Article by HRH Haya bint Al Hussein.. The life of a racehorse trainer

March 23, 2017  
On the 25th of March, we will celebrate the running of the Dubai World Cup, a horse race that hosts some of the best horses in the world running in a country with a great heritage tradition in this sport. Many people love to attend and follow this race, but many also want to know more, simple things that would make their day at the races more exciting and informed. Often there are questions that may seem too basic to ask, and the books and accounts on horse racing are too specific and purist based to explain to a newcomer what this incredible sport is all about. In a countdown of articles that will run the week up to the Dubai World Cup I hope that my words will help share the sport with a greater audience.

Horses possess at their core an essential honesty.

They will never fake an injury or illness to avoid work. This disarming quality is what draws so many people to horses. Emotionally, they have no hesitation in revealing their fears and insecurities.

It could be said that a horse is an open book, but that means little unless we can understand the language.

The finest horsemen and women have what seems to be an intuitive ability to read a horse. We might call it a gift, but for most it has come from a lifetime working with, and observing, horses.

The racing success of a Thoroughbred horse requires that its mental, physical and nutritional needs are met.

The men and women who undertake this role are called trainers - a rather simple term for a complex job that requires them to be an athletics coach, nutritionist, manager, and equine psychologist all rolled into one.

They need to be good communicators, too, because racehorse owners will be keen to get regular updates on the training of their animal.

The best trainers have a love of the Thoroughbred and are dedicated to the racing industry. They employ a raft of people to ride and care for the horses. Horses are the largest employers of the animal world, they employ per one head between 3-5 people.

Even for a small farmer in a developing country, the minimum employment for a horse is 1 vet, 1 blacksmith, and one person to feed and care. In the larger racing stables, the average is 5 people.

Trainers need track riders, who will exercise the horse most days under the trainer's direction, as well as people who clean up after the horses and provide the regular meals, which will be carefully formulated to provide balanced nutrition.

And let's not forget a constant stream of visitors - the veterinarians, farriers and assorted therapists tasked with keeping the horses in top condition.

Horses may be remarkable athletes, but the strains of running at speeds of more than 60kmh can take a toll on their muscles, ligaments and tendons.

There are literally dozens of practitioners who may be called upon to help these horses perform, including massage therapists, equine chiropractors, acupuncturists, magnetic therapists, laser therapists, equine osteopaths and physiotherapists.

There are elements of racehorse training that seem almost universal. The track work - the daily

exercise routine - invariably unfolds first thing in the morning, often around dawn. The rest of the day revolves around the wider care of the horses.

However, it will ultimately be the ability of each trainer to "read" a horse - how best to feed it , train it, and cater to its mental health, that will determine race day success.

Horses are awe-inspiring athletes but they are not machines. Trainers who ignore their mental wellbeing will struggle to succeed.

It might be as simple as spotting when a horse might need an extra day off. In some parts of the world, it might be a gentle gallop away from the track on a heath, or even a walk along a beach. Like most athletes humans included beach work, helps the horse’s state of mi


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