Anyone that owns an OTTB – off the track thoroughbred – knows about PTSD in horses and the flashbacks from a racetrack past.

The announcer and the show’s PA system is a heart pounding reaction that says “in a few minutes, you’re running with a pack of equine locomotives.” Not just the main ring announcer, but it’s from the schooling ring, the barn calls that send OTTB’s quaking in their horse shoes. They hear that twenty-minute barn call and they are sure they’re saddling up in the paddock for Race 3.

Racehorses need to be desensitized to the sounds of the horse shows. My OTTB needed an iPod or CD with a Playlist of horse show sounds. So we created one that he now listens to at home.

Here’s what’s on his playlist:

  • Posting order, announcing an entrant, plane in background
  • Light static, microphone clicking on and off, music in background
  • Under saddle class call (“trot please,” etc.), horse snorting
  • Loud announcing calling numbers
  • Static off and on, wind blowing against a microphone
  • Crowd noise
  • Horse cantering in adjacent arena
  • Spectator chatting, more wind
  • Talking, “good boy”
  • Announcers in two different rings talking over each other
  • Announcer calling placings for under saddle class
  • Jump rail knocking down
  • Spectator chatter, coughing
  • Loud announcer calling posted order
  • Jumper announcer – “clear round and a time of…”
  • Baby crying
  • Spectators cheers – “Woo hoo” – as results are announced
  • Whinny from horse
  • Announcer in equitation class – posting, sitting, extended trot
  • Water and drag noises in arena
  • Spectators laughing
  • Audio of Secratariat’s Belmont, announcer and crowd noise
  • USHJA hunter classic announcing hunter derby Jersey Boy [subliminal imagery]
  • Bugle call before horse race
  • Horse race commentator of a small local track
  • Explosion of clapping at horse show, whistles and cheers
  • A peaceful song (to reward him for getting through it)

I expect this won’t prevent all of my thoroughbred’s nervousness but these sounds are surely more familiar to him at his next horse shows.