How Is A Racehorse Trained?

How Is A Racehorse Trained?

Racehorses are athletes and they can only compete after specialist training. What can a young horse expect, under the tutelage of a top trainer, such as John Gosden or Aidan O’Brien?

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Very little happens in the first year, during which time the foal may often be sold on. The horse is unlikely to reach the trainer’s yard until it is a yearling.

At 18-months, the horse will be ‘broken-in’. The trainer will first allow it to walk on a long rein. As the horse begins to respond to the trainers urgings and has begun to relax, it will be introduced to its first rider.

If this goes well, the horse will start to go out cantering with more experienced inmates. By the Christmas before their 2-year-old season, they will have learned to trot and ride away from other horses.

In January, they will be taught how to gallop. Now they can start to build muscle-strength and also concentrate on cardio-vascular fitness. They are then given ‘sharp work’ – sprints of 2-3 furlongs, from a standing start. They learn to listen to their jockey and follow the commands. They will now be introduced to starting stalls, sometimes under protest!

Racehorses enjoy much better accommodation than other working horses. They are well fed, kept warm and given plenty of attention. Trainers want their charges to be happy. They learn a strict routine, that begins at dawn and ends shortly after at dark.

The first feed will be around 5.00am. There will be around 1.5 hours of work in the mornings, while their stable gets mucked out. They will eat again, just after noon, before being allowed to rest until 3.30pm. They will then be groomed and checked over for any physical ailments. They can then spend time in an open field, with other horses. The horse will be checked again, around 8.30pm, before it is locked-up and can get a good night’s sleep.

When the horse begins racing, it will continue with this routine, although there will be more emphasis on fast gallop work.
As for eating, they will be given 3-4 portions of a top quality scientifically formulated racing feed each day. This is balanced to provide protein, starch, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

On race days, the trainer will try to keep the horse’s routine as close as possible to what happens at the yard. However, a racecourse is an entirely different environment. Only the horses that can stay calm and focused, will be successful. This is as important as any amount of work that takes place on the gallops.

In short, training is pretty much as you would expect. A combination of healthy food, short periods of hard exercise, lots of check-ups to make-sure the horse is in good shape and plenty of rest. A horse needs all of these things, if it is going to win races!

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how is a race horse trained


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