Many deserving OTTBs are overlooked due to minor issues that limit them to flatwork or low jumping only. The OTTBs with some limitations (due to sports injuries and/or conformation issues) often have a negative image as being flawed or unsuitable mounts. They can need initial rehabilitation followed by consistent conditioning and retraining — which can seem daunting, expensive and lengthy (particularly for amateur adopters/owners). At the same time, professional horse trainers often avoid working with OTTBs with limitations and discourage clients from considering them (due to lack of commercial value as resale prospects).
Yet the vast majority of these OTTBs with minor rehab issues make wonderful mounts for many lower level disciplines and riding activities. Their injuries are typically uncomplicated to rehab, with excellent prognosis for flatwork careers and many years of happy service. The temperament, willingness and heart of these OTTBs are especially good matches for adult amateur owners with trainers. They just need to understand that the rehabilitation process can be a straightforward process well worth the investment for a reliable, nice horse.
The Makeover Project
To combat this stigma and its misperceptions, LOPE wants to reframe the work of rehabbing and developing “less than perfect” OTTBs as a rewarding journey of learning for adopters/owners and the young professionals (trainers, veterinarians) who work with the horses.
Our Rehabilitation Horse Makeover will launch a long-term rehabilitation and retraining initiative with selected “less than perfect” OTTBs in partnership with horsemanship education leaders and young professionals in the horse industry. We will create a practical rehab/training program for those ex-racehorses based on best practices — while also teaching prospective OTTB adopters/owners about rehabilitation, retraining and career options for OTTBs with special needs.
We will select and highlight a group of OTTBs with specific rehabilitation needs for the program. The progress of the horses will be chronicled in fun, story-telling detail via blogging, video production, ebook series and media outreach.
The details of the rehabilitation and retraining process will be fully shared, with filmed interviews with the young veterinarians, trainers, LOPE interns and farriers who are working with each OTTB in the program. In addition, LOPE will consult with national experts (veterinary associations, college equine study programs, quality clinicians) to document best practices in rehabilitation/retraining as way to demystify the process for prospective OTTB adopters/owners.
Makeover Timeline and Goals
The project is designed as a six-month program to begin as of Dec 15, 2017. Detailed rehab and retraining plans will be documented for each horse by January 1, 2017. Lengthier videos introducing the horses and their rehab/retraining “team members” will be posted in mid-January, with shorter, update videos posting weekly after that. The horses’ progress in the program is planned to coincide with the spring 2018 schooling show and clinic season (with the goal of having each horse attend at least one such event by May 2018). Project completion is expected by July 1, 2018, with each horse placed into a suitable career path and home.
Through this project, we can promote OTTBs with special needs, inspire people to consider OTTBs that aren’t perfect resale prospects, demonstrate rehab/retraining techniques, support current OTTB adopters/owners in their education process and generate excitement about OTTBs in general. At the same time, we will be providing quality rehab and foundation training for the horses — as well as promoting the desirability of less than perfect OTTBs as wonderful “diamonds in the rough” for many disciplines and riding activities.
If you (or your business) would like to sponsor the Rehabilitation Horse Makeover, please get in touch.