A day in the life of a jumps horse
When it comes to training a top-class jumps horse, the rules are simple yet precise. According to Charlie Longsdon, an Oxfordshire-based racehorse trainer with an impressive 100 winners under his belt, hurdlers and steeplechasers need discipline, exercise and a strong routine to keep them at their best.
Most trainers agree that a 5.30am alarm call will help their horses get the most out of the day. “They’re up early, fed and then once all the stable staff have arrived all the horses get mucked out.” explains Rebecca Menzies, travelling head lass to top jumps trainer Ferdy Murphy, who’s based in North Yorkshire.
Rebecca, who writes a daily blog on www.premierracingpartnerships.com, adds: “Then at 7.30am the first group of horses are ridden out. We call this ‘first lot’. Most yards would have 3 ‘lots’ every morning."
“When the horses are in full training, they will be exercised everyday," says Charlie Longsdon. "Most days they’ll spend time cantering on the gallops, depending on what part of their training program they are in. Then twice a week they will do fast work, which involves going side by side up the gallop, making them really stretch themselves to their top speed."
At his stables near Chipping Norton, Charlie has an all-weather half-mile gallops circuit which can withstand the worst excesses of the elements and, crucially, doesn’t freeze.
While every jumps horse is different, Longsdon says on average his horses will undergo jumps training once a week, known as ‘schooling’, although younger ones might do more.
“The older ones with more experience might do less,” He explains. “But they’ll soon tell us if something isn’t right. When they’re on good form, they look great, eat well and they’re full of energy.”
After a lunch time feed at 12.30pm, the stable staff break for a few hours before returning at 4pm, to finish off for the day. The horses are groomed, mucked out and fed.
“The horses are usually rugged up with warmer attire by 6pm,” says Rebecca. “Then, later in the evening, one of us will pop round and check their rugs, depending on the weather.”
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