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Training a Successful Racehorse is an Art Form

Raising a winning racehorse requires much more than deep pockets.  The most successful horse owners and jockeys are well aware of the fact that training horses is an art form.  Richard D. Schibell has been breeding and racing thoroughbred racehorses for over 35 years and can speak from nothing but experience. The winning approach to each horse differs according to a number of factors from the race in question to the horse’s tendencies, personality and so on.  “The truth of the matter is every single horse knows how to run.  The challenge is in bringing out the best in your horse” says Schibell.

Get Your Horse Moving in the Right Direction

Horses that will one day run on a racecourse must learn how to properly run in a circle for extended distances.  The challenge lies in convincing the animal to channel its energy across the entirety of an entire race.  There are all sorts of subtleties in a horse’s gallop.  As an example, altering leads is an essential component of successful racing.  When horses run, the legs on a side of the body lead, meaning they move out farther than the legs on the other side of the body.  If you can coordinate these movements for maximum efficiency, you will get the most out of your horse.

Horses must be given ample time to prepare for upcoming events.  Let your horse begin with a routine jog followed by galloping in the early morning hours.  The training center or other venue will likely let you in prior to the race for these training sessions.

Horse races in the United States are typically designed with movement proceeding in a counter-clockwise motion.  The runner is on the left lead when turning and the right lead for straightaways.  If the horse is forced to remain on the same lead for an extended period of time, fatigue will set in that much quicker.

Training Progression

Continue to train your horse and it won’t be long until conditioning dramatically improves.  The horse should be challenged even more in subsequent exercise sessions.  The runner will breeze, meaning it will move at a strong pace across a specific amount of space.  Keep in mind, these runs are timed to determine fitness level and preparedness for actual races.

Mind the Starting Gate

The starting gate has the potential to sabotage your horse’s chances of winning.  The days of horses lining up in a straight line or behind a rope are long gone.  Instead of having someone wave a flag or raise/lower a rope, starting gates have been installed at race tracks across the world.  The first electric starting gate was used way back in the summer of 1939 at Vancouver’s Lansdowne Park.

Today’s horses must be comfortable being led into the starting gate or the race will get off to a rough start.  These gates are comprised of stalls with an opening and closing at the front and back of each end.  Stall doors are closed after the runner is positioned in the gate.  Once the field of horses is assembled, the starter presses a button to commence the race.  The front gates open and the horses bolt out.  The challenge is getting your horse acclimated to the tight starting gate stall space.  Horses are jammed tightly together in a small space and forced to quickly run in the same direction.

Be Patient as Your Horse Progresses

Gate training, working and lead changes are only a couple aspects of racehorse training.  Above all, it is important to remember every horse is unique and progresses at a unique rate.  Certain horses are energetic in the afternoon while others are lazy in the morning or evening.  Get to know your horse, alter training as necessary and you just might end up in the winner’s circle.

If you’re interested in learning more about horse racing and thoroughbred racehorse breeding make sure to read the Richard Schibell Racing blog. You can also click here to follow Richard Schibell  or Richard Schibell Racing on twitter.