Racehorse Care and Training

July 9th, 2015 by admin

Racehorses are athletes, and like any good athlete, a horse must be cared for, it must be conditioned, and it must be healthy. The process of caring for racehorses is thorough and complete, with the horse’s health being top priority. Racehorse care has many levels and many participants.

Preparing for a Race

Trainers devise special conditioning strategies, diet plans, supplements, and therapies specific to the racehorse’s needs. The horse depends on the groomers, trainers, veterinary team, and the jockey for optimal healthcare. The trainer is careful not to over-train a horse, especially before an event, as it can lead to dehydration, injury, cramping, and strains before and during an event. The trainer is someone who is licensed by the state to train racehorses. The trainer creates a daily routine to train the horse and to calm the horse. The daily routine includes exercises and a particular feeding schedule to prepare the horse for the big day. Feeding an athlete is not as simple as tossing a bale of hay or feeding the horse a handful of oats. The proper racehorse care requires a specialized diet designed to increase stamina, promote increased energy, and to aid in muscle rebuilding and repair. Racehorses are particularly prone to stomach ulcers, so a diet must consist of feeds high in fiber and natural oils. A particular blend can consist of oats, maize, soy oil, alfalfa, and pulp from sugar beets. This type of diet is formulated to assist the horse’s body to digest and store. Unlike humans, equine athletes do not require protein for maximum performance because they are herbivores. After training, a trainer will call for hydrotherapy, cold therapy, and/or heat therapy. A racehorse benefits from massage modalities as well. Each method aids in reducing inflammation, promoting muscle repair, increasing blood flow to sore areas and reducing aches. During the grooming process, it is important for the groomer to report any changes, injures, and problems. The groomer is also responsible for shoeing a horse properly and administering any prescriptions. A veterinarian and trainer will prescribe nutritional supplements, inoculations, and medications for the racehorse. The prescriptions are monitored carefully to ensure maximum health, but also to comply with industry regulations. Horses are tested prior to racing, and if the results reveals prohibited substances, medications, and ingredients, the horse is disqualified, and both the trainer and owners face strict penalties.

Racehorse Care Post-Race

After the race, the horse’s health and body are top priority. The horse is considered ‘sound’ when it is injury-free and of overall good health. Once the race completes, the horse has to be cooled down. The process involves walking the horse around until the body regulates itself. The goal is to return the horse’s heartrate back to normal. Once the horse cools off, it rests in its stall and is given water to help the horse cool down. The team will perform a healthcare check on the horse. The horse is not given food immediately after the race. If the horse eats while the body is still hot, a number of medical conditions, such as founder, can set in. When the horse is in its stall, a clay mixture is molded to the legs to aid in a quicker recovery. After a couple days of rest and healthcare check-ups, the horse begins the training regimen all over again for the upcoming race. Any medical and performance concerns noted in the previous race are addressed in the next round of training.

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