How to Keep Your Pregnant Mare Comfortable Amidst Seasonal and Lighting Changes

Those who are familiar with horses sometimes describe mares as being polyestrous explains owner Richard D. Schibell.  These animals often go through several heat cycles each year.  However, the reproductive tracts of mares rarely cycle in the autumn and winter.  The body chemistry of mares instinctually determines it is a bad idea to enter such a state.  The mare’s temperature naturally decreases as the days shorten in the fall and winter months.  Mares need about 16 hours of daylight along with eight hours of darkness to continue their reproductive functionality.  Provide your mare with the proper environment and you will have done your part to prevent a premature estrous.

Supplemental Lighting for Mares

In some situations, it makes sense to use supplemental lighting for a mare.  Though using artificial lighting is not a new technique, it is worth mentioning as it is quite effective.  Lighting really will kick-start the mare’s cycle through manipulating her body into believing the winter months are ending and the spring is right around the corner.  The mare’s retina registers the supplemental light, communicating to the body that it should suppress the production of melatonin, spurring an impact on several hormones and causing the follicle to be stimulated and subsequently developed. The use of artificial light to stimulate the mare’s cycle is especially helpful in preserving time if you seek an early foal.  This strategy is also effective in response to pre-breeding.

If you decide to use supplemental lighting for your mare, be sure to apply it as early as possible within reason.  The mare should be beneath the light starting in the final weeks of November or the first couple weeks of December.  This timing provides the mare with between a month and three months of photo-stimulation that triggers the start of the initial estrous cycle.  Just be sure to set up the lighting in a manner that guarantees your mare can see it.  Supplemental lighting will not be effective if it fails to register with the horse’s eyes.  So do not give your mare the opportunity to linger in the shadows, hang her head out into a barn aisle or find another way to avoid the light.  You will enjoy optimal results with the use of a timer to ensure consistency.

Common Supplemental Lighting Mistakes Horse Owners Make

Plenty of horse owners make the mistake of using dim lights.  Mares should be exposed to lights that are around 100 watts or more in power.  Provide your mare with a minimum of 100 watts and you won’t have to worry about whether photo-stimulation occurs.  Above all, do not forget to turn the lights on and leave them on.  Do not miss a single night.  Missing one or several lighting sessions makes it difficult for the mare to properly respond and alter to the seasonal change you are artificially creating.

If you notice any indications of heat from the lights, turn them off.  Continue to introduce daylight in place of the supplemental light as time moves forward and your mare will continue to progress.  Though there are certainly plenty of mistakes to make with supplemental lighting, those who put forth an honest effort will enjoy meaningful results.

Be Careful With Supplemental Lights

Though pregnant mares can be put beneath supplemental lights to spur a fast post-foaling cycle, there is always the chance of early foaling.  If the pregnant mare is foaling early in the year, consider putting her beneath the lights.  Using lights is especially  helpful if you intend to breed the horse back not too long after her pregnancy.  If you were to let nature take its course, it might take several months or longer for the mare’s body to regulate to its normal heat cycle.  However, if your mare has a reputation of foaling before anticipated, be especially cautious with supplemental lighting.

It will also help to track the mare’s cycles with regular ultrasound scans.  These scans will give you an idea as to how quickly progression is taking place.  If your mare is not progressing as quickly as expected, do not panic.  Certain horses are more responsive to lighting and other stimuli than others.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your mare during these seasonal changes feel free to contact us. You can also follow Richard Schibell directly on twitter or LinkedIn to stay up to date. Don’t forget to keep checking for new articles on the Richard Schibell Racing blog!

The top Considerations as Gestation Completes

Most people are surprised to learn the majority of foal growth takes place in the last couple months of mare gestation.  Though it is difficult to picture in the mind’s eye, it really does take more than 200 days of gestation for a foal to reach the size of a small dog.  The mare is under considerable pressure during the final months of gestation as the foal grows.  Let’s take a look at the top considerations when caring for pregnant mares as observed by Richard Schibell of Richard Schibell Racing team.

Re-evaluate the Mare’s Nutritional Intake

The mare should enjoy a diet of nutritional foods across the entire period of gestation.  The final couple months of gestation are especially important.  This period of fast growth causes the foal to require that many more nutrients.  If the mare is undernourished or does not received a balanced nutritional intake, she won’t have the nutrients her foal needs to grow and be healthy.  The mare must also have adequate milk production to boot.  Make sure your foal is eating high-quality forage.  Consider increasing the grain intake to guarantee your mare is receiving adequate amounts of vitamin A, phosphorus, protein and other essential nutrients and minerals.

The bottom line is your mare must maintain her weight across gestation to support proper fetal growth.  The mare must be able to lactate and maintain adequate energy levels.  When in doubt, turn to feed companies’ maternity rations specially designed to suit the needs of pregnant horses.  It also makes sense for breeders to consider the merits of pasture forage as certain grasses have the potential to become infected with a fungus that leads to problems with an overly-thick placenta, stillborn or weak foals and insufficient milk production.  Remove your mare from such grasses at least there months before foaling.  Ensure your mare is in the ideal body condition so she is capable of holding a steady weight across the entirety of the pregnancy.  If your horse is overweight or underweight, there is the potential for the foal’s development to be compromised or for the milk supply to decrease following foaling.

Decrease Exercise

Reducing your mare’s exercise does not mean the horse should be left in the stall to rest.  Every mare, regardless of whether she is pregnant or not, requires considerable movement.  The mare should be mobile throughout the majority of the pregnancy.  Do not give into temptation to hop onto your pregnant mare and take a ride.  Take it easy on her during the pregnancy.  Keep in mind the additional weight gain in the final months of pregnancy will stress her body that much more.

Keep the Vaccinations Up-to-date

Meet with the vet to establish a vaccination schedule.  This meeting should take place immediately after you find out the mare is in foal.  Setting this schedule early in the process is prudent as there will be a plethora of things for you to do in the coming weeks and months.  Aside from the Pneumabort vaccine provided at months 5, 7 and 9 to guard against the equine herpes virus, the mare should also be dewormed with regularity.  Abide by a consistent deworming schedule and you will minimize the chance of the foal being exposed to harmful parasites.  The final treatment should occur when there is about a month to go prior to the end of gestation.  Just be sure to take a close look at each product’s label to ensure the dewormer is safe for pregnant horses.

Find the article helpful? Read more by following the Richard Schibell Racing blog! You can also follow Richard Schibell on twitter for more updates.

An Inside Look at how Elite Horses are Prepped for Successful Racing Careers

Most people watch the Kentucky Derby and wonder how these amazing horses reach their current level.  An abundance of time, effort and money are invested in training thoroughbred horses.  These horses are prepared for racing careers early in life.  However, horse training methods are distinct to each individual trainer and racing market.

Thoroughbred Horses Start Similarly

It is often said a race is worth having as long as the entrants start at the same point.  Indeed, thoroughbred racehorses start life in similar surroundings.  These widely coveted horses are either kept by their breeder owners such as Richard Schibell Racing, or auctioned off for top dollar.  In some cases, breeders and bloodstock agents connect to help buyers pinpoint the perfect horses.  It is also possible to purchase a racehorse by way of claiming races.  These events feature potential buyers who plunk down their money to assume ownership of elite horses.

Elite horses are bred and transported from one part of the globe to the next.  Each horse’s race training is dictated by the area in which it resides along with its owner’s nuances.  It is particularly interesting to note massive thoroughbred venues now exist everywhere from Japan to France, India, Peru, Argentina, Singapore and Hong Kong.  There are unique training methods in each region of the world.

The Early Days of Racehorse Training

Racehorses start training before regular horses as well as horses that participate in other riding disciplines.  For the most part, racehorses start training at two years old.  Some point to this early training as part of the cause of thoroughbreds’ particularly temperamental personalities.  Thoroughbreds are still developing their bodies as well as their minds when they are prematurely put into service.  The racehorse training process has the potential to push a budding star toward his full potential and also highlight horses that are not cut out to race.  In general, younger horses are favored by racehorse owners in the United States.  Older horses are raced at a higher frequency in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world.

Race Trainer Selection

Those who breed horses choose race trainers according to a number of important criteria.  The trainer’s current or prior relationships along with training methods, track record of success, level of attention provided to horses and access to racecourses all play a role.  Furthermore, pricing, relationships with jockeys and years of industry experience also shape the selection process.  Some trainers go as far as completing university programs to master the nuances of equine care.

Training Regimens

Horse training differs based on location.  Racehorses are treated similar to regular horses in the United Kingdom and Europe.  Horses in these countries are commonly stalled at trainer barns by racecourses and get a considerable turnout and herd time.  In comparison, racehorses in the United States are typically tabled at tracks and remain in the shedrow for a larger chunk of their lives.

Training regimens are quite different in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.  Workouts that take place in the United States are usually comparably shorter.  These workouts are conducted at the racecourse itself as opposed to a public/jockey gallop.  There is also more of an emphasis on mastering sprinting so lengthy United States races are considered to be merely middle distance for those in Europe.  Furthermore, thoroughbred racing in the United States is restricted to flat racing.  Few races take place on grass as dirt tracks or tracks of the synthetic variety are available.

Critiques of the United States’ Training System

The high prevalence of thoroughbred bloodlines and comparably light training have created a situation in the United States that many consider to be potentially disastrous.  The United States has a disproportionately high percentage of fragile horses that end up with egregiously short racing careers.  Thankfully, there has been an uptick in interest in developing racehorses that are more reliable and sturdy.

Australian horses are trained more along the lines of the European racehorses.  However, there has been a strong focus on print races in the recent past.  Sprints comprise the majority of the under cards at events like the Caulfield Cup.  Australia’s breeding industry could eventually be affected by this trend.  It is interesting to note horses used at racecourses rarely receive the same intense training as horses in other disciplines.  Rather, horses at racecourses respond best to simple commands and are willing to reply with the basic trot/canter gaits.  Horses with more years of experience and horses located in the United Kingdom that participate in jumping races typically have a much broader base of skills.

As soon as horses are trained to accept the rider and are capable of accurately understanding and responding to basic requests, they will figure out how to break away from the starting gate.  This breakaway often proves to be one of the more challenging components of training.  Some trainers and breeds go as far as using miniature gates.  The horse is steered toward the gate and slowly taught to move to the chute and stay there as the rear door closes.  The horse is taught to rapidly respond to the opening of the gate at the race’s beginning.  Furthermore, horses are introduced to the buzzer or bell sound so they are not spooked when it sounds at the race.  Though there is always the potential for an accident to occur at the post with an especially nervous horse, those who train their horse properly minimize the chances of such an event.

Take the Broad View and Start Early Every Single Day

The best of the best zero in on training the horse to run well and schooling the animal in track activities.  Teaching the animal the track basics ultimately reduces anxiety and makes the competition that much more enjoyable for the horse.  Ask around and you will find some of the best racehorses train in the early morning hours.  This is the time of the day when horses are fresh.  The mornings are cool, calm and rife with opportunity.  Keep your eye on the prize at the end of this process, keep pushing and your horse will eventually realize his potential.

Richard Schibell has been involved with racing and breeding thoroughbred horses for over 35 years. Stay up with our content by following the blog at Richardschibellracing.com!

A Look at What Goes Into Training a Horse for the Kentucky Derby

Seeing a thoroughbred gallop across a racetrack is quite the invigorating sight – a sight that Richard D. Schibell has loved seeing for over 35 years.  One can only imagine what it is like to own a horse that races in the Kentucky Derby, often dubbed the most exciting two minutes in all of sports.  Even if you do not have millions of dollars to spend on thoroughbred horses, you can still raise a horse that is competitive with the elite bloodlines.

Training a Horse for the Derby

It all starts with a dream.  The process of preparing a horse to compete in the Kentucky Derby is a true challenge yet those daring to dream are the only ones who stand a chance to make it happen.  Most of the horses racing in the Kentucky Derby are young.  A ton of work is jam-packed into a couple years preparing the horse to race on the biggest stage of them all.

A horse is permitted to race in the Kentucky Derby if considered to be three years of age.  This means the horse must have had a single year or possibly less, of racing.  The question is how to prepare a horse to hang with the best of the best in the ultimate race of them all.  Preparing a thoroughbred for this type of pressure and distance is not easy.

The Basics of Raising a Legitimate Race Horse

The initial step in training a legitimate race horse is getting them familiar with being handled by a jockey/owner and being tacked up.  The filly or colt will have to become used to the saddle’s weight, the feel of the girth tightening, the bit in the mouth and the rider being atop.  The horse will also have to practice working on the process of loading into the race start gate, remaining still while the gate shuts and rapidly breaking into stride.

The challenges detailed above are easy to talk about and difficult to master.  Training your horse to complete each of these steps will prove difficult.  Do your best to understand your horse’s unique personality and you will find training proves that much easier.  Continue to study your horse during the maturation process to gauge mannerisms and tendencies so you can respond appropriately across posterity.

Progressing From the Second Year to the Third Year

As soon as your horse reaches the second or third year, it is time to hit the track.  Trainers typically find they get the best out of their colts between the early morning hours of 6 and 10.  The horse should be brought out to the track every single day for gallops or routine jogs.  The trainer will ultimately dictate the total distance the horse runs each day.  Furthermore, the trainer will be responsible for managing the horse’s speed during training sessions.  The upcoming race dictates the level of work and the speed at which the rider keeps his horse.  As an example, the Kentucky Derby is 1.25 miles in length so a horse trainer considering entering such a race will have to keep his colt up to this distance during training sessions.

Some training sessions will bring the horse right on up to a rapid gallop to gauge speed and athletic ability.  This type of session is referred to as a breeze or work.  Such workouts are eligible for timing by the track’s clocker.  These workouts can be published in track programs as well as industry documents so prospective buyers and those interested in wagering on horses can gauge performance prior to actual races.

Consider the Environment

Horse racing is about more than timing and conditioning.  Horses must be exposed to racing environments including cramped starting gates and areas in which other horses are closely positioned.  Horses will inevitably bump against one another during races and before and after races.  Consider training some of your horses alongside one another so they understand what it is like to be surrounded by other horses on a racetrack.

Richard Schibell Racing and owner Richard Schibell have had the honor of racing in two separate Kentucky Derby’s. First in 2012 and then again in 2013, the team took the trip down with Let’s Go Stables and their thoroughbreds El Padrino and Verrazano.

The Optimal Training Program for a Two-year-old Horse

The price you pay for a foal is representative of the animal’s pedigree and potential.  However, it is not only the horse’s pedigree that matters.  The time, effort and money you invest in training your foal also matter a great deal say Richard Schibell of Richard Schibell Racing.  If you give it your all and remain patient, you will enjoy a significant competitive advantage over the competition at the track.

Getting the Most out of Your Two-year-old Horse

Plan properly, put in the necessary effort and you will have quite the capable racehorse on your hands.  The challenge is in training your horse without causing an injury.  Unfortunately, nearly three-quarters of all conventionally trained two-year-old horses end up with some type of repetitive loading injury along the shins.  This type of injury really does limit the horse’s soundness and subsequently, the animal’s potential earnings.  In fact, some old fashioned trainers used to intentionally buck horse shins just to get the process out of the way at the outset of the animal’s racing career.  The horse was then provided with a considerable amount of time to rest before resuming training.  Though plenty of horses survived this process and emerged without issues, a considerable portion (about 12 percent) endure fractures at some point down the line.

Standard breeds do not buck shins as they train and compete in the same gait, pace, trot, etc.  However, thoroughbreds have shin issues as they commonly train at varied paces, many that are significantly slower than the pace of a competitive race.  These animals develop what those in the industry refer to as gallop bone as opposed to breeze bone.  Once breezes begin, problems arise.  When the horse gallops at a pace less than 2:45, the cannon bone can strike the ground at just the right angle and new bone will quickly form as a counteractive force.  If breeze speeds of 13 seconds per furlong or higher are reached, it is possible for the cannon bone to strike the ground at a 90-degree angle, causing highly dense bone to form along the front and inner portions of the cannon bones that ultimately empowers the animal to endure the physicality of competitive racing.

Altering the Rate of Bucked Shins

The study noted above consisted of four groups.  The first was comprised of those subjected to traditional training along a regular dirt track.  The second group involved traditional training along a surface comprised of wood chips.  The third group was the control group that was turned out to pasture.  The fourth group was the modified training group.  It is interesting to note the horse in the first group buckled its shins.  The horse in group two had less emerging bone than the horse in group one.  The cannon bone in group three’s horse proved round for the most part.  The horse in group four had comparably thick and dense bone along the front and interior portion of the shin.

The academics responsible for this study proceeded to test their findings on an even wider scale with more than 200 two-year-old horses.  These animals were studied from across nearly half a dozen unique stables for the next 11 years.  One of the stables that had frequent breezes and applied modified training decreased the chances of bucked shins by nearly 99 percent.  The horses in stables one and four were subjected to traditional training.  These horses had the highest frequency of bucked shins.  It was determined weekly breezing boosted the odds of bucked shins by more than 36 percent.

However, even if the horse did not buck, the overarching development was still compromised by the inability to generate bone that will prove reliable in a highly competitive race.  Tendon strength must be in place when the horse is quite young.  Once the stage is set for ideal bone growth in these young animals, the style of training must optimize their muscles, tendons, etc.

The Difference Between Classical and Modified Training

Classic training is dubbed as such as it is traditional training composed of several miles of lengthy yet slow gallops meant to leg up the two-year-old for a successful racing career at the track.  The majority of gallops no longer increase once the two-mile mark is reached.  Paces are maintained in the range of 18 to 20 seconds per furlong.  This equates to around 2:30 per mile.  Breezes are provided at a frequency of once per week or so and typically range between 1-4F in length with speeds about 13 seconds per furlong.

Modified training, also known as scientific training, is inspired by a number of venerable academics who have completed extensive testing of two-year-olds across several decades.  Horse gallops are usually shorter from a mile to the mile and a quarter mark.  Speedwork is introduced at an earlier point.  The gallop culminates in speed work two times per week, beginning with 1 F / 15 seconds and 3F in 40 seconds three months later.

Modified Training for Two-year-olds

The Maryland Fair Hill Training Center is home to Dr. John Fisher.  This horse expert has been perfecting the protocol for modified two-year-old horse training for several years.  Fisher has his own stable of horses.  Horses are broken to ride in the autumn at a young age.  These youngsters can gallop a single mile at a pace of 18 to 20 seconds per furlong by the start of the winter of their first year.  Fisher insists young horses’ bones must endure the strains required of competitive racing as quickly as possible.  This easily exposure give bones the opportunity to start remodeling in the best way possible.  Though this practice has the potential to affect the rest of the equine body, the risk is worth it.

In general, it is ideal for thick bone development to occur along the cannon bones.  These bones should be shaped similar to ellipticals as opposed to circles.  Thick bones are desirable so the horse can endure the stress of racing without pain or injury.  If the horse gallops along at a pace of 18 seconds per furlong or slower, the animal’s bone will be exposed to considerable shearing.  This tension during breezes results in compression forces that spur bone growth that is perfect for competitive racing.  The moral of this story is that additional speed is not always better.  Gradually load the young horse’s bones with exercises related to racing and the bones of a two-year-old will prove just as strong as those of a more mature four-year-old.

Dr. Fisher’s modified training protocol stages are as follows: the initial stage requires the completion of two gallops along with a culminating furlong in :15 across five weeks.  The second stage mandates two gallops with final 2F across :30 in five weeks.  Stage three extends the horse’s gallops to one and a quarter miles two times per week.  It is particularly interesting to note that speed is maintained as a constant while distance is increasing.  As speed heightens, distance moves back on off.  This is an example of how altering variables in exercises results in beneficial adaptations.  In this situation, the variable of distance is reduced while the variable of speed is heightened.

It is important to note horses who have passed through this nuanced training program have not shown any increase in injury rate.  The training program develops young horses’ bodies as well as their minds.  However, it is important that the rider prove patient throught the entirety of the training program.  If the rider remains calm and collected, there won’t be any chance for nervousness to be transmitted to the horse.  It is especially important for the animals walk to the barn at a comfortable pace.  Walking is a fantastic exercise that does not hinder bone modeling in the slightest.

Legitimate Science Backs the Results Detailed Above

The masterminds behind the study detailed above found across the past two decades a gallop has shown to build a distinct type of bone while breezes are responsible for the building of another type of bone.  The breeze bone is essential for safe racing.  Progressive overload is central to exercise physiology, regardless of whether the subject in question is a horse, person, dog or other animal.  In general, living things become stronger when subjected to progressive stress.  All it takes is the manipulation of variables such as intensity and duration to cause the physiological systems to alter and subsequently strengthen.

Furthermore, the closer your horse’s training resembles that of elite competitors, the better your chances are for success.  Legging up might prove to help with aerobic conditioning along with the development of additional soft tissue systems.  However, lengthy and slow gallops have the potential to damage bone structure that is essential to every young thoroughbred’s development.

Follow the advice set forth in this article and you really will enjoy a meaningful competitive advantage over the rest of the field.  Though it is still certainly possible your horse will pull up lame with this new training schedule, the return on investment and overarching success rate across posterity will convince you to keep moving forward with this proven approach to horse training. Be sure to follow the Richard Schibell Racing blog for more articles like this one!

A Look at What Life is Like for the Average Racehorse

Racehorses have surprisingly busy lives.  These animals are busy even before the point in time at which they arrive at the trainer’s yard.  You read that right!  Horses are incredibly busy in the first couple years of their life, especially if they are pegged as candidates for racing.

The First Month of the Horse’s Life

Some foals have already moved with their dam to an appointment with a selected stallion as soon as the first month of their life.  It is fascinating to consider the fact that certain foals have witnessed more in their brief lives than some older horses have seen in entire lifetimes.

There is the potential to sell thoroughbred horses as foals.  In other cases, these horses are sold as yearlings.  In some situations, horses are sold at two years of age.  The sale of two-year-old horses often occurs at what has been dubbed as Breeze Up sales.  In some cases, the breeder sends the horse directly to the trainer without entering the sale ring.

The Process of Breaking in the Horse

Horses are typically broken in around the age of a year and a half.  By this point in time, horses are used to being handled and having a bit in the mouth.  At this age, horses are comfortable donning rugs and passing through examinations performed by various people.  The manner in which the horse is broken in hinges on the unique trainer’s nuanced preferences.  Certain horses are broken in with conventional methods.  As an example, some trainers rely on long reining to break in horses.  Once the horse passes through this stage, it is time for it to accept the presence of a rider above.

As soon as the backing stage is over and done with, the horse is ridden away.  This is the point at which the horse is taught to venture out with other horses.  In most cases, an experienced older horse will lead the pack.  The young horses might be taught how to canter in groups by others so the features of each particular horse can be identified.  Horses are also tasked with trotting figure eights and riding away from others.  As soon as horses pass through this portion of training, they should be provided with a few weeks of quiet time to relax.  This period also presents an opportunity to learn how to gallop.  At this stage, horses are typically ridden in long stirrups with walk, canter and trot being performed in a different direction each day to ensure the animal’s muscles develop in full.

As soon as the horse reaches an acceptable fitness level, it might be time to visit main gallops.  These gallops rise in a gradual manner to enhance muscle strength as well as the horses’ cardio performance.  The horses will likely hack with a canter and slowly boost their speed until they can perform sharp work.  Such work requires jumping off and subsequently breezing several furlongs.  The point of this exercise is to teach the horse to jump and run.  Jumping and running is fundamental to horse racing so the earlier the animal learns the basics the better.

The work described above is commonly performed with another horse nearby.  This approach teaches the horses that they should race one another yet it also helps teach them to settle and pay attention to the jockey instead of galloping wantonly without any concern for pace control.  Once the horses are near the point at which they are ready to run, they will be taught to enter and jump from the stalls.

General Rules for Riding

Racehorses are typically ridden in a distinct manner that is different from that used with the typical riding horse.  Minimal time is reserved for schooling the animal after the initial break-in period is completed.  The focus shifts to speed and fitness work at this point.  For the most part, racehorses hack to gallops on loose reins with minimal rider interference.  Racehorses tend to move out in a string and follow the horse in the front of the pack.

When transitioning to gallops, the rider will lean forward just a bit, lightly contact the horse’s mouth, stand in the stirrups and the horse will subsequently move off in canter.  It is up to the rider to bridge the reins to ensure a firm hold that guarantees the horse can lean against his or her hand.  If the rider alters his or her grip on the reins, the horse will consider it an indication that it should move faster.  Therefore, it is not advisable to change hands or shorten your grip on the reins unless you desire to ride faster.

What Life is Like for a Horse in a Racing Yard

Racehorses live quite the luxurious lives.  These animals eat tasty food, are properly cared for and receive prompt attention for all medical issues.  The average racehorse’s daily activities at the racing yard are typically centered on adherence to a strict routine that begins at dawn and extends until dusk.  The vast majority of racing yards have an individual designated to look after racehorses.  This individual eventually learns the horses’ idiosyncrasies to the point that he or she can pick up on their habits and tendencies and respond appropriately.

The average racehorse starts the day around five in the morning with a feeding.  Mucking out and riding occur between six in the morning and Noon.  Horses are typically exercised for an hour or so during this period of the morning.  The trainer oversees several strings of horses each day.  The second feeding occurs around Noon.  The early afternoon hours are commonly used a quiet period of time in which the yard shuts down.  Horses are given time to rest, the work crew eats lunch and things are allowed to settle down.

The late afternoon and early evening hours are reserved for stables when horses are skipped out, have their hair cut and are checked for injuries.  In some situations, horses will head out for some grass or proceed to the horse walker.   The late evening hours involve a late night check and present the opportunity for another feed.

Racehorses’ weekly exercise routine during the peak of the season is typically comprised of fast gallop sessions at least two times each week.  Steady trotting along with cantering are performed during the remainder of the week.  Sunday is often reserved as a rest day.  Horses in jumping yards might undertake schooling over jumps upwards of a couple times per week.

The Importance of Feeding

Feeding is an essential component of a racehorse’s training regimen.  The majority of racehorses are provided with three feedings per day at a bare minimum.  In some cases, horses are provided with four or more feeds.  Racehorses are limited to a specially formulated racing diet to ensure optimal performance.  The feed is rife with protein, fiber, starch, vitamins and minerals.

Off to the Races

Horses are usually fed about an hour prior to traveling on the big day.  Try to arrive at the course about three hours before the start of the race.  This early arrival provides your horse with an opportunity to relax in the setting where he will race.  This is also an excellent opportunity to give your horse some water and high-fiber feed.  Food and water should be eliminated from view at least a full hour prior to the race when the horse is removed from the stables and shifted to the designated ring to be saddled in the saddling boxes.  The horse is then walked to the primary parade ring where it is surrounded by throngs of people.  Hopefully, the horse remains calm and reaches the start safely.  It is assumed the horse will be able to walk around the front area of the stalls as the girths are checked.  As soon as the load up commences, the horses walk to the back portion of the stalls and load in a pre-established order.  This is a sensitive period of time so try to keep your horse as calm as possible.

Once the race ends, the winner is sent to the dope box where a urine sample will likely be taken to determine if any prohibited substances are in the horse’s system.  The horse is then washed and walked until dry.  The animal is provided with ample time to settle down prior to the drive home.  The horse is trotted up the next day to be examined for soundness.  As long as you do your part to maximize your horse’s potential, there is a good chance the animal will have a successful racing career.  Focus on the details as outlined in this piece and you will be well on your way to raising an amazing animal.

Breeding, raising and training thoroughbred racehorses is something that Richard Schibell has been doing for the better part of 30 years. While it is extremely difficult and taxing, it can be overwhelmingly rewarding. Richard Schibell Racing has had the privilege of breeding and racing dozens of high profile horses and will continue to do so throughout the country!

Everything You Should Know Prior to Breeding a Mare

If you are thinking about breeding your mare, take some time to study up on the subject.  Broodmare is a term commonly used to refer to a female horse that is relied upon to rear foals.  Broodmares are chosen with the anticipation that they will pass their genes down to their offspring and so on.  However, not every single mare qualifies as an optimal broodmare.  If you have a mare and are considering breeding, there are a number of things to consider prior to moving forward with the actual breeding.

“Breeding is more complex than most assume” says Richard D. Schibell, owner at Richard Schibell Racing.  This process requires more than bringing a mare and stallion together then raising the foal that results from the union.  Keep in mind there are countless undesired horses living in foster homes and rescue farms.  The sad truth is some such animals are riding the truck to the slaughter house right now.  The unfortunate reality of the situation is there are more horses in existence than welcoming homes.  So be sure to keep the following in mind when considering whether to breed your mare.

Consider the Cost of Breeding

The idea of breeding a mare to generate a foal might seem like a cheap means of obtaining another beautiful horse that has the potential to be a racing superstar.  However, it will cost a considerable amount of money to breed to an elite stallion.  It might take a couple thousand dollars to set up such a meeting.  There will also be vet costs related to the breeding.

Certain stud farms charge additional for mare care.  If the mare does not catch on the first try, more money will have to be spent to cover the extended stay.  Additional hormone injections and other necessary vet care will cost money to boot.  There is also a minor but very real chance of injury that has the potential to lead to even more vet bills.

Breeding is not the Same as Cloning

Plenty of people who are infatuated with their mare assume that breeding it will generate a foal just like the mare.  This is a commonly held myth.  The truth is there is no certainty that the foal will have the same size, hue or other attributes as the mare.  However, it will certainly help to select the proper stallion.

Breed in a Responsible Manner

Every single mare that is bred and each stallion used to breed has to be worthy of reproduction.  If mares that are poorly conformed are bred in an irresponsible manner simply with the hope of generating a coveted foal, problems will result.  The bottom line is mares and stallions must earn the right to rear a foal.  Broodmares must prove themselves as either a performance or pleasure horse, display coveted traits and show their genetics are worthy of being passed on.

Mind the Risks

There is the potential for things to go wrong when the mare is in foal, amidst the birth process itself and during the period of time following the foal’s birth.  Though the majority of such potential problems can be rectified with assistance from the vet, you won’t be able to identify the problem unless you know what to look for.  Furthermore, you will need the financial resources necessary to cover vet bills.  Add in the fact that caring for a sick foal requires additional time and it is easy to see why people to go great lengths to keep their horses healthy.

Caring for Broodmares During the Pregnancy

Successfully transitioning through a pregnancy will take some time, effort and additional consideration.  The mare should be examined for twins early in the pregnancy.  This early examination will also provide the vet with the chance to check for infections and additional problems.  Once the mare is about halfway through the period of gestation, it will be necessary to feed her in a manner that empowers her to maintain her health as well as the foal’s growth.  The mare’s workload will have to be reduced at this point.  Once the 9-month mark is reached, the mare should be ridden infrequently.  All riding should cease immediately prior to the foaling date.  The mare should be analyzed by the vet who will explain which vaccinations are necessary.

A Space to Foal

If you do not have a place set up for your mare to foal, do not panic.  You can easily establish a fairly spacious stall that measures 12 feet by 12 feet.  Make sure this space is deeply bedded, sturdy and well-protected.  Check the stall for safety hazards that have the potential to hang up your foal.  Make sure  your foal will be completely safe from other horses that have the potential to steal feed or harass the youngster.  Once the foaling date nears, monitor the mare to gauge the point at which the pregnancy will occur.

After the Foaling

Once the mare has foaled, you will have to do certain things.  For one, you should verify the foal is healthy, whole and breathing.  If the foal looks sick or anything else is wrong, contact the vet.  Furthermore, the mare should be examined for injuries that might have occurred during the birth.  Watch the foal in the days after the birth to ensure the little one is properly hydrated and not suffering from an infection.

It will take upwards of several years of training before the foal can serve any meaningful purpose.  There is the potential for injury or illness to derail the young horse’s progress.  Make sure you have a backup plan in place just in case something were to happen to you or the horse’s caretaker.  This way, the money, time and effort you have invested in your young horse will not be put in jeopardy due to a temporary setback.

Breeding your first Mare is one of the biggest and most difficult decisions that you can make with your horse. Continue to read the Richard Schibell Racing blog for more information and tips regarding breeding and raising your foal.

A Look at how Horses Have Been Transported Throughout the Years

Can you imagine living in an era in which horse trailers did not exist?  It was not long ago when horses were used for transportation rather than for show and competition.  Let’s rewind the clock to years prior when horses played an extremely important and useful role in everyday living.  When one of these valuable animals had to be transported across a considerable amount of space, they were moved on foot.  This laborious process was quite straining compared to the modern day convenience provided by horse trailers.

The Early Days of Moving Horses

Prior to the days of horse trailers, people moved horses across vast distances on foot.  This process required a considerable amount of time and energy.  Those willing to make the walk across difficult terrain and through inclement weather ran the risk of exhausting the horse yet their effort paid considerable financial dividends.  Some horse traders traveled several thousand miles to buy and sell horses.

Shipping Horses Over Water

Horses have been transported across water way back in the days of Ancient Greece.  Records show horses were transported in boats as early as 1500 B.C.  These animals were eventually shipped in boats for war purposes during the Middle ages.  It is a shame that horses were subjected to horrible conditions on ships and eventually, oar-powered boats.  Horses were kept in slings aboard the deck or tethered down tight and boxed in tiny spaces within the hold.  It is no surprise some such horses transported in these diminutive spaces perished en route to their destination.

There were no loading ramps for horses in the early days of boating.  It was quite the chore to get these animals on and off ships. United States Army Veterinary Corps’ General William Carter has since detailed research that indicates how slings and other restraints for horses are unsuitable for these animals.

Equine Rickshaws and Modern Day Horse Trailers

Horse vanning debuted in the 18th century.  This approach to shipping horses across vast expanses of land was centered on horses transporting other horses as though they were a form of cargo.  This is certainly a slow and odd means of transporting horses yet it proved fairly effective.  Vanning first began way back in the late 18th century when a modified horse-drawn van was built to protect the feet of the beloved English racehorse Eclipse.  This is the unofficial beginning of the horse trailer.  It took until the early 19th century for vanning to reach the mainstream.

Transporting Horses by Train

The railway expansion in the 20th century made it possible to transport horses by train across considerable distances in a reasonable amount of time.  The only problem was horses hated being trapped inside dark, loud boxes for these railroad trips.  Add in the fact that the animals were tied in place with short tethers and riding the rails proved quite traumatic.  Nowadays, head bumpers, shipping blankets, leg wraps and additional protective gear are used to keep horses on trains safe and comfortable.

Richard Schibell has over 35 years of transporting his race horses and breeders. As you can imagine, he and Richard Schibell Racing have gone through numerous trailers and various forms of transport to move their horses throughout the country, as well as overseas. Learn more about Richard D. Schibell and his racing career over the past 3 decades.

Interesting Horse Breeding Facts Worth Knowing

The average person does not know much about horse breeding and there is nothing wrong with that.  Owners like Richard Schibell who work in the industry or those who just dabble in horse breeding, operate in an exclusive niche of sorts.  Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting facts about horse breeding that are typically limited to those who work in the industry.

The Type of Mare Matters a Great Deal When Selecting a Stallion for Breeding

Be careful when choosing the type of mare to breed your new horse.  Carefully consider the merits and drawbacks of the mare in question before proceeding.  If your aim is to make the pedigree faster, stronger or have improved stamina, make the appropriate selection before moving forward with reproduction.

The Stallion’s History is of the Utmost Importance

In order to breed a winning racehorse, you will likely need a thoroughbred stallion with a track record of success.  Take a close look at how prospective stallions performed on the racetrack.  The best indicator of future performance is previous behavior.  If you notice any clear flaws in the stallion, this is the time to explore them as there is the potential for such defects to resurface in offspring.

Cost is Important Yet It Should not be a Deal-breaker

Cost is a key component of breeding.  If your budget has strict limitations, there is a good chance a considerable number of stallions will be out of your price range.  If this is the case, you will have to carefully select the best of the available selection and hope for the best.

Stallion Breed is a Top Consideration

Thoroughbred horses are revered for their speed, agility, balance and racing prowess.  These horses were originally developed way back in the 17th century.  Oriental stallions and English mares were introduced to generate muscular stallions with fantastic racing bloodlines.

Consider the Location and Services

If you do business with a small group, there is a much better chance your mare will be provided with individualized attention.  The stud will mind to the horse’s needs and get to work as soon as possible.  However, horses do not begin to cycle until the winter months come to an end so some patience might be necessary.

These 5 tips can make or break a successful effort in breeding a thoroughbred stallion. Richard Schibell has been breeding stallions for decades and speaks from first had experience both in and out of the stable. If you have any questions regarding breeding or preparing for your first attempt, contact Richard Schibell Racing today!

The Best Questions to Pose to Your Horse Hauler

If you are thinking about hauling your horse across the county, state or beyond, do not give your business to any old horse hauler.  Meet with prospective horse haulers to find out about their services and pose some important questions.  Below, we take a look at the top questions to ask your horse hauler before handing over your horse for transportation. These are the same questions that Richard Schibell has been asking his haulers for decades!

Are additional services beyond the bare minimum available for higher fees?

If the horse hauler provides tiered services, find out what the higher fees provide.  If paying a bit more provides niceties ranging from comfortable accommodations to superior safety equipment or video surveillance of your horse while on the way to the destination, consider paying for the perks.

How long will it take to transport my horse?

You should be mindful of the time your horse spends on the big rig.  The average horse can easily endure a trip of two to three hours while positioned in a standing stall.  However, if the horse is traveling beyond a couple hours, a box stall should be used.  This way, the horse’s head will be free so it can move downward to permit mucous to drain out of the nose.  This drainage is essential to preventing illness.  Furthermore, providing the horse with additional room allows it enough space to move around.

If you are temped to bypass the horse hauling service and use your own trailer or van, do not do it.  Take the cheap route and you will almost certainly regret it in the end.  Big rigs have air-cushioned suspensions that really do decrease the stress applied to the horse’s body, making the trip that much more comfy.

What happens if there is a mechanical breakdown?

One of the worse possible outcomes of a horse haul is being stuck on an interstate road with a group of horses in tow.  A mechanical breakdown amidst a horse haul is a legitimately dangerous situation.  The best horse haulers perform consistent vehicle inspections and conduct preventive maintenance with regularity.  However, if a mechanical breakdown occurs, you should be aware of the company’s protocol.  You deserve to be aware of the safeguards in place to ensure your horses are safely transported.  Furthermore, you should know if the trip will be canceled, delayed or continued after the unexpected occurs.

What will you do if my horse needs veterinary care?

Ideally, the driver hauling the horses will be experienced with these animals.  The driver should check on the horses every now and then.  As long as he or she is experienced handling horses, it will be fairly easy to determine if something is wrong during the haul.  The driver should also be trained to provide equine first aid in the event of an emergency.  The business should provide each driver with a list of equine vets stationed along the way to the destination.  Furthermore, the driver should be willing to communicate with you immediately after health problems are noticed.

 Can I contact the driver at any time?

The best horse haulers are never too busy or too far off the grid to take a phone call.  The bottom line is you should always be able to reach the driver, regardless of his or her location.

What do you do to keep the transportation vehicles clean?

The big rigs should be thoroughly cleaned and fully disinfected between runs.  This thorough cleaning is essential to preventing disease and thwarting substances that have the potential to trigger a positive test following the race.

Is the driver qualified to transport my horse?

Any old big rig driver will not suffice for a project of this magnitude.  The truck driver should have a commercial driver’s license, known as the CDL.  Two drivers should be available just in case one becomes incapacitated.  A two-driver setup also allows one driver to sleep while the other drives.  This approach will ensure your horse reaches its final destination as quickly as possible.  However, it is a mistake to have two inexperienced drivers working alongside one another.

Find out about the drivers’ experience levels and whether they have been vetted in terms of background checks and drug checks.  Take a good look at the drivers when they arrive to pick up your horses.  If the drivers appear fatigued or off in any way, contact the company to make them aware of the development.

What is the horse hauler’s safety rating?

Take a look at the Company Snapshot database provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  This database provides helpful safety information about horse haulers.  The information includes the carriers’ safety ratings along with a summary detailing the roadside out-of-service inspection information and crash data.

Consider What Former and Current Clients say About the Horse Hauler

Perform a Google search to find out what others have to say about the horse transporter you are considering.  You can also pick the minds of those in the industry to gauge which horse movers are ideal for the haul you have in mind.  Just be sure to give some leeway to companies with a negative review or two posted to the web’s online review directories as a single customer’s warped view has the potential to portray the company in an unjustified dark light.

In the end your not just paying for the haul itself. The peace of mind that your horse will arrive safely and in a timely matter is with the extra price tag. Richard Schibell Racing has gone great lengths in sourcing the best haulers in the country to ensure that their horses are given the best treatment possible. Do the same and make sure your animal is in good hands!