While the horse is training, their attendant will thoroughly clean their stable and empty and scrub their water bucket to remove any debris that may have fallen in overnight.
When the horse returns from the track, they have 10 minutes of relaxing and rolling within a large circular sand roll as an essential part of the morning schedule. Rolling releases any physical or muscular tension a horse may have, not unlike a human stretching or receiving a massage after exercise. It also gives them a nice big scratch on the back, especially in soft sand, which relieves any itches without bruising any boney points. Rolling is also often the indicator of a healthy horse, as one with a good strong back will roll happily and vigorously. If they don’t seem to roll as easily, it could be a sign that something needs to be checked.
The horse is then hosed down and shampooed before using the walking machine for another 30 minutes of exercise.
By this time, the sun is well and truly up, and the vet and other professionals will examine each horse if required.
Ailments can range from a high temperature to small injuries sustained during training. The vet will thoroughly examine any issues, with a range of sophisticated treatment options available, from antibiotics to probiotics, massage, acupuncture, and anti-inflammatory medication.
Vets will occasionally scope a horse’s airways to check their breathing is uninhibited, and run their hands over the legs of horses to ensure there is no heat or swelling that indicates an injury.
If there is a hint of heat, four or five laps of the 50-metre horse pool and the application of anti-inflammatory gels may be used as remedies to counter any swelling.
The horse will then return to his or her stable, which is now thoroughly cleaned. There will be a new feed poured into their feed bin, and fresh hay provided for the roughage that is vital for a horse’s digestive wellbeing.
The farrier may attend to dress their feet, with most horses in training being reshod at least every four weeks. Horses must wear aluminium racing plates for race day, while they will have harder-wearing steel shoes during the early part of their campaign.
Other professionals will regularly attend the stables and treat horses as required during this quiet time after trackwork is complete, with options including a physiotherapist, chiropractor, masseuse, and/or nutritionist.
In the early afternoon, the horses are walked, taken for a pick on green grass and possibly swum in the pool. Swimming and walking near parklands where they can feed on the fresh green grass are parts of the training regime that the horses particularly enjoy.
Back in their stable in the late afternoon, feeds are again sent around with the amounts carefully measured and notarised on each horse’s chart.
The charts are an essential insight into the progression of each horse. They record the daily intake of feed and can help reveal any abnormalities with the horse.
At night, many trainers prefer to break up the monotony of the day feed by adding a mixture of hot water and molasses to sweeten the night feed.
The feeding regimes can vary from trainer to trainer, but the basic contents will be oats, other grains and chaff, with vitamins generally mixed with the wet feed of a night.
Generally, the only variant to this schedule is on race day when horses are equipped with long padded boots on their legs as protection during the float rides.
On their return to the stable, ice boots and cooling clay may be applied to their legs to aid the horse’s recovery after a long day at the races and competing at top speed.
Each team member working in a stable has one ultimate aim: to ensure these equine athletes are happy, healthy and loved.
(Photo by Karon Photography)