How to condition a Thoroughbred for the racetrack?
A couple weeks ago, I got a three year old Thoroughbred filly. She was nominated for the Breeder's Cup, but had a small injury to her leg right before she was supposed to go to training, and she didn't make it. That's why I ended up with her. She just turned 3 on April first, and she is totally sound (her injury is just a pretty bad flesh wound). I am hoping to race her this season, but I have never trained/conditioned a horse for the track before...I'm used to re-training Thoroughbreds when they come off the track, not the other way around. So, what should I do to get her ready for the track? We cannot afford to hire a trainer already- I want to get most of the conditioning done myself, and just hire a professional trainer for the final stages of training. The only facilites I have for training are my medium-sized outdoor arena, a few trails, some quiet roads, and a little field. I have been lunging her walk/trot and over some ground poles and jumps every day, but I have not ridden her yet. She is broke, and has been ridden on the road, trail, and arena.
I don't have that much time to spend with her. I could spend an hour a day probably, but that would be hard, between everything else and my other six horses. So I guess I just want to know the best way to prep her for racing at home, without having a ton of time to spend with her. It is also a lot more convenient for me to do groundwork with her than ride her, because I am not allowed to ride her without supervision. How much prep work can I get done through groundwork? Can I substitute riding with lunging some of the days I work with her, or does she really need a lot of hours under saddle? Do I need to change her feed schedule (right now she gets a bale of hay daily and a little bit of sweet feed with a vitamin/mineral supplement)? And how much can I do myself? At what point should I get ahold of a trainer?
Sorry for all the questions, but this is an amazing opportunity and I really don't want to screw up this horse. I have a lot to learn about the racing cicuit, but my dream is to race horses, so I have to start sometime. Please give me some help! I need some guidance here.
Wow, quite an undertaking. I'm completely ignorant when it comes to conditioning and training racehorses so I'm anxious to see others replies..
I don't want to sound like a stick in the mud, because I don't know the entire situation, but if you can't afford a trainer how will you afford entrance fees, a jockey, etc? I think if you are unsure of what you are doing you need to get in with a trainer. You could unknowingly do damage to the horse and put it's racing future in jeopardy. Your best bet is to actually get her on the track and work directly with a trainer; that is where you and your horse will learn the most!
I hope this didn't sound rude, sometimes it's hard to detect someone's tone through the computer!
ITA with Iquistos - unfortunately, this is not something you can just "figure out" because it is the horse that will pay the price (possibly severely so) if you get it wrong.
Just out of curiosity though, what is your horse's name? That is super cool about her BC nomination!
Hate to say it, but if you want to have that horse racing its best to give it to a trainer.
It takes ALOT of work just to get a horse to a race and money is a factor. If you dont have the money you wont be able to hire a trackrider / jockey, entry fees, the right feed and vet care.
I would advise to get a trainer ASAP - ive seen good horses ruined because owners think they can train them themselves and they have done it all wrong.
Sorry, but I think for what you have said, you are unsuitable of getting a racehorse fully into work and onto the racetrack.
Gosh, I'm really sorry to not get enthused about your dream, but getting any horse ready to race isn't something you just read about and then do. Especially one that has a "small injury" at a young age.
If she otherwise suits you, please just enjoy her for that.
I used to ride track for several trainers. You would think I could offer advice but the answer is simply 'it depends.'
-On the horse
-On the target distance
-On the surfaces
-On the stage of training (i.e. up from a spell to truly 'race fit')
-On the weight of the jock/track rider
-On the time of year
So many factors. I just rode the horses as was instructed by the (seasoned) trainers. Probably could give you a general guide but there's really no point as I'll never interact with the horse or have enough information to give even a half arsed answer and the only one that stands to lose in that deal is your horse. There's nothing to be gained by trying to do it yourself. In addition to the points others have brought up, do you have your own track? If so, is it high enough quality for training? Poor quality tracks lead to severe, chronic injuries.
I'm thinking if your horse had the potential that you say she had and was only kept out of training for a so called small injury, the injury couldn't have been that small or they would have kept her, or else she had some other issues going on besides the small injury or not as much potential to be successful on the track as you think she had.
She may be healthy and sound as of right now, but I'm guessing that she had more going on than you were aware of before you got her, which is why you now have her, if she were to be put back into training it could flare up any issues that she may have had in the past. I think it is a very bad idea for you to want to train her yourself, with absolutely no experience or idea of how to go about it, especially if she was kept out of training because of an injury in the past. Sure, some can come back from injuries and go on to race a few more times, but it doesn't usually last for too long before they are injured again.
If you are serious about your plans for her, the very first step would be to get a very thorough vet exam, if she passes that with flying colours and the vet can find absolutely no reason why she would not be able to handle race training then the second step would be to find a trainer for her. I realize you said that you have no money for a trainer at the moment, but honestly, if you don't have the money for the trainer, how are you ever going to afford everything else that goes along with horse racing.
Honestly, it all sounds like a very bad idea to me. Why not just enjoy training her for something that you know you can do, like trail riding or dressage or jumping or whatever you enjoy doing with your horses.
The conditioning for racehorses takes time, much more than you have, and much of it would consist, at the trainers, of breezing her on the track, both by herself and against other horses.
They have to have horses to "race" against, or else when they are really on the track to run, they will be wanting to play, and not listening to the jockey.
And the horse has to be taught how to rate itself, to hold back when asked, to open up when told to, and not fight the hands.
It is not something easily done, if at all, in the backyard, unless you want to bushtrack, that is what they call it down South, where people are just ruining, and that is NOT a play on words, as they run horses hard, and don't care what happens to them, against a bunch of good old boys.
Dubious training, dubious feeding, dubious people in many cases.
Many horses are nominated for all sorts of things when foaled or shortly thereafter, it doesn't mean the horse is particularly outstanding, it is just those things have to be done in timely manner, as if they aren't, then it doesn't matter how good horse is, they are out of luck.
I'd just find something to enjoy with this horse, as the opinions on her leg injury given by above posters is sound.
Racing and training is very expensive, if it is done right, and if it isn't done right? Not worth doing at all.
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