Bits & Bytes Farm

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We offer affordable Thoroughbred horses for sale from race owners and trainers who care where their horses retire.

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December 14th, 2017

What to Expect When Riding Your OTTB for the First Time

Iron Run - First Ride March 2017

So you just got an off-the-track Thoroughbred! What do you do now? Wait to ride? No. Get on and RIDE! These horses are used to being ridden every day so why would you not ride them? The exception is if you are getting a horse with an injury that needs time off. Hopefully, you have purchased your horse from a reputable seller and know the history of the Thoroughbred you have purchased. That is one of the many advantages of purchasing a Thoroughbred from Bits & Bytes Farm. Here is a good article that encapsulates our thoughts about what to expect from riding your new OTTB! 

Here are a few of the highlights

  • OTTBs thrive on work! They want to have a job
  • Start in an enclosed area for safety with someone to hold him and be your safety person
  • Let the horse trot off. Do not try to contain the energy — not on the first ride and not ever. Bottling up the energy will result in an explosion as either a buck or a rear. Always more forward when confronted with nervous energy.
  • Stay out of his mouth! Making strong contact can be a GO signal to an ex-racehorse.
  • Stay off his back if you feel safe enough to canter. Many Thoroughbreds have sore backs from racing and will need chiropractic help. Riders at the track stay in two-point so that is what your Thoroughbred will expect.
  • Reward the horse with praise and a pat. Reassure him that all is well.
  • Let the horse guide you as to what he is ready for. Sometimes we don’t canter on the first or second or third rides. Sometimes we do. Walk the horse over poles, open a gate or go for a ride in the woods if you feel he is safe. Some of the horses we have started for our buyers have done their first canter out in a large pasture. 
  • Don’t push for perfection. Let the first ride be positive and fun for you and the horse. My favorite saying is, “Never go too fast with the training or you can scare the horse or yourself.” 

Good luck with your first ride and if you are still looking for that Retired Racehorse Project horse or just want a great buddy to have fun with, call us. We are here to help before and after the sale.

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