“A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.” -Ovid.
Thoroughbreds are the best-known breeds for horse racing. In general, this breed is considered “Hot-blooded.” That’s why they have incredible speed and agility.
Many people know these breeds only for racing. However, it might come as a surprise; these horses are also great for combined training, polo, dressage, fox hunting, and show jumping.
You can never doubt their stamina and strength when it comes to sports and training. However, there are several myths about thoroughbreds, especially after they retire. What are these myths? Let’s find out!
Myth No. 1: Thoroughbreds Can’t Perform As High As Other Breeds Can
Truth to be told, Off-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are actually good at training. They are quick to learn new cues and also have great work ethics. Just like any other breed, they are also built in different shapes and sizes. They can turn quickly, jump high and get low. That’s why they are capable of performing at the highest level in numerous disciplines.
For instance, OTTBs like Comstock, IA, Glenfly, Tight Lines, and others from different countries performed the best in the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-day Event. Similarly, many OTTBs are also used in the WPRA (Women’s Pro Rodeo Association). They were at the highest level in barrel racing.
Myth No. 2: OTTBs Are Spooky
In an event or on the track, they have to deal with heavy machinery, starting gates, crowd, loud music, other animals, camera flashes, and numerous other things. They are just as spooky as any other horse breed is. Therefore, they are generally trained to be desensitized to all the distractions and noises.
In fact, due to their training and exposure, off-track Thoroughbreds can easily transition between a variety of disciplines. For example, extreme cowboy races, western ranch riding, mounted shooting, and others.
Myth No. 3: They Are Very Difficult To Handle
It is the most common myth that surrounds OTTBs. But it is not true. Most people have only seen them during the race at significant events like Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes. This has created the impression that thoroughbreds are very difficult to handle. But the truth is totally different.
When they are on track, they tend to get more excited to run. You can easily see their excitement and energy as they hop and prance around in the paddock. It is their natural pre-race behavior. And most people assume this behavior as “Difficult to handle.”
Contrary to this, if you observe them post-race, you’ll notice that they are very easy to handle.
Apart from this, the way their jockey and trainers handle them is also crucial. They need to be bathed and exercised regularly. Similarly, it is essential to provide all the nutrients to them. Generally, they require 6 nutrients to stay healthy and strong. These include water, fats, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Typically, they need good-quality hay at least twice a day. Besides that, just like any other animal, keeping them hydrated, especially during winters, is essential. For that, using heated water troughs that can withstand cold weather conditions is recommended. It will ensure that the horse has constant access to the water.
If they are given proper nutrition, handling and training them is just a piece of cake.
Myth No. 4: They Are Not Suitable For Beginners Or Children
Well, it is not a breed thing. Rather it depends on the horse’s personality. Generally, horses that have more laid-back and forgiving personalities are suitable for beginners or children. Luckily, OTTBs are like these. As they tend to retire early from the track, they like to go at their own pace. Moreover, they become friendly with the people very easily. This is why training beginners and children is effortless with them.
Note: As mentioned above, to be or not to be suitable for beginners depends upon the horse’s personality. Just because you have heard of a bad training incident doesn’t mean that the whole breed is bad. Instead of believing in such rumors, you should ask the trainer or caretaker of the horse about it.
Myth No. 5: All OTTBs Are Hard Keepers
NO! Not ALL off-track Thoroughbreds are hard keepers. On the other hand, many track trainers state that after training and adjustments in the surroundings, the metabolism of OTTBs can be changed. You just need to pay attention to their exercising, schedule, and diet. In addition to this, a no grain, alfalfa, and high-quality hay diet works great for this breed.
If you see any hard keeper OTTBs, it is because their diet is poor or because they don’t get adequate amounts of water. Apart from this, there could be numerous other reasons that the horse is losing weight. Some of the main reasons are extreme weather conditions, dental issues, parasites, hay quality, and changes in the pecking order.
Myth No. 6: They Have Soundness Issues
Another common stigma that surrounds OTTBs is that they are raced until their strength and body become unusable. In reality, most of the OTTBs retire from their careers without any kind of riding restrictions. Generally, the decision to retire any horse, not only thoroughbred, is made to improvise their physical shape. It gives them an opportunity to stay sound.
Moreover, some OTTBs are sound enough to race 50 mile+ endurance rides. And they still can be ridden the next day- just like any other breed.
Myth No. 7: OTTBs Race Connection Leave Them After Their Retirement
Needless to say, it is an apparent myth. Every trainer, breeder, owner, and jockey cares about their horse. They always prioritize the best interest of their horse, no matter what discipline they observe. They have invested their time and care. So, if they leave them after retirement, it is only to keep them healthy and strong.
To Sum It All Up!
All these are the common myths about the off-track Thoroughbred. However, none of these are true. They are a great breed, and with the proper training and nutrition, you can help them stay healthy and strong, making them great partners. So, don’t forget to show your affection to OTTBs.