Friday, April 26, 2013

What's In a Name?

Some days our OTTB's really live up to their name! 

Yesterday we assisted our neighbors in moving a group of cows and calves down the road to a new pasture.  Dale was mounted on a horse in training, barn name Columbus but his registered name is "Bold Roar" (Roar x Nellie's Crown by Crowning for you pedigree buffs).  Columbus has been in the program since last fall and knows his way around cows, but he learned a whole new lesson on this trip.

The most difficult part about the route we had these cattle on was the bridge that crosses the is an old wood plank structure and sits about 30-40 feet above the creek bed below.  But the worst part about this bridge is that it has no guard rails of any kind, just a roa-width of planks and a long drop to the creek below.  Needless to say, the cows were not terribly keen on making the crossing, which made for quite a lot of work for the riders.

The cows didn't want to walk up onto the bridge and the calves scattered as quail down the road shoulder. Our neighbor, Allen, was trying to "tail" a calf over the bridge, when the mama cow rushed in to claim her calf. Dale placed Columbus between the angry cow and Allen, with calf in tow, to keep Allen from being freight-trained. It was then that Dale found out the hard way that the cow wasn't bluffing, with his horse taking a charge from the cow right between the front legs. I think it scared Dale more than the horse!

Before they got everything sorted out, Columbus took a couple more charges to his flanks and face, created by someone else's miscreant cowdog getting into the fray. Even with an angry, bawling cow lobbing him right and left, he never lost his cool--which was a good thing as there was nowhere to escape to other than right off the side of the high bridge.

The rest of the ride went more smoothly, with the bold, in "Bold Roar's" name, clearly demonstrated.


The photos below show the same road and bridge during a cattle move last can't quite see the bridge (the trailer in the shot is on it), but you can see the depth of the channel it crosses in the first picture.


  1. People think OTTBs are these hyped up, high strung horses that will freak out and kill you in a moment. My OTTB hasn't been off the track too long, and he's one of the most level-headed horses I have ever met. He might get nervous about something, but he'll look to me and if I'm asking him to not react, by God, he will not freak out at it. They are truly incredible. I used to be a quarter horse girl, but I'm a definite OTTB convert!

  2. How do you ask him not to react? What keeps him calm when he feels nervous? I work with one that gets nervous being led/walking through desert trails.

    1. Withtout more info, it is tough to gauge. But in general it is the nature of the beast to react, which is why Fredrico Tesio wrote an entire book on breeding the successful racehorse and utilizing "Nervous Energy". After leaving the racetrack, it is unreasonable to expect the Thoroughbred's composition to change entirely, even with adequate turn-out time and a reduction of concentrated feed. Some individuals settle down more than others, or in a faster time frame, making set guidelines difficult to outline.
      One of the first things we do with an off-track Thoroughbred is turn him out for several months, so he loses the high level of fitness required in race training. The "letting down" process is best done in stages, to reduce the chance of injury and stress. One has to remember the "building up" of the equine athlete, when he began a training regime, was incremental, as is the reverse process.
      There may be concerns of physical injuries needing time to heal or restricted movement, as well as poor hoof conditions and drug withdrawal, that will dictate the schedule in each case.
      Often we are working with horses that have been in some form of training since they were consigned to a sale as yearlings. In some instances, the sale babies started a summer routine of lunging and reduced turnout in large groups, leading to limited time to socialize. After the fall sales, these youngsters may or may not have had little time off before the "backing" process began and winter training commenced. Two year old in training sales, with "breeze-up" shows, or a two year old campaign at the races, keeps the training barns busy, and before one knows it, the babies become "old" horses, if they stay sound enough and talented enough to roll through their conditions.