All in TRAINING

First Time Starters

    Ask two dozen trainers how they prepare horses for their first career start and you’ll get 24 different answers. Variety, as California trainer Peter Miller points out, may be a good thing: “If it was all the same, it would be quite boring.”

Stress Fractures - Are they linked to track surfaces?

Stress fractures not only lead to training interruptions but if they are not identified early and managed appropriately they can be associated with subsequent catastrophic fractures. Stress fractures of the humerus, tibia, ilium and cannon bone (aka third metacarpal bone or McIII) are most common. Stress fractures are a late stage on a pathway of stress-related bone injury.  

Work Riders

Trainers around the world have widely varying ideas on training methods, feeding regimes and riding tactics, and these opinions can even differ between neighbouring professionals using the same facilities. But one thing that handlers will unanimously agree upon is the vital importance of a competent team of work riders. As South Africa’s James Maree from the Work Riders Development Programme puts it, "I know and all trainers know that if you get to the track in the morning and you haven’t got a decent work rider, you may as well go home. Without that, you just can’t do anything."

The effects of morning exercise on muscle response

Timing is everything. Nowhere is this more relevant than when preparing an elite equine athlete for a race. Thoroughbred trainers are critically aware of the importance of fine-tuning the feeding and exercise regimes of their charges in the months, weeks and days before a big event. Timing is also critical for the smooth functioning of a horses musculoskeletal system for optimal performance. 

Do horses sense fear?

Racehorses are athletes performing at the peak of their physical capabilities, with their strength and fitness carefully monitored and researched. However less consideration is given to the psychological factors that may affect their performance, with fear being a major influence.

Nearly three decades after his plan to open a  racetrack in Ocala, Florida failed to materialize, Domenic Martelli's Plan B is still flourishing. Martelli, a New Jersey real estate maven, thought legislation to approve a racetrack in Ocala was imminent in the mid '80's. He didn't wait for that approval, instead purchasing a 704-acre parcel on U.S. Highway 40 near the now late Fred Hooper's Farm, and building a one-mile racetrack with a seven-furlong turf course, a three-furlong training track and 26 barns with 776 stalls, each barn featuring several paddocks for turnouts.

He named his facility Classic Mile and planned to have a mixed-meet of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horses. He was sure racing would be approved. "It looked like a piece of cake," Martelli told Dave Goldman in his October 12, 2006 story in the Daily Racing Form. "Boy, was I wrong."

Photos by Sandra Madison