horse rescue

What is an OTTB?

An OTTB is a brave soul, an animal with movement in his bones, an athlete of tremendous power; but most of all, an OTTB is a horse to love.

The Head and Not the Heart by Natalie Keller Reinert

I’m honored to welcome author Natalie Reinert as‘s first guest blogger. One of Natalie’s passions is Off-the-Track-Thoroughbreds, or retired racehorses that go on to other careers. Check out Natalie’s novel The Head and Not the Heart, which has 5 stars on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. — Kristin Berkery

by Natalie Reinert

You’ve heard of OTTBs, of course. You have a friend with a friend who bought a horse off the track. She told you they’re those hot, crazy, fire-breathing dragons you see leaping onto their owner’s heads at horse shows. They’re those mad, spooky animals that take off when a branch snaps beneath a hoof, turning a trail ride into a tantrum. They’re those fragile, sensitive beasts that break out in hives when they’re touched by a butterfly.

Neville Bardos Thoroughbred horse

Neville Bardos, an OTTB who avoided slaughter and survived a barn fire, pictured with Boyd Martin. He is a possible candidate for the 2012 U.S. Olympic equestrian team. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld/USEA

But wait, that can’t be the whole story. OTTBs are making the news these days, from the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge to the high-profile stories on miracle horses like Neville Bardos, the Australian OTTB whose will to not just live but get back to work as a 4* event horse has made headlines in equine and mass media.


Ferdinand’s Legacy Saves the Lives of Ex-Racehorses

by Kristin Berkery

Ferdinand winning the 1986 Kentucky Derby with Willie Shoemaker aboard.

I remember watching Ferdinand win the 1986 Kentucky Derby on TV. It was a surprise win, with the chestnut colt coming from last place and maneuvering, under the expert hands of Willie Shoemaker, through a hole near the rail and pulling ahead of the leaders.

Ferdinand wasn’t a brilliant runner — he lost the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and his interest seemed to wane the moment he took the lead in a race, but he was named 1987 U.S. Horse of Year after beating Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner, in that year’s Breeders’ Cup.