There have been a few very interesting and inspired posts recently in the horsey blogosphere about the suitability of the Off the Track Throughbred (OTTB) for Adult Amateur (AA) riders.
SprinklerBandits: Case Against the OTTB
She Moved to Texas: Case For the OTTB
Both have excellent points, but generally speaking, I agree more strongly with the case FOR the OTTB than against. Bottom line, I think the real point of the original "case against the OTTB" is not anything to do with Thoroughbreds themselves: it is that adult amateur riders must acknowledge and respect their own limitations and find a horse that compliments their ability and shortcomings.
This, of course, requires people to put on their big boy/girl pants and
be adults about this. Which, surprisingly, can be exceptionally
difficult for some, given that they may be making their first ever horse
purchase, or maybe they're doing it completely on their own, and/or
gotten completely wrapped up in the overly romanticized marketing of the
recent OTTB movement. It's easy to look at the affordable price tags,
or to get emotionally committed to "rescuing" (blagh) an OTTB (hint: not
all racehorses need to be rescued!).
Here are my original thoughts about the increasing popularity of the off the track Thoroughbred and the benefits and shortfalls of the movement.
There have always been people who go out and buy an inappropriate horse. There will always be people who go out and buy an inappropriate horse. This has nothing to do with a horse breed itself, so why are we labeling OTTBs as widely inappropriate for adult amateurs? Thoroughbreds as a breed are so vast in size, shape, temperament and suitability, that it's impossible to paint them with a broad stroke. As I stated in my original post linked above, I honestly believe there IS a Thoroughbred out there for every rider. It's just that perhaps the more timid, less skilled riders need a TB that is older and highly experienced; you won't find that on the backside of a racetrack. I think there is a small population of true amateurs that can take a horse off the backside and bring it along into a new career completely on their own. Those people can and they should, if that is what they desire.
Other amateurs who are less skilled, but who desperately want a Thoroughbred need to understand their own abilities as a rider. Where are they strong? What are their weaknesses? Are they confident on a green horse? Are they experienced enough to train and be a leader to that green horse? Are they working with a professional that has experience with Thoroughbreds (particularly with those off the track)? If the rider is not skilled AND confident enough to handle a green horse, especially one recently off the track, then that should not be an option, no matter how pretty the horse or how affordable they are. People who do not buy a suitable horse based on their needs are putting both themselves and the horse's future at serious risk. Period.
Know yourself. Be brave enough to admit what you can and cannot handle, and don't put yourself and your future horse in a bad position from the beginning by overhorsing yourself.