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 ilovehorses.net‘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.

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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.

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