Contrary to what many may believe, an OTTB or Off the Track Thoroughbred is a very versatile horse which can be used for much more than winning races.
While you can't expect to bring one home and be loping casually around your backyard on the first day, given a little time, patience, and the correct re-training, a Thoroughbred from the track can make a suitable riding partner for most any riding discipline.
Yes, some do come with injuries as is possible for any athlete and may only be usable as a beautiful addition to a pasture. But even with a bowed tendon (a tear of the tendon fibers), with plenty of time to recover and a veterinarians approval, these once injured horses can make exceptional trail horses or even be suitable for most flat work. And for those Thoroughbreds who are lucky enough to come away from racing as sound (without any lameness or injuries), they can go on to have very successful second careers in the show ring. Many riders, including Boyd Martin (horse- Neville Bardos) and Becky Holder (horse- Courageous Comet) have even chosen an OTTB to be their partner in the Olympics! While a lot of OTTB's excell in English disciplines such as show jumping and dressage, it's not a rarity at all to see them competing in speed events like barrel racing and pole bending as well.
Choosing a Thoroughbred from the track can be rewarding in other aspects as well. In many instances when obtaining an ex-racehorse, you may ultimately be saving its life. Although these horses can be treated like royalty at the racetrack, once their days of racing glory have passed, a lot of times these beautiful animals can end up on the auctioning block where so called "killer buyers" are ready to purchase them for meat. Even the previously mentioned Neville Bardos, horse of Olympic rider Boyd Martin nearly saw his fates end at one of theses sales. Of course this is not to say that all ex-racehorses are dealt this hand. Some have fantastic owners who don't mind losing some money in order to see that they go on to a good, loving home. But unfortunately, many are met with this horrible destination. Thankfully though, through rescue organizations such as CANTER (Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses) and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, mindful racehorse owners are given adoption as another option in where their horses go after they are done racing.
An OTTB will not be everyone's first choice. They require a lot of extra time, patience, and care that most horses do not need to make them usable outside of the realm of racing. Additionally, it is highly advised to thoroughly educate yourself and even hire a trainer to help with the process of re-training an ex-racehorse. A long process and perhaps a little of an investment? Yes. But also an extremely rewarding and truly worthwhile transformation of horse, and even sometimes the rider.