So You Want To Work With Racehorses

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A Brief History

Maybe you have had a dream of working with racehorses or some career where you get to work with horses in general.  There are a number of ways you can get to work with and around racehorses and within the horse racing industry. You do not have to become a champion jockey or a racehorse trainer to do it.  Let us take a look at some other job and career prospects that will allow you to be a part of the business so you can mingle with and help the animals you love.

Digging Deeper

Become a Stable Hand

In this job, you get plenty of opportunities to be up close and personal with either or just regular pleasure horses.

You will be responsible for keeping the tables clean, tidy and in good condition, as well as feeding the horses, giving them fresh water to drink, saddling them up ready for some track riding or exercise, horse grooming, and taking the animals for regular walks.

For a career as a stable hand, you will have to be prepared for early starts, as generally you will be waking up and on the job by about 4 in the morning.

It is well worth it though if you end up being the stable hand for one of the Melbourne Cup 2019 racehorses.

How About Becoming a Pre-Trainer?

What is a pre-trainer?

It is a position where you will be dealing with young horses. The ultimate track trainer won’t take responsibility for a racehorse until it is almost fully grown. Prior to that, the young horse is in the hands of a pre-trainer.

Your responsibilities include developing the horse’s levels of fitness with an exercise program so that the horse is of a certain fitness standard when handed over to the licenced trainer.

Some pre-trainers used to be licenced trainers, as the job requires extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to racehorse training. Pre-trainers earn less money than licenced trainers, so this early development stage of the horse saves the owners some money.

The Role of a Farrier

The role of the farrier is a specialised field and he/she plays an important part in the racehorse’s team.

As a farrier, your main focus will be taking care of the horse’s hooves. You will be equipped with the right tools for the trade, and some of your tasks will include shaping and trimming the hooves, along with the pivotal tasks of correctly fitting shoes to those hooves.

Blacksmithing skills are an integral part of the farrier’s abilities, and you could find yourself working in a racehorse stable, a stud farm, taking care of pleasure horses, or even equestrian horses.

Another important task a farrier is responsible for is regularly checking the lower limbs of the animals to make sure there are no injuries.

The Thrills of a Horse Breaker

No horse can be ridden by a track rider or jockey until it has first been “broken in”.

Horses are not born naturally accepting a saddle and rider. They first need to get used to this, and that’s where the horse-breaker plays a major role.

A horse breaker will steadily get the young racehorse used to having a saddle on its back and a rider hopping on board. As a horse breaker, you’ll put the horse through some training basics, get them used to wear a bridle, as well as teaching them how to start from a barrier.

Horse breakers are often self-employed, working wherever they are required at the time. You will need to be extremely good with horses and well trained for the job.

Become a Track Rider

As a track rider, you’re like a stand-in for a jockey. Track riders are often called “work riders”, and that is because you are basically putting a racehorse through its paces instead of the team having to hire a jockey to do it day in and day out.

Track riders work closely with the trainer to get the racehorse in peak physical condition by doing track work. These track exercises will include:

  • Trotting
  • Cantering
  • Walking
  • Galloping

It’s a very important job and one that can either make or break a potential champion. Many track riders work as freelancers, just like horse breakers do, but sometimes a trainer will employ a track rider on a more permanent basis.

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever watched a horse race?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Carter, John.  History of Horse Racing: First Past The Post: Champion Thoroughbreds, Owners, Trainers and Jockeys, Illustrated with 220 Drawings, Paintings and Photographs.  Lorenz Books, 2013.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Noah Salzman of horse racing at Golden Gate Fields, Albany, California. Race 5, 6 furlongs, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland