Horse Shopping OTTB Style

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I have had a few people reach out to me about how I found and chose Annie. The answer I have is that I got really freaking lucky. Finding a nice horse off the track that is suitable for your chosen discipline can be a huge gamble. Even more so is a horse that could probably do will in a bunch of rings. jaeckle-2-2More often than not you are lucky if you can get a video of the horse trotting in hand. A good trot doesn’t mean a nice canter or a fantastic jump though. Another thing to consider is that you 99% of the time can’t take the horse from the track or in a resale barn on trial. You won’t know if the horse has any vices (cough cribbing cough) until you have them home in your own barn. Though that is really a risk with any horse purchase.

Annie Pre Ownership 2015 1 from Hillary McMichael on Vimeo.

Annie Pre Ownership 2015 2 from Hillary McMichael on Vimeo.

The videos above were the only videos that I was able to see before purchasing Annie. I was lucky to see her ridden at all. (Please do not comment on the rider as it is not me)

I personally liked her trot (nice suspension?) in the video and she seemed to have really good head on her shoulders. Her price was pretty unbeatable (though not quite as good as Henny) and I decided to go for it.

IMG_0442A lot of people choose not to do a pre purchase on a horse they buy off the track. For me personally that was too much of a risk. I wanted to have some security in knowing that even if I didn’t like Annie I could turn around and sell her to get my money back.IMG_8844

This meant a basic exam and then some simple xrays for Annie so that I could have a baseline. My PPE ended up costing about 65% of the purchase price. Buh bye money hello peace of mind!LCP_5377

Where should you look?

The list above barely scratches the surface of places that you could find an OTTB. I would suggest asking for video on any and all of the horses that strike your fancy as the more you look at the more you will know what you do and don’t like.


It can take some patience but I think that anyone with the time/experience (or with the right trainer) can probably bring along a thoroughbred for their chosen discipline. It’s all a matter of finding the right horse for you though. Do you guys have any other hidden TB locating gems?

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  1. Word of mouth! That’s how I found Frankie-a friend of a friend had him and his info got passed along. I also looked at a lot of horses that were freebies via word of mouth. I just talked to everyone I knew who was connected to the eventing or TB world that I was looking.

  2. I got Yankee from New Vocations and back then (12 years ago) they didn’t really have much in the ways of video. I knew I wanted him from photos alone and how sweet he was on the ground. No regrets. He also was rock bottom price of $400. SOLD. Thinking back, not the best way for a 14 year old girl to find her next eventing horse, but I got lucky.

    Bacardi I “found” on Facebook. I use air quotes because I actually knew him through a girl I followed on social media (instagram) and a year after following her and6 months after owning him, she posted him for sale on FB and I immediately told her I wanted him.

    I actually never “shopped around”. I found Yankee on accident while googling OTTBs and B was a spur of the moment purchase field by my love for him over social media.

    Both worked out pretty damn good, though I paid WAY too much for B.

    I think you covered a ton of good places to find them! One more to add, ReRun out of NY! The owner used to run New Vocations and then started her own when life moved her to NY. She’s amazing and has solid quality OTTBs, I love her!

  3. Shopping with a professional is definitely my preference, for the most part. This means not getting TBs straight of the track, but usually there is some intermediary. I agree with you that a pre-purchase exam on a horse you are buying directly from the track is the way to go!

  4. I got all mine from a connection at the track… she has been so good to me. I always get them sight unseen and just trust my source, other than Penny who was a resale through a horse dealer friend of mine. Just got major lucky with her.

  5. annie is super cool – you definitely chose well! i like to think that there’s an ottb somewhere in my future but haven’t fully decided how or when or what that process might look like. thanks for compiling that list tho!

  6. I got Romey from Thoroughbred Sporthorses. They get the horses from the track (I imagine for free, but I’m not certain on that) and rehab/re-start them as necessary and then sell them all for the same price. It’s not much different than buying direct from the track in that you can’t go try them. You buy from photos and a video. You do have a certain amount of time to return the horse if it isn’t working out, but only for an exchange, not for a refund. The only part I wasn’t thrilled with was that you have to use their vet for the pre purchase. You can opt to have the report and the x-rays forwarded to your own vet though. It turns out that my horse wasn’t 100% healed from his injury like their vet seemed to think he was. But it’s nothing too serious and he should be just fine. So I guess my suggestion would be if they tell you there’s an injury, make sure to find out what exactly it is, and send ALL diagnostics to your own vet. I didn’t have an ultra sound done, but I should have to be better informed. I don’t feel I was lied to, the injury was 100% disclosed, I just wasn’t proactive enough on my part.
    They get some beautiful, well-bred horses, and I wouldn’t deter someone from looking there.

  7. I’ve gotten all mine as rejects from my college’s OTTB re-training class. They’re already let down, I know the history, and I trust my old adviser to be upfront with me about any vices or soundness issues they may come with.

    1. Yes. Racehorse trainer gets you a lot of ins!You get to see the ponies on a daily basis if you want, and get to work with them on and off the track. And sometimes, they give you free horses if you are extra cool 😉

  8. We got our OTTB from a rescue group here in California called Neighsavers. We don’t have her anymore, but we like to support the organization by going to their annual charity luncheon.