What Is Ottb Horse?

An OTTB horse, also known as an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred, is a racehorse that has retired from the track and transitioned into a new career. These horses possess immense athleticism, intelligence, and a willingness to learn, making them ideal for various equestrian disciplines such as show jumping, dressage, eventing, and trail riding. With proper training and care, OTTBs can excel in their second careers and form strong bonds with their new owners. Discover the incredible potential and versatility of OTTB horses.

what is ottb horse

Training an OTTB Horse

In this section, we will discuss the process of training an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) horse. These horses have spent their early years being trained for racing and often require retraining to adapt to a new career. Training an OTTB can be a rewarding experience, but it requires patience, consistency, and an understanding of their unique needs and background.

1. Assessing the Horse’s Condition and Abilities

Before starting the training process, it is important to assess the horse’s physical condition and abilities. OTTBs may have varying degrees of fitness and muscling depending on their racing career. A veterinary examination and an evaluation of their conformation and movement can help identify any potential issues or limitations.

2. Establishing a Solid Foundation

The first step in training an OTTB is to establish a solid foundation. This involves building trust and developing a relationship with the horse. Spend time grooming, handling, and bonding with the horse to create a strong partnership. Groundwork exercises such as lunging, leading, and desensitization can help establish respect and obedience.

3. Retraining for Basic Riding Skills

Once the foundation is established, it is time to start retraining the horse for basic riding skills. This includes teaching them to respond to the basic aids such as leg, seat, and rein cues. Start with simple exercises such as walking, trotting, and halting. Gradually introduce more advanced movements and transitions.

4. Building Strength and Fitness

OTTBs may need time to build strength and fitness after their racing career. Incorporate exercises such as hill work, cavalletti, and pole work to develop their muscles and improve their balance. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of their workouts, always ensuring that they are sound and comfortable.

5. Exposing to Different Environments

OTTBs are accustomed to the controlled environment of the racetrack. It is essential to expose them to different environments to build their confidence and adaptability. Take them on trail rides, introduce them to different arenas, and expose them to various sights and sounds. Gradual exposure can help desensitize them to new stimuli.

6. Special Considerations

When training an OTTB, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind. These horses may have a strong flight response due to their racing background. It is important to be patient, calm, and consistent in your training approach. Additionally, thoroughbreds may have a sensitive mouth, so using gentle and patient rein aids is crucial.

7. Seeking Professional Help

If you are unsure about certain aspects of training an OTTB or if you encounter any behavioral or training challenges, it is recommended to seek professional help. An experienced trainer who specializes in retraining OTTBs can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the process.

In summary, training an OTTB horse requires patience, consistency, and an understanding of their unique background. By assessing their condition, establishing a solid foundation, retraining for basic riding skills, building strength and fitness, exposing them to different environments, considering their special needs, and seeking professional help when needed, you can help your OTTB transition to a successful second career.

Common Health Issues in OTTB Horses

When it comes to caring for an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) horse, it is important to be aware of the various health issues that these horses may face. As former racehorses, OTTBs often have unique needs and vulnerabilities that require special attention. By understanding and addressing these common health issues, you can ensure the well-being and longevity of your OTTB companion.

1. Musculoskeletal Problems

One of the most prevalent health issues in OTTB horses is musculoskeletal problems. The intense training and racing that these horses go through can result in injuries and conditions such as osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and ligament damage. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, and appropriate exercise routines can help manage and prevent these issues.

2. Gastric Ulcers

Due to the high-stress nature of their racing careers, OTTB horses are prone to developing gastric ulcers. The combination of a high-grain diet, limited forage access, and constant exercise can disrupt the delicate balance of stomach acid production, leading to the formation of ulcers. Feeding a balanced diet, providing ample turnout time, and administering ulcer prevention medications can help alleviate this problem.

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3. Respiratory Conditions

Racehorses often experience respiratory issues as a result of the intense physical exertion and exposure to airborne pollutants present at racetracks. Conditions such as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) and recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) are commonly seen in OTTB horses. Proper stable ventilation, dust-free bedding, and regular veterinary evaluations are essential in managing these respiratory conditions.

4. Dental Problems

Racehorses wear bits while racing, which can lead to dental issues such as sharp enamel points, malocclusions, and dental fractures. Regular dental check-ups and floating (filing down sharp points) are necessary to maintain proper dental health in OTTB horses and ensure comfortable bit usage.

5. Hoof Problems

OTTB horses may experience hoof-related problems due to the repetitive strain on their feet during their racing careers. Conditions like thin soles, cracked hooves, and shoeing-related issues can cause discomfort and lameness. Regular hoof care, including proper trimming and shoeing, can help prevent and manage these hoof problems.

6. Metabolic Disorders

Some OTTB horses may develop metabolic disorders, such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or insulin resistance, as a result of their genetic predisposition or improper feeding and management practices. These conditions can lead to weight gain, laminitis, and other health complications. A balanced diet, appropriate exercise, and regular veterinary monitoring are crucial in managing metabolic disorders.

7. Mental Health Issues

OTTB horses may also experience mental health issues due to the transition from a highly structured racing environment to a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle. Some horses may exhibit anxiety, stress, or behavioral problems. Patient and consistent training, along with a calm and consistent routine, can help these horses adjust to their new lives off the track.

In summary, OTTB horses are prone to several common health issues such as musculoskeletal problems, gastric ulcers, respiratory conditions, dental problems, hoof problems, metabolic disorders, and mental health issues. By staying vigilant, working closely with your veterinarian, and providing appropriate care and management, you can ensure that your OTTB horse leads a happy and healthy life beyond the racetrack.

Tips for Retraining an OTTB Horse

Retraining an off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) horse can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. These horses have been bred and trained for racing, so transitioning them into a new career or discipline requires time, patience, and skill. Whether you plan to use your OTTB for show jumping, dressage, eventing, or pleasure riding, here are some essential tips to help you successfully retrain your OTTB horse.

1. Allow for Proper Rehabilitation

Before diving into any training program, it’s crucial to allow your OTTB horse time for physical and mental rehabilitation. These horses have undergone intense training and may have physical issues or emotional stress from their racing days. Give your horse plenty of turnout time in a safe pasture, allow them to relax, and adjust to their new surroundings. Additionally, consult with a veterinarian to address any underlying health concerns and create a tailored rehabilitation plan.

2. Establish Groundwork and Trust

Building a strong foundation of trust and respect with your OTTB is essential. Spend time working on groundwork exercises such as lunging, leading, and long-lining. These exercises help establish boundaries, communication, and develop a bond with your horse. Use positive reinforcement techniques, reward good behavior, and be patient as your horse learns and adapts to the new training methods.

3. Focus on Flatwork

Flatwork exercises are fundamental for any discipline you plan to pursue with your OTTB. Focus on developing balance, suppleness, and obedience through exercises like circles, transitions, and lateral movements. Engage the help of a professional trainer or experienced rider to guide you through the correct techniques and help you address any specific challenges that may arise.

4. Introduce Jumping Gradually

If your goal is to train your OTTB for jumping, it’s essential to introduce this discipline gradually. Start with ground poles and small crossrails to build confidence and develop the horse’s jumping technique. Gradually increase the height and complexity of the jumps as your horse becomes more comfortable and proficient. Remember to always prioritize safety and seek guidance from an experienced jumping trainer.

5. Incorporate Variety in Training

To keep your OTTB engaged and prevent boredom, incorporate a variety of exercises and activities into their training program. This can include trail riding, cavaletti work, hill work, and even introducing them to different environments such as shows or clinics. The more exposure your horse has to different situations, the more adaptable and well-rounded they will become.

6. Stay Consistent and Patient

Retraining an OTTB takes time, consistency, and patience. Understand that progress may not always be linear, and your horse may have good and bad days. Stick to a regular training schedule, be consistent in your approach, and celebrate small milestones along the way. Remember to give your horse breaks and always listen to their physical and mental needs.

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7. Seek Professional Guidance

If you are new to retraining OTTBs or encounter any challenges that you are unsure how to handle, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. Working with an experienced OTTB trainer or enrolling in clinics and workshops can provide valuable insights and tips tailored to your horse’s specific needs.


Retraining an OTTB horse is a journey that requires time, dedication, and a deep understanding of the breed’s unique characteristics. By allowing for proper rehabilitation, building trust through groundwork, focusing on flatwork, introducing jumping gradually, incorporating variety in training, staying consistent and patient, and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can successfully retrain your OTTB horse for a rewarding new career or discipline.

Finding the Right Saddle for an OTTB Horse

When it comes to riding an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) horse, finding the right saddle is essential for both the comfort of the horse and the rider. OTTBs have unique body shapes and needs, as they have been specifically trained for racing and may require special considerations when it comes to saddles. In this section, we will explore the key factors to consider when choosing a saddle for an OTTB horse.

Anatomical Considerations

OTTB horses often have a more pronounced wither due to their racing training. Therefore, it is crucial to find a saddle with sufficient clearance to accommodate the high withers. Look for a saddle that features a cutback or gusseted tree design, as this will provide the necessary clearance and prevent pressure points.

In addition to the withers, OTTBs tend to have a prominent shoulder. A saddle with a forward-cut or extended panel in the shoulder area can give the horse more freedom of movement and prevent restrictions during riding.

Saddle Fit

A proper saddle fit is essential to ensure the horse’s comfort and performance. A poorly fitting saddle can cause discomfort, pain, and even behavioral issues. To determine the correct saddle fit for an OTTB, consider the following:

  • Tree Width: The saddle’s tree should be wide enough to accommodate the horse’s back without pinching or causing pressure points.
  • Panel Shape: The panels should evenly distribute the rider’s weight and provide sufficient padding and support along the horse’s back.
  • Gullet Clearance: Ensure that there is enough clearance between the saddle’s gullet and the horse’s withers to avoid any rubbing or pinching.
  • Balance: The saddle should sit in a balanced position, neither tipping forward nor backward, to allow the rider to maintain proper posture and aid the horse’s movement.

Saddle Type

There are various saddle types available, and the choice depends on the rider’s discipline and personal preference. However, for OTTBs, certain saddle types can provide better fit and performance:

  • Close Contact Saddle: Close contact saddles have a minimal amount of padding between the rider and the horse, allowing for better communication and feel. They are a popular choice for jumping and eventing.
  • Adjustable Saddle: Adjustable saddles offer the flexibility to change the saddle’s fit as the horse’s body changes and develops. This can be beneficial for OTTBs as they often undergo physical changes during their transition from racing to riding.
  • Treeless Saddle: Treeless saddles provide a more flexible fit and can conform to the horse’s back shape. They can be a suitable option for OTTBs with unique body conformations.

Professional Saddle Fitting

While it is possible to assess saddle fit yourself, it is highly recommended to seek the assistance of a professional saddle fitter. A professional fitter has the expertise and tools to accurately evaluate the horse’s conformation and recommend the most suitable saddle options.

In summary, finding the right saddle for an OTTB horse requires considering the horse’s unique anatomical needs, ensuring proper fit, and selecting a suitable saddle type. Taking the time to find the perfect saddle will not only enhance the horse’s comfort and performance but also contribute to a better riding experience for the rider.

Taking Care of the Feet of an OTTB Horse

When it comes to taking care of an Off-the-Track-Thoroughbred (OTTB) horse, one of the most important aspects to consider is their feet. The feet of a horse play a significant role in their overall health and performance. In this section, we will explore the different factors to consider when it comes to foot care for an OTTB horse.

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Understanding the OTTB Horse’s Feet

An OTTB horse’s feet have likely undergone significant wear and tear during their racing career. They may have dealt with injuries, improper shoeing, or even neglected hoof care. As a result, it is essential to assess the condition of their feet and develop a comprehensive care plan.

Regular Farrier Visits

One of the most crucial aspects of foot care for an OTTB horse is regular visits from a skilled and experienced farrier. A farrier is a professional who specializes in trimming and shoeing horses. They can evaluate the horse’s feet, address any issues, and provide the necessary hoof care.

During the farrier visits, the farrier will trim the hooves to maintain the proper length and balance. They will also pay attention to the angle of the hooves and address any imbalances. In some cases, the farrier may recommend corrective shoeing options to help the OTTB horse achieve optimal foot health.

Proper Nutrition

Another essential aspect of foot care for an OTTB horse is providing them with a balanced and nutritious diet. The horse’s diet should include adequate amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals that support healthy hoof growth.

Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist can help you determine the best diet plan for your OTTB horse. They can recommend specific supplements or adjustments to their feed to promote healthy feet.

Daily Hoof Care

In addition to professional farrier visits and proper nutrition, daily hoof care is essential for an OTTB horse. Regularly inspecting and cleaning the hooves can help prevent issues such as thrush, abscesses, or other hoof infections.

When caring for the hooves, check for any signs of damage or abnormalities. Clean out any dirt or debris, and pick out the hooves to ensure there are no foreign objects lodged inside. It is also essential to pay attention to the frog, which is the soft, triangular structure in the center of the hoof. The frog should be healthy and have adequate contact with the ground.

Exercise and Turnout

Exercise and turnout play a vital role in maintaining healthy feet for an OTTB horse. Regular exercise can improve blood circulation in the hooves, which promotes healthy hoof growth. Turnout allows the horse to move around freely, which also aids in hoof health and prevents issues such as hoof contraction.

Ensure that your OTTB horse has access to a well-maintained pasture or paddock for turnout. It is essential to monitor the footing and make sure it is not too hard or uneven, as this can lead to hoof problems.

Monitoring and Addressing Issues

Regular monitoring of the OTTB horse’s feet is crucial to detect any potential issues early on. Look out for signs of lameness, swelling, or heat in the hooves. Any abnormalities should be promptly addressed by a veterinarian or a farrier.

Remember that each OTTB horse is unique, and their foot care needs may vary. It is important to work closely with professionals, such as a farrier and veterinarian, to develop a specific foot care plan that suits your OTTB horse’s needs.

In summary, taking care of the feet of an OTTB horse requires regular farrier visits, proper nutrition, daily hoof care, exercise, and turnout. By prioritizing foot health, you can ensure that your OTTB horse remains sound and happy for years to come.


What is an OTTB horse?

An OTTB horse stands for “Off the Track Thoroughbred.” It refers to a Thoroughbred horse that has retired from racing and is now transitioning into a new career, such as eventing, dressage, or pleasure riding.


In conclusion, an OTTB horse, also known as an “Off-The-Track Thoroughbred,” is a retired racehorse that has transitioned to a new career. With their athleticism, intelligence, and willingness to learn, OTTBs have become popular choices for various disciplines, including jumping, dressage, eventing, and trail riding. The process of retraining an OTTB can be both rewarding and challenging, but with patience, proper training, and a knowledgeable handler, these horses can excel in their new roles. Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a beginner rider, an OTTB could be a fantastic partner to consider for your equestrian pursuits. So why not give an OTTB horse a chance and experience the incredible potential they have to offer?