Off The Track Thoroughbreds often get bad names, for being 'nutty'. If you have an OTTB you'll know this is far from the truth. In fact, my OTTB has taught me to be a better rider, heres how.
I have had my OTTB for several years now. I got her after my horse at the time had a brutal trailering accident severing her ligament. She was a gorgeous Percheron/Thoroughbred, but for whatever reason we never fully bonded. I decided to sell her after her recovery and look for a new prospect. My coach at the time showed me an OTTB that needed work, TLC and some weight gain. I went for it. This was my first time owning an off the track Thoroughbred so I really didn't know what to expect.
Cora or Fairchilds Creek, was born in March 2001, she raced at Woodbine and Fort Erie, never placing higher than 3rd. Not quite fast enough for the racing industry, but perfect for me.
I have shown Cora jumpers in the Trillium circuit, she has been on Hunter Paces and we've Fox Hunted once before. She is a lovely mare.
Many people assume because these horses have raced they are nutty. It's not true. My OTTB can be hot at times, but it keeps me on my toes. She is also very sensitive. Cora teaches me every time we ride. She picks up on the smallest things. At times I do wonder, it would maaaybee be nice to just hop on and go for a relaxed leisurely ride. But, more often than not I think of the positives. She challenges me and we learn together. Cora has a super soft mouth, I am in the process of testing out a few different bits..suggestions are welcome. Right now she is using a simple egg butt snaffle. I'm likely going to switch her to a rubber bit. Regardless, my point is she teaches me to continue to be soft in my hands. Many horses prefer a rider with soft hands and I don't blame them. She teaches me to be light in the saddle. If you have a poor seat or are thumping down on her back after a jump, good luck you will need it! She responds to very small pressure on the leg, if you ask her to canter without your outside leg positioned right she will pick up the wrong lead. A tad annoying? Yes, but I am reminded ( by her no doubt ) to pay attention and ride properly. These are all qualities in a horse that I admire. There's nothing worse than getting on a horse that really doesn't pay attention to your aids and cues. I often ride other peoples horses for them and having my own horse teach, test and remind me of my responsibility as a rider prepares me for any horse I jump on.
The lessons Cora has taught me go beyond riding. As I mentioned above, one of my horses years ago had a traumatic trailering accident. I was in my low teens at the time and became timid of the trailer. Horses can sense if you are worried or nervous, but I had a tough time overcoming these fears. Believe it or not, my OTTB helped me gain my trailering confidence back. She is so calm in our little two horse trailer I learnt through her. I trailered her every week to lessons and on weekends to shows when I was competing with her. I didn't know this at the time but she has been exactly what I needed. She's kind, smart and trusting. It's funny how one may think they have so much to teach a horse, when in reality they probably have a lot to teach you as well.
If you are struggling with your OTTB - instead of trying so hard to 're-train' them think about what you are doing as a rider & you might find that they're showing you areas of improvement.