Adopting an OTTB : Change of Pace & Diet


Retired from the track, Ready to Perform

You may have heard of ‘OTTB’ horses, and what that means is an off the track Thoroughbred, or in shorthand, a retired racehorse. Adopting an OTTB  turned to pleasure horses or polo ponies or even used for dressage, hunting or jumping. They’re not necessarily the best choice for a first horse, but for the experienced rider, you’d be giving a great horse and second lot in life. When a horse leaves the track, they’re often quite young, incredibly fit, eager to training, and have digestive issues. Gastric ulcers are very common in OTTBs due to the way they’re fed, trained and worked. With the right medication and feed, your adoption of an OTTB horse will reward you for many years after.

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OTTB will reward you for many years when healthy

OTTB horses have an extremely high metabolic rate due to all their lean muscle, so even though you won’t be working your new adoptee as hard as he was working, he’ll still need a lot of sweet feed until he gets used to a new diet. You should slowly switch your new horse into a new diet, little changes as you go. Wait until he gets settled into his new environment and that stress is gone before you switch around what he eats. Race horses get free access to grazing or grass hays and you should certainly continue to encourage this behaviour. Forage is crucial to a healthy digestive system! If you’re worried about your new friend keeping on weight, you can mix-in alfalfa to help keep shape.


Adopting an OTTB and changing feed

A good bet on changing out the sweet feed they’re used to is to switch to a senior horse grain slowly and then from there to a regular grain. Just remember that lots of little feedings are so much better for a horse’s digestive system than big feedings. Big feedings can overwhelm the small intestine as well as leave the stomach empty for long periods, both being causes of gastric ulcers, and OTTB horses are already susceptible!

Get Digestion right as soon as possible to get the best from him

Chances are, your new friend has come to you with digestive worries if not ulcers and a safe bet is to start them off with a pre and probiotic supplements such as AbActive. After your veterinarian has surveyed your new horse, and probably scoped them to find the condition of their stomach, you’ll probably be looking into a proton pump inhibitor such as omeprazole. Abler offers AbPrazole, which comes in an easy to dose and track, flavourless, formula that will neutralize acid production to help your horse heal.

With good health comes a good, long, partnership no matter your goals adopting an OTTB is very rewarding.

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About Author

Betsy OReilly, Managing Editor of Blog Abler dedicated to Equine Ulcers. Born and bred in country Victoria, Australia, is a lifelong horse owner who has dabbled in Pony Club and Horse Racing. Enjoys hearing and writing about Equine Ulcers.

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