My first book review is of Beyond The Track by Anna Morgan Ford who is the Program Director for New Vocations.
This book is a basic training guide for OTTBs. It includes progressive training stages and leaves the reader at a place where training diverges to specific discipline needs.
The book covers the following:
– What a racehorse knows coming off the track and how to use that training to your advantage. This includes a basic overview of their life at the track.
– A chapter on retirement and adoptions.
– Analyzing lameness and other physical issues. Obviously this is no substitute for a vet, but it’s a nice overview of some very basic issues many OTTBs come off the track with.
– The next section is on getting your horse home and acclimated to the new environment. This includes information on trailering, feeding requirements, handling an OTTB, and turnout (including information on finding a pasture buddy that is suitable for the horse).
– The next very short chapter is about developing a training plan by analyzing your goals for the horse and where the horse is physically and mentally. It asks some good questions that the reader needs to consider before moving forward.
– Then comes ground manners. This section includes information on biting, leading, tying, grooming (including dreaded spray bottles), bathing, hoof care, and skin problems.
– The next two chapters are on lunging. They explain how to take the horse from basic or free lunging to lunging with side reins. Many OTTBs have never lunged before, so these chapters are important.
– Then comes tips for the first ride. This includes suggestions such as having a second person to help, saddling, mounting, dismounting, and how to handle any misbehavior that might occur due to track habits. The most important thing of course (just like with any horse) is to keep the horse moving forward.
– The next chapter is about training under saddle and includes several tips. This includes a lot of information about how differently the horses at the track are trained and problems you will likely run into while retraining. It offers suggestions to getting around those problems and successfully retraining your OTTB to be a good riding horse.
– Then the book moves on to more advanced training situations such as using ground poles, trail riding and taking a horse to a show or clinic to introduce it to a new atmosphere.
– The last chapter is full of stories of specific success stories retraining OTTBs.
I think this is a solid handbook for anyone thinking about purchasing an OTTB either off the track or from a rescue. It is a fairly basic book, but it also covers a lot of information. It is good for various levels of skill and experience with OTTBs and it is nice to have on hand.
This book has great demonstration photos. It is a good length and covers a variety of issues that you are bound to encounter with an OTTB. It includes a great explanation of what a racehorse knows already and how to use that to your advantage. It also includes many great training tips.
My only real issue with the book is that it can be repetitive at certain points in the book. It also can be a bit obvious to trainers or owners with a lot of experience working with OTTBs.
This book is a great handbook to have in your collection if you work with OTTBs, want to purchase one, or are just interested in knowing how they are different from other horses. This book, along with a few others, can really show incite into the lives of the racehorse and how to transition them safely and effectively.
You can purchase this book here. A portion of the proceeds goes to support the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.