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Off-The-Track Thoroughbreds: Retraining Costs and Benefits

Off-The-Track Thoroughbreds: What to Know Before Buying and the Benefits of Owning One

Off-the-Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many horse enthusiasts looking for a new challenge with these former racehorses. However, this kind of horse requires a specific type of owner and a different kind of care.

Before purchasing an OTTB, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you’re the right fit for the horse and that the horse is the right fit for you and your lifestyle. In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about OTTBs, from what to consider before buying one to the benefits of owning one.

What to Know Before Buying an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred

When considering an OTTB, potential owners must understand that these horses require a lot of retraining after their racing careers. A thorough understanding of the factors involved in their retraining process is essential to ensure that the horse is appropriately cared for and trained.

Experience Level and Riding Instructor: Re-Training an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred

The first step in retraining an OTTB is to have a basic understanding of your own experience level. If you are a beginner or intermediate rider, you should have an experienced riding instructor work with you to re-train the horse.

You must have the patience and understanding to teach the horse the basics, such as leg cues, rein contact, and other riding aids. Is the Off-The-Track Thoroughbred Healthy and Sound?

Before purchasing an OTTB, it’s essential to have a vet check the horse and perform x-rays to determine its health and soundness. This check can help determine any past or potential health issues that the horse may have.

You should also check their joints, legs, feet, and conformation to ensure good health.

Potential Concerns with an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred

Stirrups are one of the most dangerous aspects of owning an OTTB. These horses are notoriously sensitive to leg cues because they’re used to running fast.

Therefore, when a rider attempts to use stirrups, the horse may become nervous or jumpy if they’re too clunky or not fitted correctly. Cross-ties are another issue that riders face when owning an OTTB.

Because the cross-ties restrict the horse’s movement, it can cause panic in the horse. However, it’s advisable to tie the horse so it doesn’t cause too much stress.

Stall confinement is another issue that can have negative effects on a horse. Many OTTBs are used to being turned out in a field, so being confined to a stall for twenty-four hours a day can cause a lot of stress.

It’s essential to have appropriate turn-out time for the horse. Spookiness is an issue that OTTBs may display because they are used to their routines.

They can spook for many reasons, such as cars, buses, loudspeakers, and applause. Therefore, it requires patience and understanding from the rider to help the horse adjust to different environments.

The Cost of Owning an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred

The initial cost of purchasing an OTTB is low because they are usually sold for a small budget. However, the costs of retraining the horse must be taken into account.

This cost includes feed, horse shoes, veterinarian bills, and tack, to name a few. Overall, re-training an OTTB is quite expensive.

What Are the Benefits of Owning an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred? Despite the challenges associated with owning an OTTB, there are several benefits that come with owning one.

Former Racehorse Experience

OTTBs have an incredible amount of experience in racing and other high-pressure situations. Therefore, they are less reactive to their environment, making them great horses for performing, trailering, and other high-pressure situations.

Affordable Prices

OTTBs are the perfect option for those with a small budget, as the purchase price is low, and they are great resale projects. With a little training, these horses can be transformed and resold for profit.

Athleticism and Versatility

OTTBs are athletic and versatile, making them great horses for dressage, jumping, roping, lesson horses, or even as a trail partner. Their endurance and willingness to learn make them ideal for any equestrian discipline.


In conclusion, owning an OTTB requires dedication, patience, and training to bring out their full potential. Before purchasing one, you should seek the advice of an experienced riding instructor, have the horse’s health checked, and consider the potential costs.

However, the benefits of owning an OTTB include their experience, affordability, athleticism, and versatility. Therefore, with the right kind of care and effort, owning an OTTB can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for any horse enthusiast.

Overall Considerations for Buying an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred

Off-The-Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are an exciting option for equestrians with limited budgets and extensive experience. These former racehorses also make excellent riding partners for novice riders who are willing to dedicate their time and patience to retraining them.

However, before bringing an OTTB home, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

Patience is Key

OTTBs have always existed in a high-stress environment, where their focus on winning and quick decision-making is crucial for their success. For this reason, patience is the most valuable trait an owner can have when retraining an OTTB.

An experienced rider or trainer can help guide you through each stage of the retraining process. They can also help you recognize when to push and when to slow down.

Experience is a Must

Experience is another essential factor when considering owning an OTTB. They are often anxious and excitable, especially in new environments, and require a rider who is confident and capable of leading and guiding them.

The rider must have a good knowledge of riding basics, including proper body position, leg cues, and rein contact. Without a solid foundation, it can be difficult to communicate with your horse, teach them new skills, and get them under control.

Quality Re-Training is Crucial

OTTBs require a lot of retraining once they leave their racing careers behind. They’re trained to race, which involves running fast and in straight lines, and they’ll need to learn how to turn, stop, and listen to their rider’s cues.

An experienced trainer can help teach them manners, ground work, and patience. They will also help teach them basic exercises to enhance their balance and athleticism.

The trainer will also teach them how to stand still in cross-ties, turn in their stalls, and behave appropriately when in the presence of other horses.

Health and Soundness

Before purchasing an OTTB, you should always have a veterinarian perform a complete physical examination. The veterinarian will examine the horse’s legs, joints, feet, teeth, eyesight, and overall body condition.

A veterinarian can also provide insight into any potential health issues that may require additional treatment expenses, so that you are aware of the potential costs upfront. OTTBs are more susceptible than other breeds to injuries related to overuse, which can result in permanent damage to joints, legs, and muscles.

It’s also important to pay close attention to the horse’s conformation. Some OTTBs may have conformation issues that increase the risk of certain injuries.

Benefits of Owning an OTTB

OTTBs offer several benefits that make them an excellent choice for experienced riders looking for an affordable and versatile horse. One of the most significant advantages of owning an OTTB is their affordability.

Many people are unable to afford horses of other breeds or types, but because of the low purchase price of OTTBs, they can still own a horse of their own. Retraining an OTTB to sell for a profit is also a potentially lucrative business strategy.

OTTBs are also incredibly versatile. They’re athletic and built for running, making them suitable for a wide variety of horse sports, such as jumping, dressage, and eventing.

They are also ideal as lesson horses or for use in recreational riding because of their easy-going and manageable temperaments. Finally, there is the thrill of retraining a horse that’s been trained for a different but very rigorous job.

Owning an OTTB offers the opportunity to experience the transformation of a once-nervous, stiff racer into an athletic, well-mannered, and affectionate companion.


When deciding to purchase an OTTB, it’s important to be patient, have experience, and be willing to commit to the horse’s training needs. While the process of retraining OTTBs can be challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding for both the rider and the horse.

OTTBs are versatile and athletic horses that provide a wide range of benefits to their owners. Overall, if you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and resources, owning an OTTB can be an incredibly fulfilling experience.

In conclusion, owning an off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) requires patience, expertise, and quality re-training, and the benefits of owning one include versatility, athleticism, and affordability. Before purchasing an OTTB, a veterinarian should check the horse’s health and soundness, while stirrups and confinement require careful management.

FAQs regarding owning an OTTB include the importance of experience, why a vet check is necessary before purchasing, and the cost of retraining. With dedication and the right kind of care, owning an OTTB can be a remarkably satisfying experience.

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