The Western OTTB

You used to hardly ever hear about an ex racehorse in the western disciplines, and now not only do they participate in western disciplines, they’re also competitive at it. Just check out the western OTTB page and you’ll see lots of stories about ex racehorses barrel racing, working cattle, and participating in a variety of other western activities.

I’ve owned a couple OTTBs that were terrified of cattle when they first saw them, but once they got it figured out, they loved it. I’ve been on a couple TBs that really seemed to enjoy working cattle, and most get used to ropes pretty quick. There’s no reason why they can’t learn and adapt to ranch and cattle work.

Rooster is one that gets rode western here and there. When I first started re training Rooster, I rode him English with the goals of Eventing him that summer. But that summer he ended up going to work as a pony horse at the track, so he got rode western all summer. He learned how to neck rein and move off the leg and being rode mostly on lose rein. He still gets rode western some days, even though we’re focusing back on his Eventing career. He even learned how to drag barrels the other day and has had a rope swung off him.

He hasn’t seen cattle yet, but hopefully he’ll go to some cattle sortings this summer.

TBs also make excellent barrel horses. Not all are built tall and lanky, some get confused with quarter horses because of their built. While taller horses can do very well in barrel racing, most prefer them on the smaller side. Take Valentine Queen for a example. I galloped her as a racehorse, and once she retired from racing, she got adopted through the local TB program HART, and she’s been learning the ropes of being a barrel horse. It even didn’t take her very long to learn how to carry the flag. Can’t wait to see them killing it in barrel racing.

Valentine and her owner and rider Taylor working on carrying the flag.
Valentine is showing lots of promise in her career.

Another great example of your versatile OTTB that does great western is Dutch and his owner Kelsi. Dutch, like Rooster, gets rode both, English and western. Dutch gets trail rode and has proven himself a great trail horse and him and Kelsi also compete in western classes at shows. I’ve never been around Dutch, but I have been following his off track career since Kelsi started working with him. Not only is he a great western horse, he’s also a great English horse. If you ride western, or both, don’t forget to check out some OTTBs!!

Kelsi & Dutch showing in a western class
An OTTB can do it all!

Part 3: The Versatile OTTB

Thoroughbred, the ultimate athlete! While I do love some of the Warmblood breeds, I mean, they are nice to ride, they’re bred for sports, still, to me, there’s nothing like a TB for all of your equestrian events. With the popularity of the retired racehorse project and the TB incentive program, the breed has grown in popularity and has proven itself successful in multiple areas, not just Eventing.

TBs have been popular in Eventing for a long time, but that is not the only sport they excel in.

TBs are known to succeed in Eventing, but they have also managed to climb to the high levels of show-jumping and dressage. TBs are highly adaptable to all types of different in environments when managed and introduced to them the right way, as is with any other horse. Not only are they great at English disciplines, they also excel at western disciplines. There are a lot of TBs out there that are built like little QH. I know of a few that have made a transition from a racehorse to barrel horse.

One of the horses that I trainer last year, Hippie Gem, is currently getting trained to be a polocrosse horse. Polocrosse is a mix between polo and lacrosse. The riders catch and throw the ball vs hitting it, and the field is a little smaller. One of my favorite horses to play polocrosse on was an OTTB, his racing name was Mach One Speed aka Indy. Certainly can’t wait to see Hippie playing polocrosse.

Hippie galloping at Prarie Meadows in her racing days
Still a racehorse, but letting me snuggle with her
Hippie enjoying her new life with her owner Brooke

With the last three that I’ve owned, they have made some great jumper and eventer prospects. Doc’s Friend, was a war horse, he made a good pony horse at the track, great trail horse and even a good babysitter for lesson kids. But after I retired him and worked with a trainer and went to some clinics, it was evident that he had a lot of talent. I will repost a couple blogs about him on here from my old one soon. Doc was one of those that just did everything I’ve asked and always took care of me.

Then there are the two that I own. Otto and Rooster. Both showing a lot of potential to be eventers and/or jumpers. Otto has shown a lot of potential to be an upper level horse. He’s done some schooling shows last year. He’s a bit sensitive and energetic, but also very athletic and nice moving. We’re still figuring out how to work together. And him going to my trainer this summer and me taking more lessons, this should help both of us tremendously.

Otto schooling cross-country

Otto schooling cross-country, me and him are slowly trying to figure out how to work together.

And then there’s Rooster, registered name Husker Cat. He’s my favorite out of the two, but they both have their good and bad traits, for one thing Rooster does NOT like kisses in the nose, and frankly, that’s a bit annoying, lol. Rooster has spent all summer ponying the races, then after the meet was over, took him home, re-introduced him to jumps, and took him to a schooling show.

Rooster at his first cross-country schooling figuring out the water.

He was briefly started over fences before he went to work at the track, but it wasn’t a whole lot of schooling sessions. We had a lesson with John Staples, the next day we had John and Laura, my current trainer, introduce him to cross country, then the following day we did dressage and show jumping for the little combined horse training schooling shows.

It took a little bit to convince Rooster that the water was safe, but we finally did.

So, what is exactly an OTTB? It can be anything! Literally! Just gotta look in the right place and talk to the right trainers (on and off the track). And some OTTBs do it all! Horses like Doc and Rooster, they go western, English and go trail riding and babysit little kids. There’s no limit to a TB, especially when they receive the right care and training.

Tack Review: HDR Bridles

As I’m sitting here and looking at making a taco order for the tack shop, I got to thinking about some of the brands that I seem to keep buying over and over again and/or have over a long period of time. Henri De Rivel is one of the brands, especially their bridles. The bridles are not your top quality brands, but they are very good quality bridles. There’s one bridle that I bought 4 or 5 years ago. I think I bought it used off one of the Facebook groups, and I still have it and it’s in great shape.

I originally bought it for my off track project horses. Figured it would be a great schooling bridle and it was. It’s a monocrown bridle with soft leather,m and rubber reins. Which the rubber has finally started to rub off, but the bridle is still great. Once Doc was retired, it was his regular every day bridle, and it was still nice enough to go to clinics and schooling shows in.

The leather not only looks good, but it is good. For a mid priced bridle, it’s a heck of a deal.

It was borrowed for a while and the noseband got lost and misplaced, so the headstall laid around for a while. But then I had an idea, try it on my grey gelding Otto, who doesn’t really like nosebands. I cut off the remaining noseband straps, since it’s a monocrown, and it’s hard to find replacement nosebands anyways. And now it’s Otto’s jumping bridle. It fits him well, looks good on him and he seems to really like it.

Right before Rooster retired from ponying, I bought him a figure 8 HDR bridle, and love it! I bought him a brand new one. Great quality leather, and the price isn’t that bad either. I’ve also used other HDR tack in the past and present, their breastplates and girths and have even ridden in a few saddles.

If you’re looking for more tack or interested in getting some of HDR tack, check out the tack shop’s Facebook page.

Facebook.com/otftack

Part 2: The Versatile OTTB

A good horse is worth it’s weight in gold. And the definition of a good horse greatly differs from person to person, to some people it’s a solid trail horse and a babysitter in general. Not everyone wants or needs a high powered horse that will clear solid obstacles with ease, some just want to hop on and go for a trail ride, or be able to throw their kid on the horse and worry about either one of them. Some might think an OTTB is the last thing these kind of people need to be getting, but TBs come not only in all shapes and sizes, but also with all types of personalities. Some can take a few years before they’re beginner safe, others will never make a beginners horse, and then there are those that you can throw beginners on right away and they’ll take great care of them.

Take for example Mistaken Lady. I galloped her at the track as a 3 and 4 year old and ended up taking her home as a 4 year old. She was always a fairly quiet and easy going horse. She was a bit body sore when I got her, so I threw her in the pasture for a month and a half. Then brought her up and rode her outside. Second day I threw a beginner on her, lady never batted an eye. Fast forward a few months and I sold her to my best friend who has some riding fear from a past accident. Couldn’t have found a better match for both of them. Lady takes great care of her and gives her plenty of confidence. Can’t wait to see those two on trails and at local shows.

Lady, a 5 year old OTTB with her rider Ashley.
Lady has proven herself to be quite the babysitter when her rider needed some confidence boosting.

Then there was Bridge Party, a chestnut gelding who had absolutely no interest in running. BP was easy to gallop and get along with. He was one of those horses that just loved to lope around the track and not go any faster than asked. And even when asked, the go button didn’t work very well. He retired from racing after running only two. He was 4 at the time as well. So I started working with him so I could help his trainer rehome him.

He wasn’t quite as easy as lady to get along with in the retraining process, but most of his little “tantrums” were minute and didn’t last long, so it was a good sign that he was eventually going to be very mellow. Another friend of mine ended up buying him after falling in love with him when she came over to get some sale pics of him. They have come a long ways in building their relationship, and him learning to be a gentle packer.

Janis and her trusty mount Bridge Party.
They’ve come a long ways in their partnership. BP is more than happy to be going slow.

Then there’s also the ones that I’ve owned, and still have. My war horse Doc, it took him a few years to where he settled down enough for me to trust him with kids and beginners. He always knew when he had beginners on him. He would get down right lazy and not want to go anywhere, but that’s one of the great things about a horse like him, he knew when it was time to go and perform and when he had to be really gentle with the person on his back.

And then there is Rooster, the pony horse from Part 1. After his full summer of ponying, one show and some turnout time, he settled right down. He’s even not too bad of a babysitter and he was even set to start doing some lessons before the pandemic. These are just a few examples of ex racehorses that are nothing short of saints. There are many horses like that out there. Just because they’re a bit high strung at the track, won’t mean that they will be the same way once they retire. Just have to give them a chance.

Rooster doing his part in being a good babysitter.

Part 1: the Versatile OTTB

In this day and age of internet and social media, I am amazed that some people are still shocked that TBs are so versatile and are competitive in so many sports. Even before I started working at the track, TBs by far were my favorite. Working at the track just made me understand them more, and seeing how much the racehorses are exposed to on daily basis made so much more sense at why they’re so versatile and adapt to many different lifestyles outside the track.

Everything I’ve owned has been an TB and helped rehome lots of TBs from the track that I’ve taken care of and galloped. And there’s no better joy than seeing them succeed in their new careers.

Some of these TBs are actually quite and good minded enough to stay on the racetrack as they switch their careers and become stable and lead ponies, as well as outriding mounts. There are a lot of riders out there (including me) that prefer the using an ex racehorse as pony horse. I’ve had a couple over the years. I’ve had some that only ran a couple times, as well as war horses. While some racehorses out there will never be quiet enough, others a fairly easy to re train since they already know the routine.

Seanjoebud, aka Junior, getting ready to go pony the races as his post racing career with his pilot Tom Anderson
Mayday over here never made it to the races, but he made a good little pony horse, and even got to be an outriding horse for one morning.

A couple horses that owned, ponying they races was their first off track career. It gave them a good start since they got ridden a lot and regularly, and they got used to staying in calm in a lot of different situations. Between crowds, and lots of different noises, all the while having to stay calm and reassure the jumpy racehorses that everything is going to be alright. And as a bonus, they learn a lot about patients and standing around and waiting for the next race, it comes in handy being at horse shows waiting for your class.

Otto’s Dream, aka Otto, never made it as a pony horse, but he’s showing great potential in other disciplines
Husker Cat, aka Rooster, made a pretty good pony for ponying his first season last summer. Now he’s learning to be an eventer.
Doc’s Friend, aka Doc, ponied for 3 years in New Mexico and Iowa before being switching over to a sport horse

So, here you go, just a few examples of ex race horses at pursuing other careers at the track. There are many more like them. Next time will talk about our OTTBs that made excellent babysitters, trail and pleasure horses. And then we’ll move to the ultimate spot horse.

Part 2: Start of the Homestead

So, we made another trip to Menards, got a few more seeds, some soil, pots, rose bushes and another dome to start the seeds. They didn’t have the seed starter kit any more, but we got a bigger starter done plus soil.

All very simple to use, just follow the directions. With this one though, I had to make my own chart and mark sets of cells on the starter itself so it was easier to tell what’s what. For this one, I did get a couple extra herbs. Eventually it will be nice to have a full herb garden to use for spices and medicinal products.

Another thing that we got there was a couple of rose bushes. Eventually I would like those to be in front of our new house at the farm. To start them we got a couple bags of soil, large pots and the small rose bush starters.

Found a nice sunny spot for them to get them going. I did have to bring them in for one night because we dropped down into the 20s

We did also pick up a couple of aloe plants at Home Depot the other day. There are lot of uses for aloe, will probably use it in some of the homemade liniments for the horses. So with this we have 2 aloe plants, 3 avocado trees, 2 rose bushes, and a small garden going with a couple different vegetables, herbs and sunflowers. Next thing to start is a small compost bin, which are very easy to make, made ours from an empty litter tub. Again, once we move out to the farm we’ll probably have a bigger outdoor compost. So here’s an easy way to make a small compost bin.

First find a 5 gallon bucket or a plastic tub of some sort with a lid, and drill holes in the lid.

This is the bucket that we used. It’s good size. Just washed it out after it was emptied and poked holes in the lid
You can use a drill or a wood burner to easily make a few holes

Next step is to create a base. Either with dry leaves or paper. Unfortunately it’s been raining for a couple days, so no dry leaves, so I used paper instead. Then go out to your yard and grab some dirt.

Next thing I did was write the date on the bin with the sharpie since it takes 2-3 months for your compost to be ready so I’ll probably start another one in a month. Ideally 3 would be nice, so once a month you can add it to your garden. Find a shady spot for it and start throwing your fruits, veggies and egg shells to the compost. If you used dry soil for your compost, you’ll want to moisten it some. And don’t forget to turn it once in a while.

There are many resources out there where you can find out what to put in your compost. We’re keeping ours very simple and sticking to egg shells, tea, coffee, fruits & vegetables. The compost can be added to vegetable and flower gardens.

Happy Homesteading

Part 1: Start of the Homestead

Since we’re still living in town, we’re limited on some of the stuff that we can do, like being able to have chickens is a no here, but we were able to get a few things going. Thankfully there are still some stores open that have garden centers. Menards is usually our go to out here. We went out there yesterday and got a small indoor “greenhouse”, a few seeds and a Burpees seed starter kit.

When we originally looked at the indoor greenhouse it was $30, but when we went yesterday it dropped down to $20. Yay savings! The seed packets are fairly cheap, anywhere from $2-$5, and the burpee starter with 36 sells was around $10.

Starting kit plus a few vegetables and herbs.
Just follow the directions on the starter kit and don’t forget to write down in what cell is what.

Another thing we got started was a couple avocado trees from seeds. Although those are a long term project, thought it would be a fun one. It can take anywhere from 5-7 years for it to bear any fruit, but may be able to sell one of those trees in a year or two and speed up the process for someone else. Starting avocado trees is fairy simple. There are lots of instructions on the web about starting one and caring for avocado trees. We are starting with 3, hopefully at least one will sprout at some point.

Pretty simple for anyone that lives in town or in an apartment. Especially when you’re talking about simple herbs for your kitchen or medicinal use. Tomorrow will look at creating your small compost bit, another seed starter that we got going and the rose bushes.