Read the Success Stories for these former Bits & Bytes Farm horses.


The newest Success Stories have been moved to their own site:


* Horses with asterisk in front of their name were purchased as Prospect Horses directly from the track.

All photos on this Web site are copyright protected and may not be used without written permission of the photographer.


"I am so happy that my worst fears were groundless, and that I took the "leap of faith" to believe in a horse from your site!I am happy to recommend it to other horse people I know! "

- Sandra Larson owner of former horse "At Risk" - Matt's Memo.


OTTB success stories

Matt's Memo is in love with his new pasture buddy, Stormy.


Matt's Memo is now for sale because Sandra is off to Italy to live for a year!

Contact Sandra Larson at 864-616-7864

Print out a flyer with her three horses for sale.







Former Prospect Horse for Sale, Matt's Memo is an OTTB living in South Carolina.

Matt' Memo gives his mom and savior, Sandy Larson, her first ride.








OTTB in training. Matt's Memo

See Matt's Memo's Prospect Horse for Sale photos.








Elizabeth's Training Notes: Most OTTBs come off-the-track with very soft mouths. The jockey nevers jerks on the reins but rather lets the horse lean and balance off his hands. When they cross the finish line, the jockey sits up (like our half halts) and lets go. The horse slows and stops galloping. Never give an OTTB two hands to lean into - rather, alternate the pressure by opening and closing your hands and doing a half halt. Pull and release and pull harder and RELEASE if the horse does not pay attention. We have found most "homebreds" and unraced horses are more apt to spook as they have not been exposed to all the "scary" things that occur at the race track. Let go of your myths about Thoroughbreds and give us a call!

Bits & Bytes Farm Success Stories

Our horses > success stories > Matt's Memo

Matt's Memo aka "Max" - FOR SALE!

Matt's Memo - For Sale in June 2008

June 12, 2008

Hi Elizabeth,

Well, it's official, my family is going to Italy for a year, so this is fast-forwarding plans for Max (Matt's Memo). He was supposed to be a "resell" horse in the first place, but I've been enjoying him too much and work pressures slowed my progress in training him. He is now officially for sale, but given our short time frame, we'd consider a lease as well. Potential buyers and lessors will be checked out thoroughly!! Please update Max's Success Stories page and add him to the list of horses for sale. I've attached some photos, and hope to have some more under-saddle photos to send along soon. The one under saddle photo included is when he came along to school at a local dressage show last month. He handled everything very well, he was a little frisky, but that was probably more due to not being ridden in 2 weeks prior!

Matt's Memo in June 2008

I've also attached our flyer advertising all three of our horses (the other two are for lease only), I realize you don't post other horses on the Bits and Bytes site, but if you know of anyone who might be interested in a lease arrangement, please pass the word along. I'd prefer to have them stay close to home here (I have friends who can keep tabs on them while I'm gone), but I certainly trust you and your judgement if you know of anyone in your area.

Glad to see how quickly horses are flying off the site!! I'll continue to watch the site from afar, and will likely be a customer again when we get back. I'll keep you posted regarding Max. Anyone interested in seeing him or learning more about him can call me at 864-616-7864.

Take care,

Sandra F. Larson, Ph.D.

Matt's Memo in May 2008

February 6, 2007

Matt's Memo is almost kid safe now.
Matt's Memo was an "At Risk" colt when Sandra Larson saved him! Now her son, Sean, is riding him!

Hi Elizabeth,

Well, I think Matt's Memo has finally completed the transition to "country" horse (as opposed to city).

During the ice storm last week, I brought the horses in to the barn, and for the first time he didn't drop down right away and take advantage of the clean, fluffy bedding for a series of rolls! He is so funny about rolling; 9 times out of 10, if I take him on the lawn after riding, he'll drop down and roll (while on the leadrope). A couple of weeks ago, when I let him loose after a ride, he started to canter off to join his friends, then he realized he was going through the remnants of a round bale. I have never seen a horse drop to his knees from a canter so fast as he took advantage of the soft, fluffy hay to roll in! He still only rolls one side at a time, probably from years of rolling carefully in a stall to avoid becoming cast.

My work schedule is somewhat settling down, so now Max's work schedule is going to increase! My question for you is, would it be possible to bring him down for a "visit" for a day or two? I'd like some feedback on how his training is going, and give you a chance to meet him "in person" so you can learn more about him for when I have to get around to selling him. Besides which, I'd love to meet you in person!! Let me know if this is a possibility, and if it is, we can deal with dates and details later.

It's great to see the horses getting sold off the site so well! I'm a total convert to OTTB's (at least the ones you're connected with) and talk up your site at any opportunity!

Take care,

Elizabeth's Note: We LOVE for the buyers of our horses to come for a visit. We often run clinics and buyers of our horses are the first to be notifiied about them. It gives us great pleasure to host buyers of our horses. We enjoy their company and welcome the chance to see how their horse's training has progressed. It also gives me a chance to get some current photos of these beautiful OTTBS!

October 31, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

OK, I can't help but brag about my brave boy! Yesterday I rode him after about 10 days off, and at the end of an ENERGETIC 20 minute ride, I put a mental challenge to him.

A few days ago, we put up a temporary 10'x20' carport (white tarp roof on a pole frame) to store round bales under. The carport is right by the pasture, also right next to the area where he eats his grain, and gets tied for grooming, so he'd been around it, but hadn't been specifically brought up to it to check it out. I rode him up to one end, and asked him to go in. He started to walk in, then his head came up and he said "wait a minute, I'm not so sure about this" and he moved away from it. I turned him back toward it, halted him, then asked for a step forward. Any time he stepped toward it at all (even if it was in an attempt to position for a turn away) I patted him and made a big deal over him. After 7-8 progressive steps (with a few backing steps mixed in that I ignored), he got his head under it, then the next time I asked him to move forward, he just went "oh well, I guess I'll get it over with" and walked (on tiptoe) right through it! I made a huge fuss over him and hopped off after we got out the other side. I was so proud that he was brave enough to do it, and that he trusted me enough to try.

Well, enough proud mama talk, back to my "real world" work.

Take care!

August 31, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

My son had been asking for a turn to ride Matt's Memo, so he hopped on for a pony ride after I was done riding this past weekend - mind you, I'm not ready to call Max child-safe yet! I'll try to get my husband to take photos with me sometime this weekend.

Max had a bit of a breakthrough last weekend, he's starting to figure out how to soften and bend, so we can finally work toward the long and low frame I've been wanting to do to get his topline stronger! Max is also now out with all four of the horses on the property, and has adjusted easily. It helps that we did this in a pasture that has been ungrazed all summer!

Take care,

Elizabeth's Note: We really want to thank Sandy Larson for going above and beyond the call of duty in regards to Matt's Memo. We nearly lost this horse to auction by a few hours when the trucker did not show up. Matt's Memo was a COLT and he has since had his load lightened - but not that long ago - just two months! Most of these horses just need patience and time to heal from the soreness of racing. Matt's Memo is a good example of how quickly they come around when given love, care and good nutrition. Thank you Sandy for buying this boy sight unseen when he was "At Risk" and for gelding and training him!

August 16, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

I just wanted to let you know that Max (Matt's Memo) is doing very well! Between the surgery recovery and the travails with his front shoes, his training program has been pretty erratic, but he's finally able to work more regularly (at least when I have time...). We also have our "equipment" worked out, I have a saddle that fits him well, and I did go ahead and get a set of racing rings. I like them better than the regular running martingale I tried on him, the v-shape seems to make it easier to use an opening rein (which he still needs on occasion).

He has really improved under saddle, I can finally trot a straight line on a loose rein, and he's starting to turn from my seat and leg aids. His trot is opening up too, and I could canter for HOURS it feels so nice! He still needs to learn to stretch his head and neck down (other than at the walk) to fully use his back, but that will be easier to work towards as he gets more between my aids.

He's had his first couple of forays off the property in the company of the steadiest trail horse on the farm. Max ended up leading most of the time due to his wonderful walk, and he was very good. It's funny actually, he's only 15.1 and his trail buddy is a 16.2 TB/App cross and Max EASILY out-walks him. We have to go down the road to get to trails, and he was not fazed at all by cars. He even got a look at a bicyclist on his first ride, and all he did was pick up his head and watch it intently. He doesn't quiet understand the concept behind trail riding, after about 20 minutes he started slowing down and turning his head back toward the barn as if to say "just how far are we getting away from home anyways??". Despite that, he didn't really get much quicker when we did turn toward home.

I'll try and get some pictures of us this weekend to send to you. His black coat has bleached a lot (despite spending most of the day in the run-in shed), so he might be hard to recognize! His body shape has changed too, although I'd still like a little more weight on him. I think the heat has been hard on him, hopefully between the high-fat supplement I want to get for him and a break in the weather, he should gain a bit more.

Thanks for doing what you do for these horses, Max has really changed my opinion of OTTB's!

Take care,

Be sure to read Elizabeth's Training Notes below on this page.

July 24, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for helping me out with my questions on the phone this AM. My farrier came out and put shoes on with flat pads, and Max is already more comfortable. I think that with his flat feet and taking off a fair bit of splayed out toe, he just had too much sole pressure (as well as the low heels). His feet are interesting; the vet commented when he came out to give him his shots that he must have had a change in nutrition sometime earlier this spring. He has a distinct horizontal ring around his hoof that is now about 2/3 of the way down his wall. In his front feet above the line, his hoof is growing pretty straight down, and below the line it spreads out drastically. I think that after a couple of more shoeings we'll be into the straight part and his feet will be in really good shape. The walls are very strong, he hasn't had any breakage when he's pulled the shoe.

Max is pretty comical sometimes, when I started leading him out of the pasture up to the house (where we do all the grooming, tacking up, shoeing, etc.), he stopped dead after going through one gate as if to say "What do you think you're going to do with me today, I'm LAME!".

Thanks again for your advice! I may call on Thursday AM to talk to your farrier if Max hasn't improved by then, but judging by how he walked back to the field after the shoeing today, he should be in good shape.


Note from Elizabeth: We are always available to answer questions and give training and feeding tips to the buyers of our horses. It usually takes a shoeing or two to clean up the feet of off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Most Thoroughbreds do not have bad feet but have had bad farrier work done to them. More Notes below.
Matt's Memo's first ride.


July 11, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

I just sent a few photos through your web page of Max's first turnout with
another horse! He was so happy to get to actually be in contact with my
old horse Stormy, who has been keeping him company from across the barn
aisle since his arrival. I should have titled a couple of the photos
"Stormy's shadow", because Max just was glued to him for the first hour or

OTTB success stories.

As you can see from the photos, Max has realized that mud is good for
rolling in too, not just lawns. It was fun watching the two of them, Max
was like a little kid tossing his head wanting to play, and they did for a
little while, then Stormy's attitude seemed to be "when is this kid going
to leave me alone".

OTTB success stories.

I think Max is well on his way to being a "regular" horse now. He has now been gelded, wormed, teeth floated, shots, and has graduated to turnout in one of our 2 acre fields. He did great while I was away, and now that I'm back we're looking to get some weight on him. Pasture will help with that! He also feels so much better under saddle now. I rode him on the weekend for the first time since the post-gelding recovery and he had much more spring in his step!! We did walk-trot-canter in both directions in the ring, and he picked up both leads correctly. The canter felt SOO smooth! His trot has a long way to go though, it's very upheaded and short. Now that his teeth are done, I can start using bending to get a long and low frame, as well as hill work to get a topline developing!

I'm still amazed at his low-key attitude. When I moved him to the new field, a couple of the neighbor's Saddlebreds got excited and running; Max's response was to startle forward about 6 feet, stop, then go back to grazing. He's definitely more inquisitive now that he's settled in and physically recovered from everything, but he's still not what I expected from an OTTB.

Elizabeth's Note: I asked Sandra what she expected from an OTTB. Here is her answer:

You asked about my expectations of an OTTB; in general, I would expect a hard-mouthed puller who would always want to GO.

My husband Michael had an OTTB back in high school that had been racing up until age 10 or so (flat then steeplechase). The horse went well enough at home that they entered a novice level horse trial, and at that event Rondin just took off with him. When the starter said "go" at the cross-country phase, Rondin was off to the races. Michael was an excellent rider, but he actually ended up pulling the bit through the horse's mouth before he was finally able to get him to turn and stop somewhere in the woods. After some serious training, he got so the horse would go at any speed (including loose-rein walk) in the middle of a cross-country course.

My direct experience with racehorses was in college when I worked at a farm that had a few home-breds, plus a couple of horses bought on the track to continue racing. The homebreds were fun to ride, they were trained by other eventing riders like me, so were pretty easy to put in whatever gear you wanted. The mares from the track were not comfortable in a regular farm environment, they were fussy to handle in their stalls, spooked easily (ok, so sheep at a distance can be scary), and to work them I was told to stand in the stirrups, lock my knees, and lean back against them to keep them at a slow gallop. I remember one two mile slow gallop that I was continually being pulled back down onto the horse's neck! Another of the homebeds was so crazy that when he was galloped on the beach one day, he took my (very strong) instructor off for a swim, despite the gag bit he had in his mouth.

So, I've had a little direct and indirect experience with racing/OTTB's that colored my perception of what Max could be like. Add to that the craziness of buying a horse sight unseen (albeit with excellent references!) and I did have some trepidation! (I think my former Pony Club instructors and examiners would think I should get my head examined for the sight-unseen part!) Besides, how may horse advertisements have you seen that spout "never raced" as a positive feature of a TB?

I am so happy that my worst fears were groundless, and that I took the "leap of faith" to believe in a horse from your site! I am happy to recommend it to other horse people I know!

Take care, and keep up the good work! I'll tell Stormy you think he's very pretty!


Elizabeth's Training Notes: Most OTTBs come off-the-track with very soft mouths. The jockey never jerks on the reins but rather lets the horse lean and balance off his hands. When they cross the finish line, the jockey sits up (like our half halts) and lets go. The horse slows and stops galloping. Never give an OTTB two hands to lean into - rather, alternate the pressure by opening and closing your hands and doing a half halt. Pull and release and pull harder and RELEASE if the horse does not pay attention. We have found most "homebreds" and unraced horses are more apt to spook as they have not been exposed to all the "scary" things that occur at the race track. Let go of your myths about Thoroughbreds and give us a call!

June 19, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

Max is recuperating well from his surgery. I think he recognized me at the clinic, I got a big whinny (and I don't think it was purely hunger), and he loaded perfectly and traveled like a star. When we brought him to the clinic, he did some of the rocking forward and backward that he had done on the shippers rig last weekend, but no moving on the trip home. I think he was relieved to have the same person and same trailer arrive. He did the same routine as when he arrived when we got home, after a few nibbles of the front lawn he dropped down and rolled (twice), then happily headed back to his barn and paddock.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, I think I agree with that... Max needs to be trotted 4 times a day for 15 minutes each time (for 7 days), so he learned to longe very quickly! He does great in both directions, and I can move the circle up and down the arena as he's trotting, so he ends up doing some ovals instead of being stuck on a circle the whole time. Not bad, considering we have a standard sized dressage arena that doesn't have tall fence along the edge of the arena. I also hopped on him twice yesterday, and did the second ride by ourselves out in one of our large pastures. I even mounted him by myself with a mounting block for that ride, and he stood well. His temperament is incredible, I can't believe I'm doing this on a recently-gelded, 1 week off the track 4 year old TB!! He was a little wiggly in his steering and by the end of the session was strongly reminding me that the barn and other horses were THAT WAY, but it was easily quelled by a growl from me and a wave of the crop to remind him he still has to pay attention. He is getting pretty tired of this work routine though, I had to drag him out of his paddock for his last session last night... I think he'll enjoy the break at the end of this forced march.

I'll resend the pictures I sent to you last week, plus another one. I'll try going through your page this time. One of them is him in his paddock, and the other is our first ride, which happened on his first full day on our farm. With him in racing trim. He's definitely too good a horse to leave out in a pasture, and will thrive with love and attention!

Take care, and I'll keep you posted! Sandy

OTTB - Matt's Memo's first ride.Former horse "At Risk" Matt's Memo on his first ride away from the track.

June 14, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,

Here is a promised picture! I'll give a quick overall summary of the saga of Matt's Memo (we call him Max, that's how my 4 year old daughter pronounces it anyways!). He arrived and unloaded easily Saturday night in our driveway. After munching a few bites of the front lawn, he decided it was a nice soft place to roll, so he carefully dropped down (twice) and rolled!

We hosed off the dried sweat, and my kids couldn't wait to pat him and give him carrots. He quietly walked down to the barn, and settled in immediately, despite my agitated older TB that I had put in to keep him company (he wanted to be back out with his buddies!).

Late Sunday morning (after finishing fence repair on his paddock!), my husband led him around the paddock, then as he dropped his head to graze, Michael just let him go and walked away from him. He soon realized he was free, but was totally mellow. I still have yet to see him do more than canter one section of fence line once. I went ahead and hopped on him on Sunday, just to walk for a few minutes in the arena while one of the boarders was cooling out her horse, and Max was very good. Pretty "rubbernecky", but all the gears seemed to work ok. He was turned out for a few hours on Monday, then Tuesday AM I put him out, expecting to bring him in at noon, but we had a cool day and he was comfortable, so I left him out all day. One of our boarders was there riding during the day and said that our neighbors put out a mare and foal in the pasture next to him, and while the foal was running around making a ruckus, all Max did was call back to him occasionally. I'm really amazed at his disposition.

To sum up our experience so far, the good aspects: He is so mellow and well-behaved. He's already doing less of the colty nipping, and he has adjusted amazingly well from a busy track life to a VERY slow paced life. My husband and I work full time, as do our boarders, so our property is very quiet. He stood like a rock for the farrier today (much better behaved than my old guy!). The not-so-good aspect: as I told you already, he's a cryptorchid (one testicle is still in his abdominal cavity). This will necessitate surgery at an equine clinic, significantly more expensive than regular gelding procedures. It will also mean a week where we're supposed to jog him 5 times a day for 15 minutes, to prevent swelling! I hope this doesn't make him associate us and exercise with pain. We're going ahead with everything (in for a penny, in for a pound), but this is the one "wart" on our experiences thus far. I went into this knowing that there were risks in a sight-unseen purchase, so no sour grapes. He is definitely too good a horse to let go!

Thanks for trying to check on the cryptorchid history, I figured it was a long shot, but thought it was worth a try anyways. He's at the equine clinic now, with surgery scheduled for tomorrow AM. I think he was a little perturbed to go back onto a trailer and another new place!

Take care,


Matt's Memo was "At Risk" of going to slaughter in June 2006

Matt's Memo was another horse "At Risk". We had put him up on our Web site as a Prospect Horse for Sale when his trainer sold him to another trainer in West Virginia. The horse was shipped out just as we had found him a new home. His exercise rider loved Matt's Memo very much and stayed in touch with his new trainer/owner. She knew Matt's Memo was not interested in racing and when the new trainer realized it, he wanted Matt's Memo gone - NOW! That's when we got the call and put out the word on our Web site. We had several people interested in helping but nothing was working out. We arranged for shipping to a woman in Florida - then she found out the stall she was hoping for, was not available so she could not take him. The shipper was called and the destination changed to Bits & Bytes Farm - we could not let a sound, sweet horse go to auction! Within a hour, Sandy Larson called in and said that she could give Matt's Memo a good home. Another call was made to the shipping company and the destination was changed to South Carolina! The shipping company could not get in touch with their driver and by the time he did he was past West Virginia and he would not be picking up the horse. It would have been nice if they let us know earlier!@#! Another mad scramble was made to find an overnight stall for the horse. His trainer was claiming a horse that evening and had to have the stall. He was less than accommodating but a stall was finally found and a new shipping company hired for pickup in the morning. Thanks to Tapp Transport for going out of their way to help save Matt's Memo and get him to South Carolina where he can start his new career as a soon to be gelding! Follow his new life on Matt's Memo's Success Stories.

Matt's Memo's Prospect Horse for Sale photos

Matt's Memo was a Propsect Horse for Sale. He is an OTTB now.

Matt's Memo was a Propsect Horse for Sale. He is an OTTB now.

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