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Riding the OTTB
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ReaganLooking for a new horse?  A  local rehoming facility is a great place to start. It helps that horse get a new family and makes a space for the next one waiting to come in.  Well you want to go visit potential horses and go for a ride! Right?

A hurdle we find,  with potential adopters, is  when a person comes out that wants to “test out” the horse by going for a ride, that they all have different styles of riding. The horses when they first arrive here have race training, the potential adopters do not. If a horse has been here for a while, we have taught them some of the basics, but your style may still vary greatly from what the horse knows.

(If the horse is very fresh off the track, they should be given enough down time to decompress before retraining and riding starts, and that varies from horse to horse. )

So this horse that you are excited about adopting, and you, probably speak different languages.  Let that sink in – Two different languages.

All hope is not lost, but it is really important to understand.

I was reading a recent article in Practical Horseman, a list of 15 common mistakes that riders make, and exercises to correct them.  It got me thinking about how smart and savvy a horse needs to be in order to figure this all out.

They try and do the right thing even when:

  1. You are making the riding mistakes
  2. When you are practicing and trying to correct your riding mistakes
  3. When you have improved immensely but still sometimes default to old habits

So all sorts of confusing cues and signals are actually trying to communicate to the horse to do one thing, and those signals and cues change over time, and the horse is supposed to understand that, even thru all of these changes.  Isn’t it amazing that sometimes they do?

So when you come here to see a horse, and after a visit or two its time to try a short ride, please remember that this horse has one set of training and you may have another, and the person that visited them the week before, they probably have yet a different style of riding. And the person who comes the following week, they will be different too.

Be patient.  The most common comment we get is about how calm and well behaved the horses are.  But again, remember that they may not know the exact same things that you do. So there is an adjustment period, and that can’t be determined on a ride here in a matter of minutes, it will happen thru consistent training

OTTBs  can easily be taught to ride the way you do.  But it does take training.  The horses are young and smart and learn easily.  If you are a kind consistent person and give them time to learn, they will flourish .  But they do need the time and they do need the retraining.

So adopt your OTTB, love on your OTTB and give him or her the retraining that they need to have happy and safe rides!

If you need help retraining your OTTB, we can help to some extent with that, and also make connections w great local trainers of any discipline.  If you have experience retraining OTTB’s and want to be added to our list of approved trainers, please send an email to


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