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What Is an OTTB Horse? How To Retrain an Ex Racehorse

May 13, 2024

Diving into the world of ex racehorses, or OTTBs, isn’t just about finding a new ride – it’s about discovering a bond. You’re not just gaining a partner; you’re gaining a friend. So let’s dive into it…

What does OTTB mean?

The terms “OTTB”, “Off The Track” & “Ex Racehorse” refers to racehorses that have completed their official racing careers and are now retired. These horses, with their exceptional athleticism and training, transition seamlessly into new roles outside of racing. They embark on a second career that showcases their versatility and adaptability!

Off The Track Racehorses, also known as Ex Racehorses or Off the Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs), are making a remarkable impact in the equestrian sport. These incredible athletes, once retired from their racing careers, are finding new purpose in various equestrian disciplines. From dressage and showing, to show jumping and eventing, these horses are achieving in their second careers from grass roots competition all the way to the Olympics and World Championships.

What to consider if you want to purchase an OTT Horse for your equestrian pursuits?

When considering purchasing an Off The Track Horse for equestrian sports, there are several factors to keep in mind:

1. Health and Soundness of the OTT Horse 

It is essential to assess the horse’s overall health and soundness. Look for any signs of past injuries or underlying health issues that may affect their performance or long-term well-being. Asking the trainer for a full history of the horse’s racing career can assist with this research and even requesting a look over by an independent vet can be beneficial.

2. How is the Horse’s Temperament and Trainability?

Evaluate the horse’s temperament and trainability. Off The Track Horses come with different levels of experience. Ensure that the horse has a willingness to learn, adapt, and work well with riders and trainers. Observe how they react while in the stables, around other horses and as you approach them. If it is safe to do so, it can be a good idea to take them for a walk outside in the surroundings, away from the other horses and even doing some basic handling exercises to see what their responses are like.

3. The Retraining Potential of Your New Horse 

Consider the horse’s retraining potential for the specific equestrian discipline you are interested in. Ask yourself what would you like to achieve with this horse? What training and experience do they already have? Are you equipped with experience and support to take on this horse?

Assess the horse’s movement, conformation, and natural abilities that align with the desired discipline. Trainers, grooms and riders that work with the horses daily can give you some suggestions, observations and advice for what they think might be most suitable for each horse.

4. Consider Professional Assistance When Evaluating an OTT Horse 

It can be wise to seek professional guidance and assistance when evaluating an OTT Horse. An experienced trainer, re-trainer or equine professional such as a vet can provide valuable insights and help assess the horse’s suitability for your goals and personal circumstances.

5. Be Aware of the Transition Period 

Understand that the transition from the race track to a new career will require time, patience and training expertise. Allow for a proper adjustment period when the horse arrives in your care and consider working with trainers who specialize in retraining OTT Horses, being patient with the re-training process and utilizing the support around you.

The Impact of OTT(B)s in the Equestrian Sport

Everywhere in the world we refer to these beautiful creatures in different ways – whether you call them ex-racehorses, OTT, OTTB or just horses, they are dominating the equestrian industry, showcasing their talent and versatility in a range of disciplines. Their ability to adapt to new environments and learn new skills is truly remarkable. These horses bring a wealth of experience, athleticism, and a strong work ethic to their new careers, as well as loving, caring bonds with their riders, grooms and support systems.

As of 2024, Thoroughbred horses competing in the Olympic games will be recognized in the starting and result lists. Previously they were just stated as “breeding unknown”. So they are definitely starting to make their mark in the sport!

Amanda Ross and her OTTB horse Romeo.

Want More Guidance on How To Retrain Your OTT Horse?

There’s a brand new Training Program in Ridely featuring OTT retraining! Leading the way in the OTT space is Australian Eventer, Show Jumper and Dressage Rider, Amanda Ross. Amanda is an Olympic Eventing Rider, World Cup Show Jumper and FEI Dressage Rider; with a resume like that this is a program you do not want to miss! 

The ‘Off The Track and Into the Arena’ Training Program guides you through the process of bringing your OTT home, the training process from the ground, in the arena as well as getting out and about. Amanda has a strong passion for horses off the track and has thoroughly enjoyed training and competing her team of horses who a lot have been exactly that, Off The Track!

  • Train with 11+ Olympians from home.
  • Learn and make the most of your equestrian life.

Learn from Carl Hester in Ridely!

Exclusive training videos with top trainers and riders like Carl Hester are available in the Ridely library. Don’t miss out!