My family has been involved in Thoroughbred racing for years. As a child I would hang out in the training barn, tack rooms and the jockey diners to listen to the chatter of riders bragging about their horses or to hear a trainer discuss the problems a filly is having loading in the gate. Now as an adult, it is still a daily adventure where I’m involved hands-on with bloodstock agents, memorizing pedigrees and racing results, breaking, galloping, sales and marketing. If there was ever a ‘Jeopardy Horse’ game show, I’m positive that I’d walk away with millions – at least that is what I thought until yesterday.
I was introduced to some potential buyers who were interested in looking at ex-race horses for show prospects. The women were very excited to be in the barn and were chattering between them so fast, that I could hardly follow what they were saying. They kept repeating something about, “Oh! I just love O-T-T-B’s, don’t you?”, “O-T-T-B’s are my
favorite breed”, “O-T-T-B’s, O-T-T-B’s, O-T-T-B’s . . . . ”
What the heck were they saying, and why do they keep spelling in front of me, I thought?
10 minutes into the visit it finally dawned on me that they were referring to the term ‘Off The Track Thoroughbred’ and were using the abbreviation as if it were a noun and not an adjective. For me it was like nails on a chalk-board and I interrupted their conversation to explain how to properly use the term ‘OTTB’. I explained that OTTB can sometimes be used as a reference to describe a Thoroughbred that once was a race horse on a race track, and that it’s an abbreviated adjective. The women stared back at me in silence and I thought I heard crickets chirping in the background somewhere. So of course, I continued to explain that a Thoroughbred is the name of a type of equine breed, just like an Arabian or Quarter Horse. They’re nouns and they’re capitalized. Again, more blank stares.
We continued with the walk-through and as I spoke about the horses, I repeatedly spoke of the “Thoroughbreds”. Who knows if they ever really caught on to their impromptu English lesson.