The OTT horse

Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by EVP, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. EVP

    EVP Gold Member

    Some of you might remember the thread about the re-training and re-homing of off the track horses of both breeds (TB & STB).

    Having been involved with mostly the Standardbred I can say without question that the majority of them finish racing with soundness issues...either in the short term or the long term. Concussion injuries, tendons, hocks and knees are the most common. Many of these things manifest themselves slowly and begin with bumble-footing, tripping and poor flexion, moving on to arthritic conditions at an earlier age than normal.
    Even if a horse didn't have an extensive time on the track, the stresses involved in pre-training and full training have the same effect.....after all a horse does more work and more hours in training than they do in a race.

    The Thoroughbred has the same issues......they train and work many more hours than they race. While the concussion is slightly different because they race and train on softer tracks (grass as opposed to gravel), the stresses on tendons and early bone is still an issue that affects short term and long term soundness.

    Articles written by John O'Leary and Dr John Kohnke make great reading. It is these people who contributed to the figures of 7 out of 10 horses being unsound post their racing career. I think the RIRDC actually had higher figures in their studies on wastage in the racing industry.

    On top of physical conformational issues comes the heart and lungs. Upper respiratory disease or abnormality causes health concerns for even recreational riders in that horses can experience "wind problems" or wheezes or seem to consistently suffer from allergies and broncy episodes.

    The issue of vet checks are suspect too.......a vet can only assess what he sees on standard tests like flexion or run outs.......those are not valuable or reliable exams. Full x-rays are going to cost a decent amount of money - doing all joints over an interval time frame......this is something that a seller is unlikely to have done as the cost involved compared to a horses selling price means profit margin decreases drastically - even into the negative figures.

    Vet exams are such that they carry a disclaimer. Even if the horse turns out to be unsound and this was not discovered at the original exam there is very little that an owner/client can do.....other than sue the vets insurer...spending more good money after bad.

    The fact that thousands of ex-race horses are out in the general public being ridden does not detract from the stats from well-known industry professionals and data collected by places like RIRDC (Rural Industry Research & Development Council).....While rescueing them, re-homing them, re-training them is noble and certainly gives the horses a place to relocate to from a racing stable, the fact remains that its the new owner who ends up with the responsibility of maintenance costs and the emotions that go with that.....
    How many owners after taking a rescue or buying an OTT end up doing what should have been done earlier - PTS?......not many.........they beat themselves up get on crusades to find answers and some even spend huge amounts of money and STILL don't get the sound horse they wanted.

    Its a hard call when only 3 out of 10 are going to be of use to the recreational rider or one with performance dreams.....but them is the facts and they are easily verifiable.

    I urge anyone wanting to re-home, buy or accept an OTT horse to really think about the consumers and as horse lovers. Trainers and syndicates aren't going to give out much information either - after all once gone thats it. If you are prepared to spend over a few thousand on a sequence of x-rays then different story at a top notch facility that specialise in race horses (Randwick or similar) then go for it!! But be prepared to go through 10 to find 3!
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  2. wattle6180

    wattle6180 Gold Member

    A good read EVP.

    Perhaps the aforementioned industries need to think about a responsibility to the animal after it's breeding purpose is complete? That is, if it's finished racing and can't pass a full Vet Check paid for by the current Owner/Syndicate....then it should be PTS.

    Oh wait....that could almost cause an economic disaster. Although sporthorse and showhorse breeders would certainly be grateful :)
  3. Shiobhan

    Shiobhan Well-known Member

    EVP I have admired your posting for a long time and I will carry on to do so I dare say. Your opinion is your opinion your entilted to that.

    I had a reply ready to go last night when I came across the 7 out of 10 fact you state, but I did not want to take the topic off course so Im actually glad you have made this one.

    I know your statements as a whole in general cover the racing industry as a whole. However during my time being involed with TB racing I have only come across 2 or 3 trainers whom I would not recommend to either train horses for or get a horse from if someone was looking for a ridden horse. I know your post was not personal attack Im just on the fence to defend what we do.

    The rest do care about their horses even if its in the end for figure at the end (since everything boils down to money). If they dont look after their horses, they dont produce the goods, they dont get the clients to pay their way. Meaning no horses for trainers. Be it hobby like ourselves or professional city trainer.

    7 out of 10 stats do not happen in my camp or we would simply not do it. I had 10 horses this season. I made a very heart breaking decision to have one gelding destroyed. He arrived a crippled to us. I could not bare thethought of him ending up on RSPCA or Second Chance website looking neglected due to a new owner letting him rot in the paddock becuase he looked lame. I had numerous vets look at him they could find nothing wrong. I could not let someone else spend the money to find nothing.

    We routinly xray our horses for arthritic changes or any fault they might have. Scope them, get blood work done, hair samples done.

    We take pride in knowing our horses are the best they can be in our care.

    When retired I have rehomed 99% bare the poor fellow I had destroyed. All new owners know everything, I give them full permission to any or all vet records, xrays etc if they wish to see them. I have been told a few times that I am to honest in my ads but Im sorry I think my own stats prove that being honest finds them the right home.

    If what ever reason a horse may not suit I also offer a swap type deal if I have other available to try match up riders temp and horses temp. If its not an option I cover cost until the horse is rehomed from where ever it is.

    You might say Im just the odd one out but there are more and more of us good guys out there just you only hear more of the bad guy stuff.

    I sit on the fence we love our horses we treat each as if their our own even if not. We try to encourage owner involvment where possible. I know alot of bad stuff happens in racing. I have sign anti 2 yr old petetions etc. I have my own 2yr old people are trying to talk me into racing him. I just wont.

    Dont really have much more to add. Just I agree with you new owners should spend them money on OTT to check soundness. Word of mouth and recommendations from people on where to get one is also a way to go. Alot of my rehoming has come from word of mouth I have been lucky enough to have line up for some of our horses. The odd one or two dont have that instant appeal to people but when we get them out doing something that helps their case.

    I do hope this topic doesnt get heated as I really do enjoy talking racing but sometimes I dread reading some racing, OTT post waiting to get cyber bullied for what we like doing (not that it would directly effect me I can switch off pretty easy)
  4. Sim

    Sim Well-known Member

    Interesting reads.

    Thanks S and EVP.

    This is a topic close to my heart ATM and I am one of those 'consumers' you refer to. My horse too has undiagnosed/able lameness issues that mean he is sound only for the once a week walk around the block, which are probably related to his extensive (and successful!) racing background. Has cost me an arm and a leg in vet bills to find out nothing really, but at least I know I have done all I can.

    WOuld I have bought him had I known about his soundness issues?
    Most definitely not.

    Do I regret buying him?
    Not at all. In terms of temprement his is the sweetest/most gentle/friendliest horse ever and he has done me huge favours in winning my hubby over (he previously was very scared of horses) and through his multiple issues, I have learned an absolute heap.

    Would I buy an OTTB again?
    Very unlikely. Too much money, too much work.

    I've read O'Leary and Kohnke's stuff and found it too depressing to fully comprehend. Essentially, if is it true, what's going to happen to the 7 out of the ten?????
  5. EVP

    EVP Gold Member

    Siobhian, the statics mentioned go far beyond what one person might experience in their dealings. They are gathered by doing thorough research across the board.
    The statistics don't lie. They just tell the full and detailed picture. That groups and individuals have spent time and money on gathering those facts is validation enough - wastage in racing is big dollars.

    Researchers like Rooney JA, Jeffoctt LB & Rossdale PD have contributed with articles based on their findings. There is a huge list of contributors that would be boring to post....but they are there....I can name at least a dozen.

    A complete set of x-rays done at the intervals recommended to contribute to a thorough assessment would cost someone at least $ many ex-race horses are going to have that done by their SELLERS?
    Imagine that middle-man getting 5 horses that "looked OK" only to have them examined CORRECTLY, found they failed but still having to pay for the x-rays anyway.....I'm yet to find a vet who won't charge if you don't like the diagnosis.....lololol

    Routine flexion tests show very little.....either do routine scopings......respiratory stress tests need to be done while at rest, during stress and post stress.....multiple x-rays ect......hummmmmm this is alot of testing for a horse when the stats are saying you'll only get 3 out of 10 to pass????????????? Big dollar risk for a seller.......?

    That you might not have experienced the weight of the stats I won't comment on....I'm only providing those stats as published by authorities on the subject.

    What it means is that these horses are still going to end up in the hands of the general equine community......nothing will stop that.....people will always want to buy and sell and re-sell.......regardless of the facts and regardless of the outcome. However, it is important to put those FACTS out there, even if they are unpopular with some people. Imagine going in to buy a car and being told that 70% are lemons? And 30% are just have to do a luckdip?
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  6. Anna E

    Anna E Guest

    Interesting post EVP. I too try and talk people out of buying OTT horses (that said, I have an OTT standy, but he was free and I am brutal enough to have him euthanased if he turns out to be one of the 7 in 10).
    Looking at a horse's track history can help... and I encourage people to do so if they are set on buying an OTT horse. My horse for example had 60 starts, but none of them were before 4 years old. Granted I do not know how many preps he had prior to a start, but it's better than racing as a 2 and 3 year old. I also knew the trainer and was prepared to look him straight in the eye and say "what should I know about this horse?"
    Speaking as someone who used to vet these horses (with all the provisos you state) I think there are some basic things you can do to sway the odds a bit more in your favour. I looked very specifically for sacro iliac pain and I was BLOODY tough on foreleg flexion tests, especially fetlocks and knees.
    Just to be a devil's advocate - you could buy 7 OTTBs at a thousand bucks each, have them go lame, then get lucky on the 8th one and still be better off than buying a purpose bred warmblood at 10,000 dollars...;)
    Course, then there's the ulcers and the behavioural issues to deal with...
  7. Shiobhan

    Shiobhan Well-known Member

    I'm not denying the stats are not correct and I did say I agree with you re people spending the money to have the horses checked.

    People need to do their own leg work to find out if the horse is sound.

    I think the system I think its japan dont have time to google it sorry got to pick daughter up from school. I like there system and I would agree with it being implemented into australia.

    An owner can not purchase another horse to race unless they rehome the one retiring successfully or it is PTS. Due to land shortage thats how they work. Owners pay everything from what I have seen reeducation and all. Will google when I get home.
  8. Nikiwink

    Nikiwink Well-known Member

    I havn't read it all - but from my experiance i tend to agree and i think the statastics are pretty accurate.

    We get alot of Tb's handed to us and alot end up going for meat horses. In fact i have 2 in the stables at the moment that will end up going for meat. I always have a look at them (and so do the office staff) and if any of us think they have a chance of being pleasure horses we will give them time and some handling etc and try and rehome them - but the plain fact is they are there usually for a reason.

    The 2 geldings at the moment both were apparently too slow (so apparently retired sound). To look at i'm not surprised they were too slow. One (a 5yo going by the brand) has the sweetes face i've seen in a long time. Totally distracts you from the most upright shoudler i've seen in a long time, the very narrow chest and incredibly short neck. The other horse from the side is a really nice looking horse but from the front is incredibly narrow and crooked legged. Both could do with some serious groceries.

    If they have truely retired sound i would be surprised and if they did i suspect either would break down pretty quickly from their conformation once put in work again.

    So to actually get to my point - people need to stop breeding just becasue they have a mare - how does producing badly conformed horses help anyone - sure doesn't help the horse. I would love to see a breeding limit put on studs (ie only so many foals a year) and that all race horses to bred have to have some sort of assessment - least that will stop some of the bad conformation coming through.
  9. Eoroe

    Eoroe Gold Member

  10. Lokenzo

    Lokenzo Gold Member

    Oh don't I know that feeling! My old boy (at just 12) is pleasure sound only and that is after thousands of $$$s, several vets and farriers etc. I have leased him to the perfect home thanks to the great temperament he has.

    Now, I also grew up in the pacing industry. I remember when Standardbreds were built tough, they could race every week (my Grandfather told me they used to even race some twice on the same day!) and pull up fine. My old Stb had 150 race starts, raced until he was 10 and went on to be my show horse perfectly sound and with clean legs. He was born in 1988.

    So, what happened? Why are so many so unsound now? Is it the different training methods, different feeding regimes, different breeding? Why have they gone from being known for being tough horses (this is all talking about the STB, I don't have history with the racing of TB's) to horses that the majority are so unsound?
  11. farfromhome

    farfromhome Well-known Member

    I just bought a mare that can OTT but the previous owner had her for 1.5 years before i got her.

    i am now looking into where and who she was trained by so i can find out as much as possible about where my horse came from so i may be able to know what is to come in the future **)
  12. Jonsie

    Jonsie Well-known Member

    I would have to agree that soundness issues are a major issue in the rehoming of the OTT TB - I have a 9yr old OTTTB that is already having soundness issues and unfortunately i am not in a position to spend the large X amount of $$$ to do X-rays and full lameness workups (have had the preliminary work ups done but without alot more investigation it was inconclusive) - luckily enough for this fella he is living life to the full still rugged and hard fed in his own paddock and enjoying life but if i were in a situation where i agisted my horses this would not be possible for me and i would have to make some hard choices....

    The market is flooded with OTTTB's that are badly conformed (do breeders NOT notice how badly set a mares legs and neck are?????) and the amount of baldy conformed TB foals i have seen as an equine vet nurse could curl your hair - but who is going to do something about it???? The industry is a multimillion dollar one and there is no law to say that you cant breed X amount of mares etc.

    On the Standy side - i have successfully competed my 10 yr old standy in endurance and he has the most reliable legs and feet, a huge lung capacity and spectacular stamina! His temperament is one in a million and this is one of the things that i most appreciate about him. He is very well put together and both sire and dam have good conformation = quality stock!
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Well-known Member

    Can I just say there have been many badly conformed crooked legged TB's win ALOT of money!!!!! How? Who knows, I think it boils down to the horse and the will to win. I have seen group 1 bred horses not even place in a trial.

    As for OTTB's I can vouch for the 3 sound in every 10 :) I have had 10 OTTB's/TB's and only 3 have been sound. Heart breaking and gut wrenching to put so much time, effort, money and training only to have it break down :( I keep doing tho in the hope of getting that special one that is sound. *touches wood* both my current horses are sound :)
  14. EVP

    EVP Gold Member have a very teeny weeny advantage don't you.......lolol Yes, like you there are some of us who have either the means or the ways to make acquiring one of these horses far less tragic than other people.....lolol

    The "other people" learn the hard Sim....and others....
    And this is where the emotions come into play......just frequenting on here will show you that most would not consider having their new "friend" PTS...regardless of his issues or lack of rideability.

    And this is the sad part..................emotionally charged new owner with a horse that is going to cost them forever....

    I have seen it first hand, dozens of times.....with the STB. Have people ring to ask why this new horse "The daughter got" has this "funny way of going".......that "The daughter is having heaps of trouble riding it".....and what can they do. "Is this how horses go she wants to sell it and get another one?".........makes my brain bleed!!

    Or..... "We got this horse from this bloke who trains - nice bloke - well this horse was really quiet and he said my daughter could have it. I didn't know that horses ate that much, we thought they just ate grass"......ra ra ra I near fall asleep on the phone.

    Why o why wasn't this poor creature PTS.......trainer obviously wanted to sleep well that night so instead of taking his rubbish to the tip, just dumped it on the road-side (sorry no offence you get my meaning).

    If I had $10 for every phone call from these desperate people who now have a horse they do not want......I could buy half of Queensland to start a sanctuary!!!

    How many who take either STB or TB are going to do all those extensive tests.......maybe 1%.........

    In answer to the question about race soundness in the STB...............

    Great Q.
    One reason that I believe holds alot of weight is the fact that most horses are now trained on "tracks".....many of the "at home complexes" are gone...people take their horses to the bigger tracks to train or train them from the stabling there. Tracks have changed.....they are designed and built for speed......and most are not those big good sized 1000m tracks that are better on horses. Some damn tracks are like plates...round almost. Those bends do severe things to horses legs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Surfaces aren't what they used to be.......loamy softer. Now they are compressed and rolled and camphered to encourage water to run off (so the track stands up for races).

    Concussion injuries are horrendus........horses training on the very surface they are to race on? Pounding day after day.....and then fast work? Add to that the drought.........tracks like Goulburn and other regional centres have tracks like concrete! Water restrictions mean they can't water the surface and so it goes.

    Training regimes play a big part in all that..........but thats another topic alltogether!!
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  15. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Active Member

    I have an OTTB.

    He was heavily raced both in Melbourne and over here - very successfully. He retired rising 7. Long career!:)*

    When we decided to retire him I took him on. I am lucky in that (1) I knew his full racing history/injury list as I was a part owner of him and (2) our trainers are 100% honest/realistic about whether a horse can be rehomed or whether it is better to be PTS due to previous injuries or personality.

    My view is that teh successful reeducation of an OTTb can be the most rewarding experince. I have learnt SO much more about my riding, horsemanship and the horse itself by having him.

    If you want soemthing that is 100% sound - dont get an OTT. Heavy racing is no good for young bones.

    Mine has had his issues, from ulcers to not right joints.

    Would I have done the same thing in hindsight? 100% ABSOLUTELY. Becasue I have learnt more than I would have by buying a push button pony and becasue he is holding his own in his discipline, is a very safe horse and I love his personality.:))

    You are kidding yourself if you think the initial cost of the horse is the issue. It doesnt matter if teh horse is free or you pay $50,000 for a been there done that push button WB.

    The REAL cost in having horses is the upkeep - the feeding, the vet bills, the competiion fees (if you choose to do that), the rugs, the shoeing etc etc.

    If you cant afford this - dont get a horse. This doesnt apply just to OTT's.

    I agree that as a general rule upkeep issues in some OTT's are higher than non-raced horses due to the impacft on tehir minds and bodies.

    HOWEVER, if someone dont know this, perhaps they are not ready to have their own horse - the ongoing cost is the killer.

    I love my OTTB and would absolutley get another. That ebing said, I am lucky in that I ahve the benfit of teh points I made above (knowing history and knowing trainers).

    Just my opinion.**)
  16. EVP

    EVP Gold Member

    Grasshopper while its a great result that you got one of the 30% what has to be acknowledged is that its not just racing that causes injury or contributes to is in the training & spelling. Because TB's already have the predisposition to have certain skeletal issues, add to that the rigors of breaking, training and spelling and you have an end result of those mentioned figures.

    From the studies it seems that females have a higher incidence of "life after racing", primarily through their breeding posibilities....very few local-bred entires go on to commercial stud duties, so its the other males (geldings) that make up the figures.

    Yep horses aren't cheap to keep and soundness issues could be a problem with any horse breed.......the issue here is that 'race horse freebie syndrome' is the biggest way that many people get a horse.....they get the horse then they get the news.....ahahahha

    I have no doubt that some people won't like reading the statistics......especially those thinking about taking on an OTT horse retired from racing or through other avenues. Same goes for the STB.
  17. eventingchild

    eventingchild Well-known Member

    call me a risk taker but I much rather take on a OTT.

    no actual point in explaining why because...:}
  18. Brew

    Brew Well-known Member

    Sorry EVP I don't agree with your conclusions. To begin with 80% of race horse foals never get as far as a trial and the remaining 20% a fair number are PTS and less than 1% win a race, so your figure of 7/10 would appear to be optimistic. Out of the 100s of OTTBs I have had I have only ever had one pass a vet check!! However the large majority of these horses have gone on to have successfull careers.

    As a matter of interest out of all the hundreds of warmbloods I have dealt with through my life very few of those would pass a vet check. Is is a stone cold hard fact that the vast majority of horses are unsound to some degree. If we PTS every unsound horse very few of us would have anything to ride. That said you have to ask what degree of unsoundness is acceptable and this must relate to the intended use of the horse. A vet will always ask you what the purpose of the horse is intended to be when a vet check is carried out.

    Unsoundness does not mean that the horse is in pain or suffering in any way, it means only that he exhibits some degree of uneveness in his action or in his physiology. If we rule out major lameness because we don't want to buy a horse with three legs then we are left with the more minor (we hope) unsoundness issues.

    Everybody wants to have a go at the race horse trainers and I feel this is grossly unjust. there are good trainers and bad trainers, either for race horses or sport horses. The racing industry is huge with many thousands of horses in work at anytime and on a pure numbers basis they are bound to have quite a few failures. There are many OTTBs that go on to have a very successfull career but that career needs to suit the particular horse. To have a go at the racing industry is a mistake as I can guarantee that a vastly higher percentage of warmbloods become unsound and unservicable. in the quarter horse industry for those western riders amongst us there are major problems with soundness. I think I could take any breed and find problems and to arbitarily reject OTTBs is an error because your chances of getting a sound one are not that different to most other breeds.
  19. eventingchild

    eventingchild Well-known Member

    amen amen amen!!!!
  20. KC Quarter Horses

    KC Quarter Horses Gold Member

    I was going to stay out of this debate and I will after this comment.....but i agree with you eventingchild :)

    Dont see the point in taking it further either as I have learnt to stay away from certain posters / threads from experience.

    Have had a number of OTTB's over the years and never had any ongoing soundness issues. Did spend a grand on one recently as a potential recip mare who is going to get a bullet this week, which is a shame as she is physically sound and has awesome movement but fitted the other day....not mentally all there.

    I wont bother coming back to this thread though because your either agree or dont, so a totaly waste of time and effort, which I am lacking in cant be bothered :p)

Share This Page