In the horse world, OTTB stands for off-the-track-Thoroughbred. Thousands of OTTBs are looking for new homes and careers after their racing days are done. Ex-racehorses can be excellent riding horses, friends, and/or companions.
Nonprofits that Help OTTBs
There are many more local horse organizations and rescues that work to help OTTBs. They may provide training for Thoroughbreds once their race careers are over, find homes for OTTBs who end up in the slaughter yard, use OTTBs in therapeutic riding programs, and much more. To find local people and groups that support OTTBs, you can search the Internet and talk with tack shops or horse professionals in your area.
OTTB Health and Hoofcare
All horses, especially performance horses, can experience injuries. However, racehorses are worked hard from a young age before they are fully mature and may be at a higher risk for performance-related injuries and health concerns such as ulcers, bowed tendons, or bone chips. It is strongly recommended that you work with a trained veterinarian to complete a pre-purchase exam before buying an OTTB. That said, there are many OTTBs that do not have injuries and in many cases those that do can be rehabilitated successfully with the right care.
Training Your OTTB
Experienced horse trainers in any discipline should be able to work with ex-racehorses. However, those who have specific experience working with OTTBs will typically be better prepared to help them. Chat with potential trainers before you send your OTTB to them to learn what training methods they use, what their philosophy and goals are, and what their experience is with transitioning racehorses into second riding careers. It is perfectly reasonable to ask trainers questions to find the right fit; if they refuse to answer your inquiries then look elsewhere.
Blogs about OTTBs
- Susan Salk’s Off-Track Thoroughbred Blog
- My 100-Day Training Diary with Solar
- “Thoroughbred Legends” series on Eventing Nation
Learn More about Your OTTB
There are many ways in which you can learn more about your ex-racehorse. Start by asking questions to the person you purchase the horse from and be sure to identify the numbers and letters that make up your OTTB’s lip tattoo. Any racehorse that is trained in the starting gate or races in an official race will have a black identification tattoo on the inside of their upper lip. Once you know that tattoo you can find pedigree history, racing history, ownership history, and in some cases video footage or pictures of your horse from the past. If you determine who bred your OTTB, you may be able to contact the breeder to learn more about your horse’s history. Some breeders will be happy to provide you with information about your ex-racehorse, some will not. If you are polite and professional, it can’t hurt to ask. There are many resources online you can use to find more information about your OTTB, for example:
- Jockey Club Registry – The Jockey Club has served a leadership role in the Thoroughbred racing industry since 1894 and maintains The American Stud Book for all Thoroughbred breeding. All Thoroughbred racehorses must be registered with the Jockey Club prior to participating in racing or breeding.
- Pedigree Query – Search for a Thoroughbred horse’s pedigree or racing history and career earnings by name.
- Retired Racehorse Project’s OTTB Database – Here people can post pictures and information about the OTTBs they own as well as search for other OTTBs by name, parents, or discipline at no cost.
- Tattoo Identification Search – The Jockey Club Registry offers free lip tattoo identification search. You’ll have to create a free online account to search the database, but once you do it is quick and easy to type in OTTB tatoo numbers to find out the horse’s registered name and breeding.
Competitions for OTTB Trainers
- Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP)
- Battle of the Exs
- Prodigious Fund’s 100-Day Trainer Challenge
- Retired Racehorse Project Makeover
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