (yet). I do like the side reins idea for Bob.

                                Granted, there are those tbs a bit hot, high-strung, near melt-down levels from racing ..but a little farm life changes them rather quickly............I think those first couple weeks are the most important transition time of all...and with care taken, they adjust very well and move on into new training quite eagerly.

                                The retired tb needs all the good pr it can get.. the markets are looking in their direction again... and it may be my opinion, but I think they are the crown jewel of horses. I see more and more of them each day proving that too. I love the new promotions for Tb shows..

                                That article is just shameful.
                                Last edited by SwtVixen; Aug. 16, 2010, 07:42 AM.
                                Its not in someone elses backyard anymore....... your Pres brought it home.
                                Racing>Business As Usual @PN


                                • [QUOTE=judybigredpony;5030532]I will see if I can get some feature space about virtues of OTTB since thats all I sell n re-train.QUOTE]

                                  What about just This Months Featured Success Story?
                                  You do have plenty of material to draw from !
                                  Its not in someone elses backyard anymore....... your Pres brought it home.
                                  Racing>Business As Usual @PN


                                  • For those that are interested, Steuart Pittman of Dodon Farm has done seminars on re-training race horses and is currently setting up a website: www.retiredracehorseretraining.org It will also have sources of those people who have successfully trained racehorses for other careers.

                                    Steuart has information on his site: www.dodonfarm.com

                                    As Fairweather noted (and spoke to at length at the Safety Summit in Keeneland) the most important part of transitioning any racehorse is soundness. The more sound they are, the more options they have, the more valuable they are, and the more valuable they will become.

                                    CANTER Ohio has transitioned close to 600 CANTER owned horses. I have personally sat on at least half of them. Those with behavioral and training issues are few and far between. Most of them are simply misunderstood, and are easily corrected with time and patience. The toughest one we ever had never made it through his race training either, but was successfully placed.

                                    I think Bob needs to spend a weekend with a good trainer. When I was an exercise rider, our two year olds were hacked on the grounds, taught lead changes, could stand, back, and walk patiently to and from the racetrack. They could gallop in company or alone, work in company or alone, stood in the gate, and were taught ground manners. I would have taken any of them home, and in fact threatened to do so on many occassions.

                                    I vote to send Bob to one of Steuart's seminars. I'm going to find the next one for him.



                                    • NMK- those seminars are an excellent way to gain insight into the retraining process. CANTER took two horses- a 3 yr who was very lightly raced and a 12 yr who ran for 10yrs. Both horses went into a very packed indoor full of 200 people and showed just how smart these horses right off the track are.

                                      The 12yr (Top Punch) acted like he had been horse showing for years. Absolutely nothing fazed him and he jumped around the jumps on a loose rein and was his typical quiet self.
                                      jumping- http://www.flickr.com/photos/1183341...7622517075234/

                                      The 3yr (Escape by Sea) came in a bit looky but I put her to work and she was already showing that she understood contact, bending, moved off the leg and was very trusting in the rider.

                                      She had only jumped a few times but went in there and jumped her first rolltop!

                                      Mr. Woods is sorely mistaken if he thinks these horses aren't trained. I find that most of them are so smart they figure out their new careers very quickly. Perhaps he is the one who needs more understanding.


                                      • Kudos to Judybigredpony, too, for writing in, and I hope you all will send in your letters as well. What I find really peculiar is that Wood is in Pennsylvania, one of those places that historically has had, and still has, a good sense of the all-around virtues of the Thoroughbred and that has good horsemen who are excellent at transforming former Flat horses into steeplechasers, foxhunters, show horses, etc.

                                        Sure, it would be NICE if every horse in the world got a liberal-arts education, but, like FairWeather said, why would anyone want or really need to do that? And if you train a yearling to stand while you're breaking it, what makes Wood think that training won't get erased by the conditioning at the racetrack, where they're often mounted on the walk?

                                        It just aggravates me that he seems to believe Thoroughbreds can't easily learn and relearn at what he apparently considers the ancient age of, like, five. When his own activities as a re-trainer apparently repeatedly have shown him that they can.

                                        It would be far, far better if people focus on reducing injuries and harmful practices so more of these horses might retire in useful sound condition.

                                        I know we're all saying the same thing here, but the mind just boggles.


                                        • My letter is going to be in the next issue, I just recieved word from PA Eq this AM...............

                                          DoDon's clinics are excellant, I've sold OTTB to his students and filled out the form to be in his directory.