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Where do TBs really stand now

Where do TBs truly stand? I know there are two extreme opinions-but curious about where TBs stand in the HJ world. The A/AA shows. Are they “frowned upon” on the a circuit? Are they making a comeback?

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They aren’t frowned upon, and a lot of top judges will tell you that they will pin the horse in front of them, even preferring a good TB in some cases. But as someone who’s done a lot of TBs and simultaneously does a lot of high-end imports and sales and showing, there just aren’t enough TBs ending up in the types of programs that can bring them up to reliably show on the A/AA level.

I do think what gets me is the shoppers who have a sub-$50k budget for their sound, fancy, unicorn packer hunter and won’t look at a TB.


I guess this is specifically what I mean by frowned upon. The ISO ads that have a headliner of “absolutely no TBs”

Especially with that 50k budget, are TBs still majorly excluded from our world? I saw someone recently working with a TB after not working with TBs for a while, and he said man I miss the brains of a TB. So that made me ask myself this question. I think most people assume a TB you get for dirty cheap-but how about those expensive TBs-are they still scoffed at? I don’t completely understand it.

If the A/AA circuit doesn’t “welcome” or rather-celebrate TBs, where are people showing/using them? Are they still the main breed in eventing?


If they can do the job and look the part, the papers will conveniently be lost. Easier these days with a microchip and not a tattoo (I have 2 microchipped OTTB whose chip numbers were not registered in Datamars, but the number was likely provided to the Jockey Club).

In eventing, TBs are still very much in play below the FEI level. But the winners at the upper echelons are WBs, because of the conversion to the short format. Back when you still had road and tracks and steeplechase sections on XC, the TB was king. Even many of the winners at the short format will have a sizable amount of TB blood, but they won’t be all TB.


I like a good TB it just have not seen all that many bred to my liking as the years go by. Not the right bone and conformation anymore and not many breeding them for non-racing sports. I think at some point too the closed JC book started to work against them. Anyway, I think this then leads to a lot of anti-TB bias.

These are very broad generalizations but a trend that’s been moving along for the past 30 years. But also think about all the nonsense you might get in response to an ISO ad online. You might say 17h WB gelding, needs to be a slow, lumbering brontosaurus that your grandma’s dog can ride with an auto change, and you’ll get people offering you a 15h chestnut mare TB that’s been let down but not restarted, but maybe they put a dog on it once for a photo. So people tend to be more restrictive in their ads (but of course they want the dream horse for $20k). That doesn’t mean that a judge won’t pin a very nice TB in a class if it gets down the lines, keeps a rhythm and jumps well.


I have a TB. I grew up on the A/AA circuit when TBs were more common, they’re what I like riding and they’re in my price range. I mainly event now, where they are much more common, but I do the hunters a few times per year. I usually feel like I’m placed fairly based on my rounds and the competition. I pinned higher than I think I should have a few weeks ago, so I’m assuming that judge liked thoroughbreds. I still ride with my trainer from when I was a junior and I have the only TB in the barn.


I agree with most of the ideas, but not this one

The JC book has been aimed at racing, and racing has been aimed at a singular idea - produce horses who can run fast, and early. No who can run for years. The whole race scene has been aimed at producing 2yos, maybe 3yos, who can run. And those who are successful in the 2-3-4yo years, get retired to the breeding shed, without any idea if they can be sound racing until they’re even just 6 or 7.

There are PLENTY of TBs out there. But if they don’t meet the above criteria - fast, precocious 2-3yos, they don’t get the breeding nod.

That’s what’s limited the gene pool over the decades, not that the JC has been a closed book for however long it’s been. That, plus their adamant refusal to allow AI, which would open up a LOT of stallions in other continents

IMHO, the anti-TB mentality came with the upswing in the $$$ WB imports who were somehow “better than” the TBs. Yes, judges made that a thing, pinning the lofty suspension-filled trots and canters over the daisy-cutting TB movement that used to dominate, and suddenly, TBs in the Hunter world were frowned upon.

I do agree with what I think is your general sentiment that at some point, when OTTBs became much nore accessible and sought after by the general layman, that anyone and everyone who could get their hands on a $800 OTTB started pushing them as the answer to everyone’s wishes, so ridiculously so that the thought of an OTTB was a turnoff.

I also think that part of the problem has been compounded by the WBFSH who, admittedly now, left out TB pedigrees on purpose because TBs were not part of the Warmblood aspect of breeding sporthorses. Lots of TBs and 1/2 TBs have been competing at high levels of Dressage/Eventing/Jumpers for decades, but with “unknown” pedigrees

So, TBs were even less well-thought of because “obviously”, they weren’t competing at high levels. Thankfully, that’s changing, so I think we’ll see the TB come back.

there was a thread in Breeding, I think, a few years ago about something similar, and I and others were talking about how it’s CRITICAL that TB MOs and SOs continue to keep breeding full TBs, for the sporthorse world, and not give into the idea (at the time) that nobody wanted full TBs anymore. The WB wouldn’t BE the “breed” it is without full TBs. I think people forget how amazing they can be all on their own, especially when bred for sport (which is now a very different endeavor than seeking out well-bred race-bred horses for a 2nd career in sport), and how critical they are for the WB world
I think, and HOPE the pendulum will start swinging the other way soon.


This SO true.


I definitely have seen negative stereotyping against TBs.
I briefly had a sport-bred (well, more like backyard bred, but no one needed to know that) TB who I advertised as such when looking for full training for him. I was met with a lot of, “oh, I don’t really do Thoroughbreds…” and never called back/responded to again. In fact, I got ghosted by a trainer who said that, after signing a boarding agreement, and I’m pretty sure it was because the horse was a TB! This was last year, so certainly recent.


I wish there were MORE thoroughbred only shows. I think that would help keep the breed alive more in our sport. Like a circuit for the TBs. I know there’s that thoroughbred incentive program through I believe JC? But it doesn’t seem like that’s a popular thing or hosted by many


I guess it depends on what area you’re in. Many of the show series in the Atlanta area have divisions or classes specifically for TBs and offer TIP points for most of their hunter and jumper classes.


TIP is super popular with the lower level eventers and around here in the local HJs. I think some people are “scared” to do the TB hunters and “reveal” that their nice AA horse is a TB - in case they have to sell it later and supposedly narrow their market.

IMO I love a good TB, but so few are built and go the way a modern Hunter needs to. You see this in Eventing as well - lots of blood but the crazy uphill, big moving Dressage bred horse wins, so that’s what people think they need (even at BN!). On the other hand, jumpers are starting to swing away from the dinosaurs - jump offs are getting faster and trickier, so savvy riders want a smaller, cattier animal. A really nice TB can fill that gap.

At the end of the day, a fast 2YO =/= a sound amateur hunter. Not in brain, or build, or type. So that’s not what most TB breeders are aiming to produce. There are some lines that tend to be sportier, and individual TBs will make fine hunters, but it’s not the Type. Not right now.

ETA And judges reward what is in front of them, but unfortunately so few TBs are produced in a way that checks all the boxes - many times I’ll see a post like “judges just don’t like my TB!” and the horse is a bit shabby or undermuscled, quick and gunning to make the step, and often ridden upside down in a Pelham. A slow moving, good jumping TB that makes the step and gets the swap is indistinguishable from any other similar horse there.


You can win on a TB. Winning TBs are not frowned upon by anyone. The number of TBs developed in a way that they will win is low. They tend to go to programs that don’t know how to develop a winning anything. And then the stereotype perpetuates, since a losing TB is always considered to be losing because of its breed, even though there are many horses losing every day due to their rider or trainer.


This takes me back to a discussion that I’ve had with both my former barn owner and my current trainer. The issue is not that (well-bred, well-built) TBs don’t make good hunters. The issue is that most people don’t know how to train a TB to make a good hunter (and thus, is it really the horse’s fault, or should more riders/trainers be more willing to be honest with themselves that they can’t handle a Thoroughbred for whatever reason?).

I am, however, eternally biased because I got a horse who is way too nice for what I paid for him and that’s because he’s got the “wrong” breed on his papers (but I am an eventer and we definitely don’t care at the levels that I ride at). Best bargain I’ll ever get in my life.


I have one showing in the Adult Ams and derbies. He does pretty well for himself. Capable of scoring mid 80s on his best day with a decent judge (and no rider error). He is not like a lot of TBs I’ve seen off the track. 40 races and only one win. 17+ hands and a big Roman nose. When he’s at peak weight he could pass for a WB in a line up.

He had a bit of an inconsistent past before I got him, but we spent a solid two years on the basics and got him where he needed to be a solid amateur hunter. Someone said earlier that the right type of program to develop nice TB show horses is needed, and I 1000% agree with that having now witnessed a couple TB retrainings.

With the WB sport horse bred horses—especially those already green broke at the least—the talent of the horse can hide the sins and/or ignorance of the trainer. With the greener horses or horses being retrained for a new career, I have found it to be much more obvious who knows how to put in the time and communicate effectively vs. who doesn’t.

And IMO if a judge is gonna judge weird, they’re gonna judge weird across the board, not just against TBs. Hunters can just be brutually subjective some days :woman_shrugging:


There USED to be at least TB classes, but for the reasons above, participation declined to the point they were just removed.

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Lets be honest: the number of hunter programs who can develop a horse from scratch is extremely low. Most around here buy a horse that has done the 1.2m jumpers or even the working hunters in Europe and then “develop” it into a .65 or .9m hunter. Similarly most TBs come from eventer-land and are already relatively experienced when they get them to “train”.

TBs off the track are frowned u[on because you have to actually restart them and a lot of hunter barns can’t/ won’t do that. Everyone is too busy travelling to shows or doesn’t have a good riding pro or just literally have never started a green horse ever.


I’m shocked this is a thing. I just assumed those tb classes didn’t fill bc there simply weren’t many-not bc people didn’t want to show it…

The TIP thing looked great, I went to one in KY but the local shows I feel are at more run down barns.

I’d argue that this is actually a hard thing to do - that’s the biggest market right now for both kids and working adults, and it’s not an easy job that just any horse can do. Being able to pick a horse in europe that has the brain to do the 2’6” Olympics with an average rider is a very good skill. And the ROI is better vs the time and energy to develop an OTTB.

There’s plenty of OTTBs out there unsuitable for the job too. Picking a racefit 3YO that has the build and brain and movement is also a valuable skill. And no easier to learn than how to pick good imports - but the ROI is lower. This isn’t the Hunter Program’s fault, either. It’s just why the OTTB can be a hidden gem market for a savvy rider on a budget - but you’re going to have to be well educated, knowledgeable, skilled, and willing to wade through a lot of unsuitable animals first :woman_shrugging:t3:


Most of the H/J schooling shows around here have TIP points and awards. But these are strictly schooling shows.

Something I think would be well received are more TB breed shows. Something beyond The Makeover. I appreciate everything RRP has done to generate buzz, but what do you do with your OTTB once the makeover experience has passed? Not to mention, I’m never a fan of the strict timeline factor, though I understand the reasoning.