As a trainer, coach and competition rider for many years I have to say, I believe we have been well served by the OTTB, especially in Australia, and I am happy to support as much information getting out there as possible about dealing with and retraining the Off The Track Thoroughbred.
In many ways they are worldly when they arrive off the track. They have done so much and seen so much and handled so much more than a non-TB horse six months in from the breakers. Often their lack of racing ability has more to do with the industry’s expectations than their own athleticism or willingness to try, and the racing industry’s rejection is very often their loss and our gain!
OTTBs generally have a willing work ethic, love to be part of a daily riding regime and thrive on all the attention that entails. They will wait at the paddock gate every morning to greet you especially if you have a headcollar in hand, and we’ve all had other breeds who are not that cheerful about being ridden – especially “forward”! lol…
In the days or months after their track retirement, they begin to learn to let down, to be less reactive, to have sounder bodies with less daily stress and discomfort, to look forward to quiet patient riding having new skills shown to them, to engage with their riders in a process that is often more personal. They are smart and they are tough. They are athletic and once retrained can usually turn their hoof to many disciplines and can excel in eventing, show jumping, pony club and polo. Those riders who’ve got one, know Thoroughbreds can be great fun.
As a horse community I’d like to think we could support the OTTBs in any way we can especially in riding and competing one if possible. Of course they’re not for everyone but it’s time the OTTB became a more popular riding horse because their alternative is less attractive, so let’s do our bit! I support people like Denny Emerson who uses FB to promote the retraining of OTTBs – see Tamarack Hill Farm. Please feel free to check out the following information – https://eventingconnect.today/2017/08/13/things-you-need-to-know-before-riding-a-fresh-off-the-track-thoroughbred/