My Personal Off The Track Thoroughbred Adoption Story

My Off TheTrack Thoroughbred Adoption Story Begins With Reservations And Reward.

by Raina Paucar  

Bahamut and Raina during a training session ©Angie Sanchez

My horse, "Bahamut" is an ex-racehorse, otherwise known as an Off the Track Thoroughbred or OTTB. As a Thoroughbred racehorse, he has a record of zero wins from ten starts. In horse racing terms, he's a maiden-a claimer at that. My husband rode him during his last career start. As a result of being friendly with the trainer, he told my husband in so many words, this is a horse for your wife. A week or maybe two weeks later, I got the message. I fall in love with horses easily. I told myself this was a proceed-with-caution situation. So, I went to see this horse.

The trainer took me over to his stall. I stood in front of him and looked him over. My first impression was his unique appearance. A chestnut (chest-NUT), over 16 hands (wow he's big), a white blaze (nice chrome), some white in both eyes (OMG, he's crazy) and an unusual looking sock on his right front leg (looked like someone carelessly threw paint on it). His conformation was solid with thick, strong bones (no wonder he can't run, he looks like a Warmblood). His temperament was sweet, and he loved affection. Overall, I was impressed by his physical attributes and attitude.

I went to see him many times, with gifts of peppermints and carrots. He would knicker every time I came into the barn. Of course, I was a walking treat wagon.

The next logical step was to ride him and see if he was sound or not. He was a complete gentlemen from the moment I got on his back. He galloped beautifully, a long smooth stride.  The only issue was a slight shortness in the left front. He’d been x-rayed and I didn't feel it would be a longterm problem. In fact, when I had him shod, the farrier found his hoof was a little bruised (thanks intuition).

After galloping him, I was really excited. I knew I was taking this horse. I'd been looking for a versatile horse that could do dressage and jumping, here he was.

I called my good friend, who has her own OTTB, and told her all about him. We had lunch and I brought her out to the track to meet him. Well, things were going nicely at the meet-and-greet until he nipped my chin and then bit her boot. I had some serious reservations about his behavior that day.

I thought it over for a couple of days, and went to see him again. I stayed in the stall with him and looked in his eyes for the longest time. I decided I would take him. I'd forgiven the men in my life for far more irritating behavior, so why not give him a chance? Besides, you can correct most issues with horses. I talked to the trainer and adopted my equine friend. I made boarding arrangements and sealed the deal.

Raina desensitizing Bahamut with the whip ©Angie Sanchez

Raina long lining Bahamut  ©Angie Sanchez

Now, we are training from the "ground up."  I believe strongly in the fundamentals of ground work, no matter what your eventual goals are with your horse. I've been re-reading books I've kept over the years and some my mother has handed down to me. Right now I'm reading, "Schooling Horses In Hand" by Richard Hinrichs and "Reflections On Equestrian Art" by Nuno Oliveira. I've been successfully applying these techniques to my daily training sessions with my horse.

I'll be sharing the journey of our training and the growth of our relationship right here on Please join me as I provide insight into what it's like to train a former racehorse for a second career, including helpful tips and resources and my personal up and downs with a horse I've grown to love.

Considering adopting your own ex-racehorse? Here are some great rescue organizations with horses looking for their new home:

Thoroughbred Connect


New Vocations


Unwanted Horse Coalition

About the Author: Raina Paucar is an adventure loving equestrian and female jockey. She likes to ride and compete in many disciplines, explore new places, read great books, gadget hoard, play games, take pictures and write. She currently exercises racehorses and works with her own off-the-track-Thoroughbred (OTTB). Her career in media focuses on equestrian lifestyle. You can add her to your Google+ circles, subscribe on Facebook and follow on Twitter.