I am a member of many OTTB groups on Facebook and some of the things I see posted there just make me so cranky. Like how people show pictures of their OTTB racing and a picture of them jumping or doing dressage or giving rides to kids and say "oh look how far he's come." Thoroughbreds are great horses. They are quick learners and do exactly what they're trained to do. I have 3 Throroughbreds, 2 on track in race training and 1 who will be at the track this fall, and any of them RIGHT NOW could pretty much give pony rides. I have one that is racing tomorrow afternoon and I could take him off the track right now and win ribbons in Training or First Level dressage the next day. The 2 and 3 year olds pretty much ground tie. None of them ever buck or bite to be mean (baby racehorses bite but it's a playful thing) and half the time I don't even use a lead rope with them let alone a chain shank. My favorite thing is when people say that OTTBs are spooky and unpredictable and they don't know a lot. Well let me tell you something, TBs see more in their short time at the track than most horses see their whole lives. And when you get a FIT horse off the track and you let them sit in a field or in a stall and they have all that pent up energy then yea, they're going to get a little nuts. It's no different than having a human child with too much energy. And yes, now an than you get a TB that's just plain stupid or hyper or ill-behaved. Sometimes it's because it's just how the horse was handled and trained early in life, or how they were treated on the track (most racehorses get treated like kings, even if they aren't Derby winners and are claimers) or maybe that's just how they are. But I've also seen "sane" breed horses that are nuts, bucking, hyper, ill-behaved.
But people that are ignorant about how TBs are handled and trained and always jump to the conclusions that they are roughed up and handled badly and that they are all damaged goods because of that. I've worked at the track since I was 19, that's 6 years. I have seen more beautifully-mannered TBs both on and off the track than not. Okay, yea. We've gotten a couple in to break that were demons dressed as racehorses, but we've gotten even more that were basically ponies (and by ponies I mean the horses that take the TBs to the gate before a race. Ponies are usually extremely sane and calm and, might I add, bombproof). When someone that doesn't know a lot about the breed or their common daily routine, well, it's a recipe for disaster. How hard is it to go to the track and ask around about the daily routine of a racehorse, how their broke, what common handling practices are and WHY. Assumption will get you hurt when dealing with ANY breed.
So now you know I'm a huge Thoroughbred advocate. Mostly I just want to protect them from ignorance. If you want to adopt or buy and OTTB, do the research. Be open-minded. Go visit the track. Walk horses for a couple of days to get a feel for the breed. They're good horses. Amazing horses. Versatile, SMART, gentle and athletic.
Oh, and another thing. Race horses DO learn all gates. Don't get on your OTTB and go "oooh I have to teach him there are gates between walk and gallop". That's so stupid. If you've ever watched horses train, they learn ALL gates. They learn breaks. They jog some days, lope others and gallop on others. I promise you your OTTB knows how to WTC. Just try relaxing, sitting back and asking correctly. Also, racehorses are pretty much exclusively ridden in simple snaffles, which is more than I can say for most jumpers or barrel horses, etc (my QH can't even jump in a snaffle! He'd run off with me! But I bet I could bring my racehorses off the track and jump him tomorrow in a snaffle and he'd be totally mellow).
And racehorses, for the most part, DO want to race. They are adrenaline junkies. They're like Ricky Bobby, they wanna go fast! The whips the jockeys carry are poppers, making more noise than anything else and they can and will be fined or suspended for excessive whipping. So you can just jump off that bandwagon.
What else? I could go on and on about the ignorant, annoying things I see on Facebook and other online sources about OTTBs/Racehorses. I'm sure I'll have to edit this at some point and add more. I'd just post this on my Facebook or on one of those Facebook groups but then I'll get people that have never stepped foot on the backside or have never raised a TB from a baby to racing telling ME that I'm wrong. I have a DEGREE in this, in Thoroughbred Management. I own/train/race/retrain my own TBs. So I live it and breathe it. I'm not saying there aren't bad horses and there aren't scumbags trainers on the track. But not as many as you want to believe.
And I'm sure you pretty much thing I'm an arrogant woman now, but I just had to get this all out of my system. I love TBs. I have my whole life and now they are pretty much my whole life. I could post 1000 pictures in this blog post to prove every single point I've made here but it would take soooo long and take up soooo much room. :P but if you need proof, just ask me for it! :P
And wish us luck. 9th race at Churchill tomorrow, 10 horse. I'm hoping the big horse can break his maiden this time!