Update: I judged him unfairly and he was actually more than happy to wander around on the buckle at the walk. Couple of trot steps away from the mounting block and then that was it. Such a good boy!
About a week ago I picked up a new OTTB and I’m waffling about the best practices for starting him back. I’ve started horses back into work after a long period off before due to injury and I have re-started OTTBs fresh off the track before, but this is my first one off the track that has been hanging out and doing nothing for a long time but wasn’t injured.
He’s an 8yr old that last ran 9/15/19 and I was told he retired sound. The previous owner has a bit of a horse collection and had a whole bunch he just kept when they retired so he has been hanging out in retirement. He had great care and looks fantastic, you wouldn’t guess he had been out of work looking at him. Vetting was very good and his legs look great, especially for a horse that raced until he was 7. He has been turned out during the day and stalled at night since retirement and has not been out 24/7.
Normally, for one that had been out for so long I would go with a vet prescribed rehab or plan on just walking for a couple of weeks and mostly walking for the first month with just a bit of trotting added in. I’ve had a couple off of the track that would have been totally fine with just walking around right from the first ride but I’ve had others that really needed to trot to relax in the beginning and I expect he will be in the second category.
For those who have restarted one that had a long let-down period and no injury, how did you balance wanting to keep them on a slow and steady legging up schedule with letting them trot to relax if they want to? Right now I’m planning on playing it by ear and just keeping it as short and sweet as possible to begin with but if anyone has specific experiences to share from a similar situation, I’m curious to hear what you did!