For those looking for an inexpensive horse, an Off-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) can be a diamond in the rough for someone with the patience and understanding to train one. Thoroughbreds are tremendously versatile and can excel at many disciplines. Most people think about "repurposing” them into eventers, hunters or jumpers, but they can also make great dressage mounts, polo ponies, trail horses and ranch horses. The key is finding the horse with the right aptitude, attitude and body type for the desired new discipline.
The main reason people are afraid to try an OTTB is the fear of unsoundness. Many musculoskeletal issues that would make a horse unsuitable for racing are acceptable for horses in other disciplines. Additionally some wind or upper airway conditions that would make a horse a less than desirable race horse can be overlooked in the show ring or as a pleasure horse. It is always good advice to have a veterinary exam performed on a prospective purchase. Discuss with the veterinarian your plans for the horse including work load, time frame and resale. Your vet can perform tests for suitability to your discipline.
In addition to soundness issues, it is important that people who are unfamiliar with the racing industry educate themselves about the training and management habits of race horses. It is not fair to the horse or themselves to embark on the stewardship of a new horse without learning how they have been trained and how to properly care for them.
If you think this may be the right direction for you, reach out to a reputable source, learn all you can from them about these wonderful athletes, and follow through with a trainer or a mentor than can help direct and your horse to a successful partnership.