EN Today: Why does my OTTB (insert weird quirk here)?, volume III

Lauren Nethery is back with the third installment in her weekly series which answers the whats and whys of off-track thoroughbred behavior.  Thanks to Lauren for writing, and thank you for reading. -Visionaire

From Lauren:

“Why Does My OTTB (insert weird quirk here)?” Volume III

Have you ever just been so besotted with your OTTB that you feel the entire world simply MUST know how wonderful he or she is, including their former connections?  Do you woefully hand over the debit care for 3 bags of feed when you only really need 2 but know that your OTTB will waste at least ½ a scoop a day with all of his eating theatrics?  These woes are common place in the world of the OTTB and I am here to do my best to answer all of your questions about these sometimes awkward, sometimes irritating, but always loveable creatures that you have always been too embarrassed, afraid, or freaked out to ask.  Enjoy!

Star Pupil just won his first show class!  How can I contact his former trainer to let him know?

I often speak with riders who desire to share their OTTB’s success with former connections in that horses life.  In reality, more racehorse trainers don’t know the difference between a cavaletti and a capriole much less an oxer and…well, an ox.  In general, I discourage people from reaching out to former connections mostly because they simply do not grasp the show horse world.  Many big time trainers will only remember horses that were remarkable either for their talent (most of these horses don’t become show horses anyway) or for their difficulty and/or lack of talent and if your horse was the latter, they may not exactly have warm and fuzzy feelings toward them.  I do, however, encourage OTTB’s owners to reach out to the owners of their horses during their racing careers if they are just undeniably compelled to connect with that horses past life.  Most owners remember and care about the horses they own and will appreciate hearing about their success.  They may even have half-siblings or similarly conformed/bred horses that may be for sale.  To contact these owners, search your horses Jockey Club name on www.equibase.com (there will be a search box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage).  When you find your horse, his or her connections as of their last start will be listed at the top of the page.  From there, you can then search the owners name in the same search box on the Equibase homepage (choose ‘owner’ instead of ‘horse’ from the drop down menu).  This search will return results indicating that owners’ most recent starts and you can then call the racing office at the track where that owner most recently started horses and they will likely be able to direct you to contact information.  If not, Google thoroughly and you will likely at least locate an email address.

How do I find pictures of/information about/details concerning Question Mark’s history/breeding/racing career?

There are numerous resources for this and I will list a few of my favorites below:

Firstly, pull your horse up on www.equibase.com (see instructions above).  From here, you can view his connections, racing history, racing charts, racing videos (in most cases), and earnings.

Also, the Breeder’s Cup nomination page can be useful to search horses by dam and year of birth if you don’t know their given Jockey Club name or if, for instance, you rode an unnamed 2 y/o at some point and wonder whatever happened to them.  https://members.breederscup.com/nominations/checkeligibility.aspx

To better research the family of your horse, to view very detailed past performance information, and to find information about siblings of your horse, check out www.equineline.com.  Their reports do cost money but only a few dollars here and there.

Once you have ascertained your OTTB’s race record, you can contact the tracks at which your horse won by calling their main number (simply Google the track name) and ask to speak with the track photographer.  From there, you can order pictures of your OTTB’s wins (please have the dates of these wins handy).  Pictures are typically 8 x 10, include 2 to 3 different shots, and are between $25 and $50.  It is also occasionally fun to get pictures of races in which your horse ran a close second or third.

Piggly Wiggly throws his food EVERYWHERE during dinner time.  What can I do to curtail this irritating, wasteful habit?  (compliments of EN reader Susan Goepfert)

Most racehorses are fed in the corner in large round feed tubs fitted with feed saver rings (see link) that really are very effective at keeping the feed in the tub. Thus, a lot of horses learn that they can eat aggressively without risking any loss of food.


Balloon Boy has a nasty habit of holding his breath when he feels “trapped”, particularly when he is in being in the cross ties having the girth or side reins tightened.  He sometimes even panics, stumbles backwards, and falls over.  I had never heard of this before, is it a common OTTB trait?  (compliments of EN reader Christina Sharkey)

While the breath holding is one of the weirdest, it is not entirely unheard of. 1 in 500 maybe. It may be helpful to know that racehorses, after being straight tied in their stall and groomed, are saddled very loosely because it may be 10 minutes or may be an hour before they are ridden. The girth is only tightened once the rider is in the saddle (99.9% of all racehorses are accustomed to having a rider legged up, they do not learn to be mounted from the ground thus negating a tight girth).  Hope this helps a little. Also keep in mind that racehorses, when getting saddled to race, are saddled on the walk/while moving and mounted on the walk in many cases. Good luck!

Why does Tickle Puss wiggle and squirm when we shave his muzzle?

Muzzle shaving is very hit or miss in the racing world. Pick 10 Grade 1 barns and 6 will probably shave muzzles. Perhaps he has never had it done before. Or has a tickle-prone nose. I do find that horses who have been twitched a lot (a daily occurrence at a lot of stables for any number of reasons) tend to have more sensitive noses.

I do hope that some of my answers to the questions above have demystified atleast one of your OTTB’s strange quirks and I encourage you to send any further, horse-specific questions to me via email ( [email protected]) for more in-depth and on-point answers.  Material for questions is really running low so please, dearest EN readers, keep those questions coming and please don’t be discouraged if I don’t answer immediately, I will get back to you I promise! Go Eventing and go gallop a (former) racehorse!

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