In recent years, OTTB horses have grown in popularity, with many people choosing to take on one of these horses. But what is an OTTB horse and are they the right horse for you?
OTTB horses can be a big challenge to take on, but they can bring huge rewards over time. Let’s take a look at OTTB horses and what they are all about!
What Does OTTB Mean?
OTTB means ‘Off The Track Thoroughbred’. These are horses that have been retired from the Thoroughbred racing industry and then go on to be retrained in a new equestrian discipline. OTTB horses may have raced for years or may have never set foot on a racetrack. They may have been retired due to injury, or simply because they were not competitive or fast enough to race.
What Can OTTB Horses Be Used For?
Retrained Thoroughbreds can make exceptionally good riding horses, with many of them going on to complete at top-level competitions. Thoroughbreds are strong, fast, athletic, and have plenty of stamina – perfect for many equestrian sports!
Some of the top-level OTTB horses include:
- Blackfoot Mystery is a gelding who raced three times before being retired and retrained for eventing. He then went on to compete at the 2016 Olympics!
- Tizrobertcharles was a winner on the track but then went on to become a police horse in South Florida.
- Fighting Furrari became a movie star with the title role in ‘Seabiscuit’, and now assists children with Autism in California.
- Idle Dice was sold from the race track at the age of 4 after he proved to be unsuccessful. He went on to become a top-level showjumper, winning 31 Grand Prix titles.
However, if you’re not looking for a sporty horse, don’t rule out an OTTB as your next mount. There are plenty of Thoroughbreds out there with a calm and dependable nature – these are the ones who just didn’t want to race! Some OTTB horses can make lovely pleasure riding horses, and will quite happily stroll along trails for hours at a time.
Is It Easy To Train An OTTB Horse?
OTTB horses will have only been trained to do one thing – run as fast as possible! They are broken and trained in very different ways to conventional riding horses, and require a long period of retraining. They may not understand basic aids and need an experienced rider to help them learn what is expected of them.
When a Thoroughbred retires from the racetrack, it will be given several weeks or months to rest and relax. This is referred to as the ‘letting down’ period, and it allows the horse to unwind physically as well as mentally.
After this period, the Thoroughbred will be slowly and gently retrained to become a riding horse. How long this takes and how difficult this process varies widely according to the horse’s temperament and age.
How Much Does An OTTB Horse Cost?
Although it is possible to buy an OTTB horse privately, it is better to go through an approved organization that will have assessed and trained the horse before rehoming it.
The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has brought together a list of approved trainers for people who wish to take on an OTTB horse. These are accredited organizations that will retrain retired racehorses, and then make them available to adopt.
Adoption fees for OTTBs can range from a few thousand dollars down to just a few hundred dollars. The fee depends on a variety of factors, including the soundness, confirmation, and level of training of the horse. These organizations receive funding that allows them to keep adoption fees as low as possible, however, retraining these horses takes time and money.
By adopting a horse from an approved OTTB trainer you can be sure that the horse has been thoroughly evaluated, and the organization will try its best to match the right horse to the right home. They will also support the new owner after adoption, helping to create a successful and long-lasting partnership.
Where Can I Find an OTTB Horse For Sale?
If you don’t want to adopt an OTTB horse, you will find ex-racing Thoroughbreds for sale in the classified adverts and at horse auctions. However, a responsible racehorse trainer would always take their retired horses to an approved organization for retraining. Horses sold by other methods may be unpredictable or even suffer from long-term injury or lameness.
If you choose to buy rather than adopt an OTTB horse, make sure to get it thoroughly checked by a veterinarian first. It may sensible to ask for a trial period before committing to buy, so you can fully assess the temperament and suitability of the horse.
What Is Better – An OTTB Mare Or An OTTB Gelding?
Many of us prefer one gender of a horse to another, but they both have their advantages and disadvantages. As with all horses, many factors can affect temperament and performance, but gender does make a big difference.
Normally, riders and trainers who are looking for a sensible and predictable horse will choose a gelding. Geldings are also good for relaxing equine activities such as trail riding, happy to wander along for hours at a time. However, remember this is a Thoroughbred – you should not expect to live the quiet life with an OTTB gelding!
Mares are often chosen by riders or trainers who enjoy a challenge and a bit of ‘fizziness’. Mares are less forgiving of any mistakes, meaning the rider must concentrate at all times. And of course, with OTTB mares, we’ve got the added complications of the ever-changing hormones!
Summary- OTTB Meaning
So, as we have learned, an OTTB horse is a Thoroughbred which has retired from racing and has been retrained in a new equestrian discipline. OTTB horses can be a challenge to retrain but can become reliable and fun riding horses. Some organizations hold events and competitions for OTTB horses.
We would love to hear about your experiences with OTTB horses – have you ever owned or retrained one? Perhaps you are thinking of buying an OTTB horse but have a few questions you’d like us to answer? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!