Horse racing is highly unique compared to other types of sports betting for a variety of reasons. For one, communication with the competition prior to the race is not permitted. There is no way to determine how the competition feels or what type of pre-match strategy is in play. Yet there are some things horse bettors can do to maximize their chances of victory. The proper horse racing strategy for beginning bettors helps gamblers start with success and sidestep the common growing pains experienced by “newbie” bettors. Let’s take a look at some tips for horse bettors that will help those new to the industry win across posterity. The operative word in the previous sentence is posterity, meaning horse bettors should take a long-term view as opposed to assuming the first race or two is all that matters.
The most important aspect of horse race betting is to closely analyze the data. Though there is plenty of information available, you should not be paralyzed by the sheer volume of data. Parse through this information, highlight what is most important and use it in a strategic manner. It will take some time to get a sense of what information is most important and which sources are trustworthy. Ideally, you will use your track observations in addition to the data you have collected to make prudent bets. The moral of this story is it is a mistake to jump right into “betting the ponies” as industry insider like to say.
Instead of placing one or several bets during your first visit to the track, watch an entire day of races without any money on the line. Analyze the races and winners to identify strengths, weaknesses, advantages and other idiosyncrasies. Do your homework to determine the impact jockeys, trainers and even the animal’s bloodlines had on racing success. Once you have a feel for the track and horse racing as a whole, you will feel more comfortable placing wagers.
The day will eventually come when you understand which horse racing information is most important. By this point, you will likely understand some of the industry’s nuances including horse racing gambling strategies. You are now prepared to test your findings by gambling on horse races. Avoid the temptation to place a bet on a hunch. Do not put your hard-earned money at risk unless you believe the data, conditions and other factors are in the horse’s favor.
Perform Ongoing Evaluations
The best horse racing bettors in the world are well aware of the fact that the initial data analysis is usually insufficient. Information evaluation is an ongoing process that never ends. This process must be ongoing with numerous adjustments made along the way. As time progresses, you will understand specific information that should be prioritized. Continue to update your information and you will gradually improve your horse race wagering strategies in due time.
The specific ongoing adjustments to horse racing gambling strategies differ by each unique gambler. Most horse racing gamblers perform continuous adjustments of the weights applied to each piece of data used for analysis. Some factors are prioritized over others. In certain cases, some factors can be completely eliminated. Furthermore, if you notice a new trend on the rise, continue to add additional pieces to the horse race wagering puzzle in your quest to create the perfect system.
The best horse racing gamblers are willing to be intellectually flexible. Though you might have enjoyed the work required to come up with your initial horse racing betting strategies, adhering to this methodology without considering other options will come back to bite you in due time. If you are willing to make frequent adjustments to your betting strategy, you will stay in sync with the industry and ultimately make that much more money.
Successful Horse Racing Gamblers Have a System
Once you have the data sets you desire for horse racing gambling analysis, it is imperative you come up with a horse racing wagering system. This system takes the data currently available and applies it to shed light on scenarios in which there is a blatant advantage to wagering on a specific horse. If you do not create a system, you will never become a consistently successful horse racing gambler.
Sadly, plenty of horse racing wagerers place their bets on a gut feeling or hunch. Some rely on small amounts of data. Each of these approaches is highly flawed. Create a betting system and you will force yourself to strictly bet when there is a blatant advantage. A system combines pre-race data with trends identified after the race to pinpoint highly favorable situations for wagering. As an example, some horse racing gambling enthusiasts devise systems that identify opportunities for value in horses returning from layoffs, horses of specific ages and an array of other factors the majority of bettors ignore.
Do not plunk down hundreds or thousands of dollars at the betting window after creating your first racing gambling system. Test the system before betting a single dollar. Evaluate the system after several races, make the appropriate adjustments and transition to actual betting. Continue to perform ongoing evaluations of your system, optimize it as time progresses and you will be on your way to becoming a successful horse racing gambler.
Put in the Work and You Really can win Money Betting the Ponies
Though no horse racing wager is certain to win, it is impossible to make money unless you are willing to put something on the line. If you are willing to sift through the data, create a system and modify it appropriately, you stand a much better chance of winning than the rest of the gambling crowd. Though there is no fault in not making a betting system, you are much less likely to win big money as a recreational gambler. This is not to say you have to become a horse gambling aficionado; rather, take advantage of the available information and implement a data-based strategy.
Horse racing betting is not easy yet it is even more difficult when gamblers fail to use the data that is in front of them to make sound decisions. Though some of those new to horse racing gambling might be intimidated by the thought of doing research and coming up with betting systems that give them the best chance to win, a system is essential to success. Bettors who use a system tend to make significantly more money than those who lack a system. There is nothing at all wrong with failing to make a betting system and playing in a recreational fashion yet there are countless sources of information available to support a data-based strategy for beginners. Your wagers have the potential to become more of educated investments rather than gambles if you are willing to put in the work.
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Managing a horse barn requires a considerable amount of effort. Horse owners have to feed, groom and otherwise care for these beautiful animals in a variety of ways. Horse barn management includes stall maintenance, paddock upkeep, barn repair and so much more. If you own a horse, you might be concerned you are missing an important element of horse barn management. Fret not, our horse aficionados are here to help! Below, we have compiled a checklist that will help ensure you have not skipped over anything important when maintaining your horse stable.
How to Care for a Horse on a Daily Basis
“Daily horse care responsibilities must be performed in a precise and timely manner to ensure horse health” suggests Richard Schibell, team owner of Richard Schibell Racing. Feeding your horse is of the utmost importance. Horse nutritional requirements differ from one animal to the next. In general, the typical horse requires 15 to 20 pounds of hay on a daily basis along with some feed spaced out throughout the day. Be sure to take a look at the feed tag to determine if it suits the horse’s needs. Most manufacturers provide feeding instructions on the feed tag to make it easier for buyers to determine if the fed is optimal for their horse. The feed tag should also have information about how much food horses should consume.
Exercise Your Horse at Least Half an Hour Each Day
Horses should be exercised for at least half an hour each day. Exercise provides horses with the opportunity to enjoy a solid workout, get the blood flowing, burn up energy and enhance health. Horse exercise includes everything from riding to grazing in a field or paddock, using a lunge line, socialization with other horses and playing with toys.
Check Your Horse’s Water
The average horse will drink 10-15 gallons of water each day. The temperature ultimately dictates how much water the horse consumes. Provide your horse with clean, fresh water on a daily basis. This water should be accessible 24/7 throughout the entirety of the year. At the least, you should have several 5-gallon buckets of clean water available to the horse. These buckets should be scrubbed and rinsed on a daily basis prior to refilling. Fail to clean your horse’s water buckets and you run the risk of contamination and the breeding of parasites.
Do Some Grooming Each Day
Though grooming does not have to be performed on a daily basis, it must be performed at least two times each week. Most horse owners perform daily grooming yet full grooming is only necessary at specific intervals. Incorporate the use of a curry comb in your horse care routine to loosen all the gunk, hair and other grime so the animal’s skin can generate natural oils. Curry combs are typically moved in the shape of a circle to loosen as much embedded material as possible.
Provide Supplements and Medications
If you determine it is prudent to provide your horse with supplements or if your horse requires medication on a daily basis, administer each in a consistent manner. Minimize the potential for interruptions before administering medications or supplements. Do not skip a single day of medication or supplements and your horse will stand a better chance of enjoying a high quality of life across posterity.
Dispose of Soiled Stall Bedding
The buildup of urine, hay particles, dust and other substances has the potential to negatively impact the animal’s respiratory system. If you allow your horse’s bedding to become soiled or damp, it will enhance the likelihood of hoof ailments such as thrush. So be sure to muck every single stall to eliminate unhealthy elements in a timely manner. If necessary, replace the stall mats, bedding and flooring to ensure your horse has a clean and comfortable space.
Study the Horse
Observe your horse every single day. If the animal’s behavior or body language changes, it is a clue something might be wrong. The bottom line is no one knows your horse better than you. Study this animal on a daily basis and you will pick up on signs of injury, illness, etc. Simple observation really can result in a dramatic improvement in your horse’s quality of life, health and well-being.
Weekly Chores to Maintain a Horse Barn
Owning a horse is certainly a rewarding experience yet it requires considerable effort on a daily and weekly basis. Regardless of how much money you spent on your barn, it will require weekly maintenance and possible repairs. Analyze the barn, feed room, paddock and stalls on a weekly basis to pinpoint potential hazards. Take a close look at each stall to identify protrusions the animal might catch onto. Everything from splintered wood to nails can cause painful catching. If there is any storm debris outside of the bar or in the paddock, clean it. Trash is a problem beyond aesthetics as it will attract pests in due time.
Horse barn walls and ceilings should be covered properly. Even if a something as small as a light bulb shatters, it is a legitimate safety threat to the animal as well as its caretakers. Take a look at the ventilation fans from time to time to ensure they are functioning as intended. Check out the washing areas to ensure proper drainage. Take a look at cross-ties to guarantee they are perfectly secure with the proper breakaway latches. Clear out all clutter form the main aisle of the barn so the horse is not subjected to tripping hazards.
Perform Weekly Paddock Maintenance
Though the elimination of horse feces is not a glorious job, it is absolutely essential to maintain a healthy living space for your animal. Do not be intimidated by the time required to perform weekly paddock maintenance. Remove and dispose of feces several times each week to decrease the number of harmful pest eggs/larvae. Once the feces are removed, mow and harrow pastures to expose leftover larvae to predators and elements to maintain your horse’s health.
Maintain the Tack Room
Every single hook and piece of hanging equipment must be secure. Keep the saddles, tack, pads and other tack room items in working order by regularly analyzing each for wear and tear. Horse tack made of fleece, biomethane and nylon must be cleaned with regularity.
Summer is one of the best times to ride a horse yet the summertime heat has the potential to cause a number of serious problems for your horse. Summer heat can cause dehydration, malaise, lethargy and worse. If heat stress is severe, it can lead to diarrhea and colic. Let’s take a look at the top tips to keep horses cool, healthy and happy as we transition to the summer.
Provide Your Horse With Shade
Horses, just like human beings, require shade when the temperatures rise. Get your horse out of the sun and the animal will have a chance at remaining cool. Though your horse will be subjected the to sun during daytime training and riding, you should be mindful of how much sun the animal is exposed to. Ideally, you will have a run-in shed. Take a break from training and rides to guide your horse to nearby trees that provide cool shade.
Select Cooler Turnout Times
The average horse has a stall yet it is turned out for a portion of the day. Turnout should be provided during cool periods as opposed to the blazing hot afternoon. The ideal turnout time is overnight. However, if this is not possible, the horse will have to be taken outdoors early in the morning. There is also the chance that summer heat will reduce the quality of the pasture. Do not hesitate to add more feed as your horse has less and less grass to consume. Otherwise, the animal will struggle to maintain the optimal energy level and body condition.
Mist the Horse
If you do not have a misting system, now is the time to consider buying one. As the horse’s skin absorbs moisture, it will take away part of the heat. Regular mistings are much more effective than one-and-done spray-downs with a hose.
Air Circulation is Important
Run several large fans throughout the barn to ensure proper air flow. Just be sure to position the fans far away from the horse as the animal might trip over cords, gnaw at plugs and so on.
Do not let Your Horse Become Sunburnt
Most people are unaware of the fact that horses have the potential to be burned by the sun. Horses with white and other light-colored hair are most likely to be sunburnt. Sadly, horses with just a little bit of white such as a blaze or white socks are also highly susceptible to sunburn. The use of a fly scrim will certainly help. The application of sunblock to highly vulnerable areas will also prove effective. You can also add a fly sheet to white horses to guard against the sun. Do your best to keep your horse out of the sun in the afternoon hours when the sun is at its peak.
Horses Need Water and Electrolytes
Every horse needs and deserves fresh cold water along with a source of electrolytes. It is not enough to simply hang a bucket on a pasture fence. Such buckets get extraordinarily hot under the summer sun. Warm water is just as unappealing to horses as it is to human beings. Furthermore, stagnant water will become unhealthy.
It is possible to provide a horse with fresh, cool and clean water only to have the animal turn away. If the horse refuses to drink fresh water, add a salt block. It might also help to mist the hay with salt water. However, if the horse is sweating in excess, provide the animal with water containing electrolytes. These electrolytes will help keep the animal’s body remain in balance. Provide your horse with another source of fresh water in addition to the electrolyte-laden water just in case the animal is uninterested in water with electrolytes. Give your horse the option of both types of water and the animal is certain to drink one for proper hydration.
Give Your Horse a Summertime Haircut
Clipping long horse hair is of the utmost importance, especially for horses saddled by Cushing’s disease, also known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction or PPID for short. Though some hair is necessary to guard against the sun’s wrath and insulate the animal, a lengthy thick coat of hair will hold the heat and make it challenging to maintain the optimal body temperature. Do not make the mistake of clipping the horse’s hair too short out of a fear of the blazing hot summer sun. The horse needs a layer of fairly long hair to protect against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Reduce the Work Pace
If your horse has worked hard throughout the day, do not assume the animal can maintain the pace when the summer months arrive. If it is absolutely necessary to work your horse when it is hot outside, lighten the animal’s workload or at least spread it out across several abbreviated sessions. Slowing down the work is particularly important when the humidity level is elevated. Humid air is that much more difficult for horses to breathe and process.
Cool down your horse in a gradual manner after working the animal in the sun. Provide the animal with water at a high frequency and remove the tack as soon as the work is over. Apply a water-logged sponge across the horse to cool the animal down as quickly as possible.
Understand Your Horse and Recognize the Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke can occur when horses are subjected to excessive heat. If the animal’s body cannot handle the heat, heatstroke is likely when exercising under the hot sun. However, horses can also endure heat stroke when standing in a hot trailer or stall. Pay attention to your horse to get a sense of the animal’s temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate. In order to find your horse’s heart rate, pinpoint the animal’s pulse. You can determine the heart’s beats per minute by counting the beats across 15 seconds and multiplying this number by four. The tabulation of breaths per minute is determined in a similar manner.
Every horse owner should be aware of the common signs of heat stroke. If your horse sweats excessively, is not sweating at all, has an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time or seems lethargic or depressed, there is a good chance the animal is suffering from heat stroke. The horse might also exhibit the following signs of dehydration: insufficient capillary refill, overly-dry mucous membranes an an altered skin turgor. If you are even slightly suspicious your horse has heat stroke, move the animal to a cool space and contact the veterinarian right away.
Adhere to a Schedule
Though the sun will be out in full force, you should still try to maintain the normal schedule during the summer months. Do your part to keep your horse cool, gradually incorporate schedule changes and you will have done your part to prevent colic, sunburn, heat stroke and other health problems.
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Owning a horse is a certainly a romantic idea yet this endeavor takes much more work, time and money than most assume. The sad truth is plenty of first-time horse owners rush into the decision without investing the proper amount of time researching the nuances of horse ownership. Many of these first-time horse owners end up with an array of challenges they were not prepared for. The worst possible result is short-lived horse ownership due to misguided expectations of the ownership experience. Let’s take a look at the most important things prospective horse owners should consider before buying a horse as a pet as suggested by team owner Richard Schibell.
Horses Require Ongoing Exercise and Training
Just like any other pet, horses need ongoing training from a steady, patient and well-educated trainer. It can take upwards of several months to train a horse. The training process has the potential to prove dangerous to the rider as well as the horse. If you have no idea how to ride a horse, do not assume you can figure it out on your own. Reach out to an experienced horse trainer for assistance with training and riding. Otherwise, your horse will not have the proper level of training and amount of exercise. This is precisely why many first-time horse owners opt to spend for a horse that has already passed through training.
Horses are not Cheap to Purchase or Keep
The costs of horse ownership extends beyond the animal’s sale price. Horses require visits with the veterinarian, medication for optimal health, food, boarding, grooming, gridelry and plenty more. Fail to spend the appropriate amount of money on these essentials and your horse will never reach its true potential. Even if you know someone with a stable and the necessary equipment to keep a horse, you will still need at least a few thousand dollars each year to pay for the horse’s food, provide the animal with the appropriate medical care and other essentials. Furthermore, every horse owner should keep a nest egg on the side to cover medical emergencies that might arise down the line.
Consider the Cost of Rider Training
Some would-be horse owners assume they can ride and manage a horse simply because they rode one as a tween/teen at camp or rented a horse for a trail ride in the past. Do not assume you know exactly how to manage a horse in every single context just because you rode a horse years or months ago! It does not matter how well the horse has been trained or if it has the optimal temperament; you will have to spend money for full rider training.
Understanding Horses Takes Effort
There is a common misconception amongst non-horse owners that owning a horse is not much different than owning a large dog. The truth is horses require more understanding, intuition and patience than dogs and other animals. Your horse will not immediately take to you unless you ask for assistance from an experienced horse owner or trainer. Lean on this individual for guidance and you will be able to fast-track a positive and effective working relationship with the horse. Those who take the DIY (do it yourself) route run the risk of never bonding with the horse.
Recognize the Fact That Owning a Horse is not for Everyone
“The moral of this story is horse ownership is not easy” says Richard Schibell. Some people simply lack the financial resources, temperament and patience to be a good horse owner. If you determine owning a horse is something you are interested in and capable of doing the right way, take the time necessary to select the right horse. Do not rush into a purchase that results in a horse that does not match your experience or budget. If you are on the fence as to whether horse ownership is right for you, consider all of the medical care, training, specialized food and other costs necessary to keep an animals of this size. If you have any doubt as to whether you can keep a horse in the proper manner, wait. Hold off on horse ownership until you are truly prepared and the experience will prove mutually beneficial.
Off track thoroughbreds, also known as OTTBs, are challenging to manage when the cold weather arrives. If you do not prepare accordingly, it will be difficult to keep your horse healthy and comfortable. Let’s take a look at the top cold weather concerns for these unique horses.
How cold is too cold for OTTBs?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. Horses are known for their sturdiness when the temperatures dip down low. Horses can even tolerate wet conditions. However, when horses are subjected to cold temperatures and wet weather, problems will arise. In general, OTTBs can handle temperatures at or around the freezing mark when combined with cold rain. This means horses are better off being subjected to a temperature of 15 degrees Fahrenheit along with snow rather than a temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit and cold rain.
A number of factors determine a horse’s ability to tolerate cold weather and rain. The animals’ age, physical condition, health, metabolism, hair coat condition and nutritional status all play a part in the animals’ ability to withstand inclement weather. A mature horse that is healthy and in good condition with a regular winter hair coat and proper diet will be able to tolerate temperatures below the freezing mark along with snow without an issue. However, if the horse’s diet, hair or anything else of importance is altered, the animal will not be able to withstand the colder temperatures. As an example, replacing a winter coat with show-ready hair will significantly compromise the horse’s ability t o endure winter’s wrath. Blanket your horse, keep the animal under lights for hair growth purposes or body clip the animal and you run the risk your filly will not be able to tolerate low temperatures, rain, snow and other inclement weather.
Lower Critical Temperature
The lower critical temperature (LCT) is the temperature at which a horse must use a greater percentage of caloric intake to maintain the proper body temperature. LCT is impacted by age as well as nutrition. Foal LCT is 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius. A young horse’s LCT is negative 11 degrees Celsius or 12 degrees Fahrenheit when fed ad lib. When limit fed, young horses have a LCT of 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Adult horses have an LCT of negative 15 degrees Celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperatures noted above are not set in stone. These are merely guidelines. Each unique horse’s LCT varies based on the animal’s unique body chemistry. Certain horses will require extra energy to maintain their regular body temperature at an ambient temperature higher than other mature horses capable of withstanding significantly colder weather without health issues. This means young horses that are in less than desirable condition should be provided with special care in terms of shelter and sources of warmth.
If your horse shivers, it is not a clear indication the animal is stressed. Horses that shiver might be cold yet such shivering in these animals is not the same as occurs in human beings. Shivering is sometimes indicative of the methods horses use to create more body heat to maintain their regular body temperature. Do not overreact if your horse shivers. Shivering is a clue that your horse is using additional calories to keep its temperature steady. If shivering extends beyond the 4-6 hour mark, it is a sign the animal has cold stress. You must address this problem or it will worsen. Provide the horse with warm water, stall housing, blankets and extra feeding hay to minimize cold stress.
The Importance of Water
Cold stress typically results in a horse reducing its water intake, causing a reduction in performance and a greater chance of gastrointestinal disorders that have the potential to trigger colic. The goal during cold weather should be maintaining and boosting the horse’s water intake. Research shows horses provided with cold and warm water in a simultaneous manner prefer the cooler water. It is interesting to note when offered warm or cold water separately, these animals opt to drink more of the warm water. An effort must be made to provide the horse with lukewarm water in the cold months to hike its water intake. This additional effort will chew up some time and energy yet it has the potential to pay meaningful dividends in the form of improved horse health.
Give your horse forage in an ad lib manner and the animal will prove healthier when the temperatures drop. Forage ferments within the animal’s large intestine. The fermentation process creates a significant amount of heat that maintains the proper body temperature and decreases cold stress level endured amidst inclement weather. Forage products should be kept in front of horses throughout the day when the temperatures decrease. Adding beet pulp to base feeds will also improve the horse’s ability to combat cold stress. The addition of calories when cold weather strikes is essential yet providing such extra calories through forage along with alternative fiber sources rather than grain is optimal as this approach results in the necessary fermentive heat described above.
The Moral of the Story
In summary, an individual horse’s comfort level with low temperatures hinges on the animals’ nutritional status, hair coat, health, body condition and age. Though fully mature and healthy horses sporting a thick winter coat will be able to withstand uber-cold temperatures and harsh weather with regular feeding, the same cannot be said of all horses. Those inherently susceptible to cold stress as a result of insufficient nutrition, age or hair coat must be managed in a manner that provides protection against the elements. In some cases, simply adding blankets along with hiking the water and forage intake will make life in the winter that much easier for your horse.
Most people assume horse racing is a business or hobby strictly reserved for the wealthy. There is a common misconception it takes $20,000 or more each month to own a racehorse. This figure is a gross exaggeration of the true cost of racehorse ownership. It costs about $45,000 per year to keep a racehorse training operation running. However, the total cost of raising a racehorse each year ultimately hinges on the trainer’s desires and the location in which the training takes place. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers with RSR owner, Richard Schibell.
The Primary Expenses of Owning a Racehorse
The brunt of the cost of owning a racehorse is the cost of employing a horse trainer. Some horse trainers have day rates in excess of $100. This day rate is comprised of employees, supplies, feed/bedding, vitamins, workers’ compensation insurance premiums and payroll taxes. In terms of employees, trainers have assistants, exercise riders, hot walkers and groomers. Examples of feed and bedding include grain, straw and hay. In terms of supplies, tack, bandages and other sundries are necessary.
The average trainer will claim he or she does not make a substantial amount of money from the day rate. These professionals argue their earnings stem from a portion of the horse’s earnings. This percentage is typically 10 percent of the animal’s earnings. There is no way to determine if these statements are actually true for all trainers. However, one thing is certain: trainers are not breaking the bank with their day rate. Do not shy away from paying a trainer’s day rate as this is not a daily fee that must be paid 365 times a year. Some horse owners even go as far as paying a farm day rate around $25/day so the animal can enjoy much-needed rest and relaxation.
Additional Costs Beyond the Day Rate
Aside from the day rate, there are additional standard monthly expenses of note. As an example, horse owners should budget in about $75 a month for their horse’s dental treatment. Budget another $75 per month for chiropractic work, $90 for the blacksmith and between $200 and $1,500 each month for veterinary care. Those who are a member of a horse racing partnership will also have to cover accounting expenses to boot. Certain racing syndicates will charge a monthly management fee to boot.
The Rest of the Fees
You do not have to pay anything to enter a horse in a race unless that race is considered a stakes race such as the Kentucky Derby. Certain stakes races such as the Breeder’s Cup races, mandate an entry fee of $50,000. The purse of this race is a whopping $2,000,000 so the entry fee is completely justified. Stakes race have purses in the range of a couple hundred thousand dollars so the entry fee is typically about $3,000 or so.
Commissions must also be paid to the trainer and jockey. Do not think of these commissions as fees. Rather, they should be thought of as bonuses subtracted from winning purses. For the most part, winning jockeys and trainers receive about 10% of the winning purse. About 5% is paid for second and third place. Be sure to keep this information readily available when establishing your horse racing business plan so you are not surprised when the winning purse is shown with such deductions.
Accounting costs must also be noted. Horse racing partnerships charge accounting fees along with K1 prep fees at the end of the year. Consider the amount of time required to pay monthly bills and maintain records for tax purposes. Instead of doing all the financial work on your own, it might be better to outsource it to an accountant familiar with the financial aspects of this unique industry.
What is the True Cost of Owning a Thoroughbred Racehorse?
There is no clear answer to this question. However, we can take a look at an example to give readers a sense of the aggregate cost of owning a racehorse. The typical horse spends 10 months at the track with the trainer. Another two months are spent on the farm. Once the costs detailed above are averaged out, it is likely to cost about $45,000 per year to train and care for a racehorse. However, this figure could be significantly less based on your locale’s economy. When in doubt, consult with other local horse owners to get a sense of what it truly costs to own a thoroughbred racehorse.
Securing employment as a horse jockey is difficult. There are only so many horse jockey jobs available. The fact that horse jockeys cannot exceed height or weight limits makes it even more challenging to gain access to this field. The fact that riding a horse day-after-day is physically taxing makes life as a horse jockey even more stressful. Let’s take a closer look at what is required to excel in this line of work outlined by owner Richard Schibell.
What Horse Jockeys Do
Horse jockeys really are professional athletes. The primary difference between horse jockeys and other athletes is that jockeys ride racehorses. These professionals must remain fit, strong and agile even though they are not colliding into 300 pound men at a high rate of speed or attempting to shoot a ball through a hoop 20 feet away. The majority of jockeys are freelancers dependent on horse owners and trainers for employment. The better the jockey’s record, the more work he or she will find. More importantly, the best jockeys earn a cut of the prize in the races in which they either win, place or show.
The typical jockey spends his or her days working with horses as well as trainers. The jockey must be able to establish a rapport with the horse. It takes hours of training to ensure the jockey and horse are in sync. Jockeys are legitimate athletes so they spend a considerable portion of their day in the gym working on their physique to guarantee they meet the weight and height requirements necessary to race.
Requirements for Horse Jockeys
Jockeys do not walk directly into stables and request the opportunity to work. These riders must meet certain requirements and achieve certain milestones prior to being considered for paid work. The United States has few opportunities for prospective jockeys in terms of education and training. Kentucky’s North American Racing Academy is the nation’s sole school for prospective jockeys. This institution provides a two-year program. Only those who have a high school diploma/GED and experience training and riding horses will qualify for this competitive program. However, graduation from the program is not necessary to find work as a jockey.
If you would like to embark on a career as a jockey, you can apply for an apprenticeship license around 16 years of age. However, each state’s unique age requirements for this license are unique. Be sure to check the state’s guidelines before making any sort of commitment or plans so you know exactly what is required. It is interesting to note certain states refuse to grant an apprenticeship license unless the candidate meets the weight and height requirements and proves he or she can keep the proper weight level without sacrificing well-being.
Once the candidate receives the apprenticeship license, the prospective jockey will have to meet specific requirements in accordance with the state. As an example, it might be necessary to put in a specific number of hours laboring in the stables. There are also specific health and racing requirements for apprentice jockeys to boot. Some jockeys are required to pass an exam. Once the apprentice spends enough time in stables and on the track, he or she will be dubbed a “journeyman jockey.”
Jockey Weight and Height
Weight is of the utmost important to jockey success as the horse cannot be bogged down by a heavy rider. Light jockeys have superior control as they do not weigh down the horse. Jockeys adhere to a strict exercise and diet regimen to meet each race’s specific requirements for weight and height. The average jockey weighs in fairly often to determine if eating and exercise habits are sufficient. Jockey weight is ultimately determined by the amount of weight the animal can hold for the race in question. This is why jockey weight tends to fluctuate between races. Jockeys do not learn about weight requirements until three days prior to each race so they tend to eat very little in this period of time in order to meet weight. Some jockeys go as far as wearing several layers of clothing in order to sweat away the extra pounds prior to the big race.
Every jockey slotted to ride in the race must weigh in before entering the starting gates. If the jockey is scheduled to compete in multiple races in a single day, he or she must weigh in multiple times. Though it is acceptable for jockeys to weigh in at or upwards of five pounds above the weight limit, the majority of riders attempt to satisfy the nuanced guidelines of their contracts. The typical racehorse is capable of carrying upwards of 122 pounds. This weight includes the jockey’s equipment in addition to his personal mass.
In terms of height, there are no specific requirements to work as a jockey. The typical jockey is short simply because taller people have a larger frame that carries more mass. Extra mass is detrimental to the horse’s ability to reach and maintain a high rate of speed. Most jockeys stand between 4’10” and 5’6”, weighing in at 108 to 118 pounds.
A career as a professional jockey would be a dream come true for the typical horse fan. Can you imagine the thrill of outracing the pack, crossing the finish line and being showered with praise? Life does not get much better than that for horse enthusiasts. The question is how, exactly, to go about pursuing a career as a professional jockey. Though making a living as a horse jockey might seem like a pipe dream, it is possible if you have the will. As is often said, if there is a will, there is a way. Team owner Richard Schibell shares some key info below.
Becoming a Professional Jockey in the United States
It is a bit more challenging to carve out a successful career as a professional jockey in the United States as our country has merely one professional jockey school. This institution is the North American Racing Academy. Though working as a professional jockey will prove expensive, competitive and challenging in just about every regard, success is possible with the right work ethic, talent and determination. Above all, you must maintain a positive attitude.
Enroll in the North American Racing Academy and you will learn the rules and techniques of professional racing in addition to horse care, nutrition and fitness. This Academy even touches on the technology used in horse training and racing. Unfortunately, there are only so many seats available at this institution so there is no guarantee of admission. The application process for admission is extremely lengthy, challenging and hyper-competitive. A mere 12 horse riders are admitted to the Academy each year. However, there is another path to becoming a jockey: riding at a young age. Those introduced to horses and horse racing in their youth are provided with early informal training for working as a jockey or in another role in the equestrian industry.
Some of the best jockeys in the world were introduced to horses at an early age. Ideally, prospective jockeys will learn the basics of horse riding in their youth. Ask elite jockeys about their background and you will find most were interested in horse racing as a child, tween and teen. Plenty of these jockeys learned horse riding techniques at a young age. Once the age of 16 is reached, the jockey-in-training can either join a trainer or attend an apprentice school. This is also the legal age at which one can begin riding in competitive races.
Apprentice jockeys regularly ride at least 20 barrier trial races prior to being allowed to ride in formal races. Once the 4-year apprenticeship is complete, the apprentice will qualify as a senior jockey, creating opportunities to establish relationships with horse trainers as well as horses. In some cases, horse owners pay senior jockeys to ensure they will specifically ride his or her horses.
The Physical Requirements to Become a Professional Jockey
Professional jockeys must meet specific physical criteria to be truly competitive. The best jockeys are short, slight in stature and weigh very little. The weight criteria for the best riders hinges on the type of racing he or she would like to pursue, be it jumps or flat racing. In the United States, flat racing jockeys typically weigh about 110 pounds. Those who participate in jumps typically weigh around 135 pounds. Those who weigh more might find it difficult to find work. In the United States, weight requirements are usually about three-quarters of a pound lighter than those in Australia or Europe. In order to remain light, jockeys must abide by a strict diet and exercise, especially during racing season. The challenge extends beyond maintaining a reasonable level of weight. Though jockeys are extremely skinny, they still must be able to control massive horses traveling at 40 miles per hour.
What About Height?
Weight is much more important than height for horse jockeys. However, height often dictates weight so taller jockeys might find it difficult to make weight for races. In general, horse jockeys tend to be 5’3” to 5’5” in height. This is not to say taller jockeys will prove unsuccessful as some of the industry’s best riders were between 5’7” and 5’10”.
Both Men and Women can be Professional Jockeys
Working as a professional jockey is certainly demanding yet there is no reason why women cannot compete. Do not let the fact that men have dominated this industry stop you from pursuing a career as a professional jockey! A considerable number of women have obtained work as horse jockeys since the 1990s. The North American Racing Academy has reported higher female freshman class enrollment figures for several years. However, merely 16 percent of all licensed jockeys in the nation are women. Of the top 100 jockeys, merely two are female.
Life as a Professional Jockey
Working as a jockey is certainly challenging yet it is also quite rewarding. Jockeys typically ride three unique races per day during the off season. In the summer, a normal day might consist of a dozen races per day. The typical jockey works 40-50 hours per week yet once you account for the time it takes to care for horses and muck out their stalls, the work week has the potential to reach 60+ hours. The average jockey’s day begins around five in the morning. Most jockeys hit the hay around 11 PM.
In terms of compensation, jockeys are classified as self-employed. These professionals are nominated by horse trainers to compete in specific races. The jockey’s riding fee must be paid even if the jockey does not win, place or show. If the jockey finishes “in the money”, he or she will receive a specific percentage of purse winnings.
Nothing beats the excitement of racing a horse in the Kentucky Derby. This race is called the most exciting two minutes in sports for good reason: horses glide past spectators, pounding their hooves along the track while jockeys yell out commands to accelerate. These amazing animals take it to the max in the home stretch, giving their all to cross the finish line first. This is precisely why true sports fans like Richard Schibell understand horse racing provides an adrenaline kick unlike any other form of competition.
Preparing a Horse for the Kentucky Derby
The process of preparing a horse for a race in the Kentucky Derby is easier said than done. Plenty of casual sports fans are unaware of just how young the colts competing in this race are. In order to qualify to race in the Kentucky Derby, your thoroughbred has to be three years of age. The challenge lies in preparing a horse of this age for such a competitive race. After all, colts racing in the Kentucky Derby typically have merely a year or possibly even less of racing experience.
Your young horse’s lack of experience makes horse racing somewhat dangerous for the jockeys as well as the horse. The danger is heightened if training is not completed in the proper manner. The question begs: how, exactly, should a horse trainer prepare a horse to compete in a race like the Kentucky Derby? We have the answers.
How to Properly Raise a Race Horse
The first challenge in training a race horse is to get the animal comfortable with handling and being tacked up. The horse must become accustomed to the saddle weight, girth tightening, the bit’s feel in the mouth and the rider’s weight. This is the time for your young horse to start loading into the gates, remaining still as the gate shuts and breaking away from the gate. This learning process will take some time for the horse as well as the trainer.
It is important to view your horse as you would a human being in that both are unique with distinct personalities and motivations. No single training program will suffice for every single horse. A certain colt might require more of a gentle touch while others might need more of a firm approach rife with challenges.
As your horse matures, do your best to analyze its behavior. Pay attention to the horse’s mannerisms to get a sense of what the animal is picking up. This is your opportunity to ensure the animal does not pick up bad habits. It is inexcusable for the animal to be spooked when at the track. Your horse must be alert and ready to work.
The Second and Third Years
Colts are ready to hit the race track once they reach two or three years in age. Most trainers get their colt or filly out onto the track between the hours of 6 and 10 in the morning with the assistance of an exercise rider. This is the horse’s opportunity to engage in a routine daily gallop or jog. It is up to the trainer to ultimately determine the length the horse will run as well as the speed the animal should be worked at.
Sessions designed to bring horses to a rapid gallop and test its fitness and speed are known as breezes or works. Such workouts are often timed by the official track clocker. In fact, the results of these workouts can be published in track programs as well as industry newspapers. The purpose of publishing this information is to empower prospective buyers and those placing wagers to determine if the horse has been performing up to par before the race.
The level of work and speed the rider demands of the horse should be shaped by the nuances of upcoming races. As an example, if you are planning on putting your horse in the Kentucky Derby that is 1.25 miles in length, you should work the animal up to this distance in training sessions.
Aside from timing and conditioning, it is also important for horses to become accustomed to racing against one another. After all, these animals will be in close proximity on the race track. Consider training your horse with others on the track in the mornings to increase their comfort level. Such training gives the horses the opportunity to bump into one another, have the dirt kicked up to their face and get a sense of what it is like to be guided to the rail by a jockey.
Entering the Kentucky Derby
If your horse turns three-years-old after January 1, the animal is eligible to race in the Kentucky Derby. However, in order for the horse to gain entry into the Kentucky Derby, it must be entered in several qualifying races known as the Road to the Kentucky Derby. If your horse emerges as a top qualifier in this series, you will earn a spot at the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Horses need treatment after exercising just like human athletes. Trainers and jockeys willing to take a couple simple measures following a ride will enhance the animal’s soundness immediately after the workout and also across posterity. Horses have powerful upper body muscles that streamline the legs. This body type is quite efficient for racing yet there is no protection for the ligaments, tendons and joints from the knee downward. These important structures gradually weaken as the animal trains and races. In fact, studies show digital flexor tendons are pushed to the brink as horses gallop. This is precisely why horses are so vulnerable to injury.
Richard Schibell suggests that you “warm up properly, remain mindful of footing and closely monitor your horse’s workload to reduce the chances of injury”. The push to prevent leg injuries does not stop after dismounting; care after races and training sessions will also make a considerable difference in soundness post-race and across posterity. Post-workout care is all about observation and subsequent action. Caring for your equine legs after strenuous activity also requires a comprehensive understanding of this portion of the body.
Horse anatomy is fairly uniform yet there are some nuances to each horse’s legs. Equine limbs are shaped by everything from the animal’s unique conformation to life experiences. These legs really are not that different from human legs with scars, unique contouring, etc. Pay attention to the idiosyncrasies of your horse’s legs. If you notice anything seems awry after a race or workout, it is an indication the animal requires assistance. The best horse owners and trainers go as far as evaluating the horse’s legs to determine what constitutes “normal” texture and shape for that unique animal. This way, you will be able to spot new bumps and other alterations after riding.
There is no reason to be intimidated by a leg inspection. Your horse will not mind this evaluation as long as you maintain a gentle touch. Direct the horse to an area with ample light. Move your hand along the animal’s limbs. Get a sense of the shape of the fetlocks, hocks and knees. Apply light pressure so you can feel the anatomy below the skin and learn the natural contour of the animal’s legs. Lightly pinch your fingers as you move them down the back of the horse’s legs to familiarize yourself with the tendons. Pinpoint the splint bones on the sides of the cannon bone. Move your hand along the splint bones until they taper at the leg. Move your fingers along the coronary band to get a feel of the hoof’s firmness and the limb merge softness.
Search for Abnormalities
As you move your hands along the animal’s legs, pause if you notice any abnormalities such as joint softness, ruffled hair or a lump in an area that was once smooth. If the animal is sound, such oddities are likely an indication of a prior injury that has since healed. Just be sure to point out these abnormalities during your next vet visit. If you suspect you might forget about the exact location of the abnormality, write it down or take a picture so you can assess progress (or regress) over time. Ideally, you will perform this analysis of your horse’s legs every single day as a component of the grooming routine.
It will also help to get into the habit of feeling the animal’s digital pulses. Arteries move down along the sides of the sesamoid bones to the outside portion of the fetlock joint. This area can be felt beneath the fingertips as a structure similar to a cord that slightly rolls when moving fingers over the skin. Add light pressure to get a sense of the pulse. Assess each limb.
The Post-ride Inspection
Once you have unsaddled your horse and walked along side him until his respiratory rate is normal, it is time to inspect his legs. Adhere to the same routine as detailed above to evaluate the contour and structure of the animal’s legs. If necessary, stop to poke or pinch as necessary. If you spot anything abnormal, be it an alteration in texture, joint swelling or a thick area beneath the tendon, it is cause for concern. Even a temperature difference in one area such as a warm spot along the coronary band is a sign of trouble. Analyze the animal’s digital pulses to boot. If there is inflammation in a limb, it can strengthen the pulse.
It is important to note some alterations along equine legs are perfectly natural. As an example, an animal using splint boots in the summer will almost certainly have warm legs upon post-workout examination. If the animal’s heart rate is still elevated after exercise, the digital pulses will be that much more prominent. Do not perform the assessment until the animal has cooled down.
If you notice any abnormalities in your post-workout equine examination, observe the animal as it walks/jogs. If the animal appears stiff or limps, contact the veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinarians prefer analyzing injuries in the acute phase so a treatment plan can be tailored without delay. Alternatively, if the horse seems sound even though there is a limb abnormality, do not assume there is nothing to worry about. A minor alteration might be an indication a major problem will manifest in due time. In fact, studies prove plenty of the injuries that appear suddenly are really the result of several micro-traumas. Minor stresses on a joint or tendon across several months are not provided with the opportunity to heal until they break. In some cases, the buildup of fluid and/or heat stemming from a lengthy ride are the sole clues of these injuries.
If you notice anything suspicious, take a look at the area again after an hour passes. If the abnormality is still present, reach out to the veterinarian. The veterinarian might advise you to try a couple things to facilitate the recovery process. Let’s take a look at some effective therapies to ameliorate the challenge of equine recovery.
Therapies for Horses
Specific measures must be taken to protect horse legs following a workout. Thankfully, most horse trainers are somewhat familiar with the majority of these therapies. Some horse owners and trainers have performed each of the therapies in the past. What most people do not understand is how these therapies benefit the animal. The overarching aim of these therapies is to ramp up the body’s recovery after exercising, helping to restore the animal’s body to its pre-workout status as quickly as possible. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at some specific therapies and how you can maximize their impact on your horse.
Applying wraps to your horse’s legs after exercising is a long-held tradition. Though this therapeutic approach might not seem effective, it is actually quite helpful. These wraps do not support ligaments or tendons in the lower limb or decrease their load structures. Rather, wraps compress tissues so fluid does not pool. If fluid accumulates in the animal’s leg after exercising, inflammatory enzymes compile. Tissues also stretch, creating the potential for damage. Wrapping the animal’s leg closes the areas between cells in which fluid can accumulate, ultimately making it that much easier for the leg to return to its pre-exercise status in a timely manner. The only issue with wraps is there is the potential for them to be misapplied. If improperly applied, the wraps have the potential to prove worse than skipping the wraps altogether. Those who lack experience or confidence in adding a standing bandage should request assistance from their veterinarian. The veterinarian will explain the nuances of applying the bandage, determine if you are capable of wrapping and ensure your horse is as healthy as possible.
Do not be intimidated by wrapping! You will be able to master the wrapping process with some assistance from your veterinarian and consistence practice. It will also help to be selective. As an example, applying standing bandages to a horse in the middle of the summer will warm the tissue and spur that many more problems. When in doubt, abide by common sense. If you decide to add wraps after a workout, they should remain in place for eight hours or less. At most, wraps should remain in place for a single night. Keep in mind wrapping guards against stocking up the animal’s leg. Wrapping does not treat specific swelling spurred by trauma. If you notice a tendon welt or anything else of significance after a workout, do not apply the wraps. Call the veterinarian right away for prompt professional assistance.
College and professional athletes do not make a beeline to the showers after a strenuous game or practice. Rather, these athletes head to the ice bath. Countless studies prove ice therapy decreases the chances of injury and hastens recovery after physical activity. Ask any athlete about the impact of ice baths and you will be inundated with praise for this unique therapy method. Ice baths really do ameliorate the challenges of physical recovery and help athletes bounce back to full health that much quicker. The same holds true for horses.
Icing does several things to the body. For one, ice is analgesic. This means ice decreases pain caused by physical activity. More importantly, ice facilitates vasoconstriction. When a working horse exercises, capillaries move to the muscles, ligaments and tendons to stimulate the flow of blood. This open flow of blood is necessary at the peak of activity yet when physical action is taken, the additional blood flow continues, possibly for upwards of hours, bringing unnecessary fluid with the enzymes and mediators linked to inflammation. The last thing you want is for your horse’s leg tissue to be inflamed for an extensive period of time. Furthermore, if fluids are allowed to pool, they will stretch out the tissues, reducing their elasticity as time progresses. Tissue elasticity is one-and-done, meaning you cannot get it back. If tissue elasticity is lost, the horse will be that much more likely to suffer stocking up, meaning an accumulation of unnecessary fluid.
Icing really does help get the animal’s baseline circulation back to normal. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to force your horse to rest in an ice tub after exercising. Spraying the horse with cool water is the best way to apply cold therapy to the animal’s limbs. However, the application of cold therapy might not prove as effective as other forms of therapy. Research indicates the ideal temperature for cryotherapy is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The water from your tap is likely to be much warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit so extra cooling is necessary. Take a look at the market and you will find all sorts of cooling wraps and boots available for purchase. However, some horse trainers go as far as training these animals to stand in massive buckets of ice. Ice the limbs for 20 minutes following a demanding workout to ensure the horse is provided with ample time to recuperate. If the animal had any swelling or hot spots discovered during the post-workout leg inspection, take a look again after applying the ice. If the swelling or hot spots do not dissipate, reach out to the veterinarian for assistance.
Turnout therapy might prove the be the easiest form of therapy to apply. Physical movement really does help minimize heat and fluid after an arduous workout. Turnout brings the animal’s circulation back to the level enjoyed prior to exercise. Furthermore, turnout also helps prevent stocking up. This is precisely why it is so important to walk your horse during the cooling-out period. The best racehorses in the world are placed on a hot walker for upwards of an entire workout after a demanding workout. However, there is no need for a hot walker. The horse can do it on his own if provided with ample space.
If possible, turn the animal out in a diminutive paddock or pasture after the post-exercise examination and leg care regimen. The horse will instinctually walk form the pile of hay to the water trough. The benefits of this consistent motion are not limited to the legs; the animal is provided with the opportunity to move all of the large muscle groups. If the animal is fatigued and not moving, he will be better served outdoors rather than confined to a stall. Let the horse out for as long as possible. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain as long as the horse is provided with a safe space to roam.
Liniments and Poultices
Liniments and poultices are essential to post-workout leg care. These therapeutic tools are in just about every barn. Liniments and poultices restore limb functionality to the pre-exercise condition in a couple ways. Liniments function according to the principle of leg cooling. Liniments are either menthol or alcohol-based, meaning they evaporate rapidly, pulling the heat from the limb tissues spurred from physical activity. Limb heat is normal as the horse exercises. This heat stems from a spike in the area’s circulation as well as the release of energy. Heat is helpful amidst activity as it ensures the structure is pliable. However, there is the potential for residual heat to injure tissues after exercise. This heat is also tied to inflammation processes with the mediators and enzymes noted above. Heat will eventually decrease on its own yet if this process is hastened, there is a good chance additional damage can be prevented.
Poultices are not that much different from liniments as they have cooling ingredients. However, poultices are designed to draw fluids out from the areas between cells to minimize inflammation and ward off swelling. In some cases, it makes sense to wrap over a poultice for improved post-race leg care. Though no specific poultice or liniment product is ideal for all horses, most people have a favorite that they enjoy using. When in doubt, research these products to find out what, exactly, is in them. Determine the logic behind adding the ingredients in question to the poultice or liniment before applying it to your horse. Above all, it is imperative you adhere to the manufacturer’s directions. The last thing you should do is use a DIY (do it yourself) concoction provided by a friend or other supposed equine expert. You can easily perform your own research on the web to pinpoint the ideal liniments and poultices for your horse.
Your Horse’s Leg Health and Condition Ultimately Hinges on You
When in doubt, apply common sense when caring for your horse. It does not matter if your horse jumps, spins, runs or moves in another way; caring for this animal’s legs after exercise is essential to all types of physical activity. Perform thorough post-race inspections, apply the therapies detailed above and your post-exercise limb care will keep your horse in optimal shape.