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.
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.
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!!