Is an OTTB a Good Fit for Your Next Horse?

July 26, 2022 3 min read

Off-the-track thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are growing in popularity. They are athletic, intelligent, and well-suited for various disciplines. OTTBs can be an excellent option for your next horse, but they’re not for every rider.

Things to Consider with OTTBs

There’s a lot to love about OTTBs. And there’s something special about giving a retired racehorse an opportunity for a new career. The following are some benefits and potential concerns of purchasing an OTTB.


  • OTTBs are natural-born athletes. Because of this, they excel at many other equestrian sports.
  • Racehorses see a lot on the track. Between the loud cheers on race day and the everyday chaos of a racing barn, OTTBs are naturally exposed to many experiences.
  • OTTBs aren’t very expensive. If you’re looking for your next horse on a budget and need a horse with some training and natural talent, an ex-racehorse could be a great fit!

 Potential Concerns

  • The transition off the racetrack can be challenging. You can expect an OTTB to have a lot of energy and be unsettled when you first bring one home. We recommend our Smart Therapuetic Poll Pad which can harmonize bodily functions safely and naturally stimulating recovery time, promoting blood circulation, increasing oxygen flow, and ultimately reducing pain and stiffness.
  • OTTBs are not used to being turned out. They are used to being ridden, hot walked, or raced for short periods. Other than that, they’re kept in a stall.
  • They likely have never been exposed to cross-ties or other normal barn things. Grooming and giving your OTTB a lot of attention will probably be a new experience for them.
  • Racing Thoroughbred from a young age can be hard on their bodies. As a result, they are prone to getting injured.

What Kind of Rider Are You?

Experience Level

It’s essential to consider your experience level. OTTBs are generally not a great match for a beginner or inexperienced rider. Do you feel confident enough to teach an OTTB the basics all over again? You’ll have to teach the horse to move off the leg and what contact in the reins means. After all, all the horses are trained to do is run on the track! 


Just as important as your experience is your level of patience. With an OTTB, you must take the time to help them unlearn everything they got from the track. Ask yourself how much time and work you are willing to put into an OTTB. 

Realistically, you’ll be doing a lot of groundwork at the beginning with a horse fresh off the track. Once the horse understands what you’re asking on the ground, you can begin under saddle. But remember-this takes time!

Do Your Research

Most importantly, you need to know what you’re getting into with an OTTB. Thoroughbreds have been selectively bred for years for their speed, stamina, and athleticism. Because of this, they aren’t well suited for beginner riders.

If you decide you have the experience and patience to take on an OTTB, you should consider what you plan to do with them. Remember, most racehorses know the basics of how to gallop around a counter-clockwise track. So, it’s up to you what you want to discipline you to want to pursue with your new horse. OTTBs excel at various disciplines, including: show jumping, dressage, hunters, eventing, and even trail riding. The opportunities can be endless!

But before you purchase your next horse, you always want to have a thorough vet check performed. This is especially important when it comes to buying OTTBs. Racing is notoriously hard on horses. Galloping takes a beating on their feet, legs, and joints. Performing a vet check will ensure you are aware of any injuries or red flags that could be affecting the horse or affect them in the future.

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