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A Colt’s Road to the Winner’s Circle: Horse Racing Training Tips

A Colt’s Road to the Winner’s Circle: Horse Racing Training Tips

The finest thoroughbred horses in the world garner international acclaim along with millions in winnings and endorsements, but the path to the sport’s biggest stage is long and challenging. A race-ready horse represents an immense investment of time and resources, as colts only become eligible to compete at top races such as the Preakness and Belmont Stakes when they are considered three years old. This means that their racing talents must be developed early in life and proper training plays a large part in unlocking the potential of a promising young horse.

First Year

The initial phase of preparing a horse for the racing track involves getting the horse familiar with the experience of being handled and “tacked up,” or prepared for racing with a saddle, girth and bit. For safety’s sake, horses should never be ridden before they are accustomed to being tacked up. Once these riding basics are mastered, training can move to race-specific actions such as loading into the starting gate and breaking from the gate with explosion.

Horses are unique in that they all have different personalities and motivations, and this must be taken into account during the training process. One colt may require gentle encouragement while another might yield better results with a more stringent approach.

Colts should be monitored carefully to help trainers learn more about their individual behaviors and minimize bad habits. Race-ready horses must be alert, poised and responsive at all times, and even a primal response such as “spooking” signifies that a horse needs further coaching before a debut at the track.

Through Year Two

The next step in preparing a horse for show time is to get it used to running defined distances at high speed. Just like human athletes, horses must be worked into shape in order to perform at their highest levels, and horses that are being molded into race form for the first time can take up to two years to achieve race-ready fitness.

Once a horse gains enough fitness and experience to complete a track circuit, it will need to maintain its condition by jogging at least a mile daily. This routine can be intensified by alternating jogs with gallops, or even galloping for a full predetermined distance as will be required on race day. A typical training routine involves five lengthy gallops, a day of “work,” or simulated racing conditions and a day of rest on the seventh day. This period of rest is extremely important, as it allows the horse’s muscles to recover, heal and grow.

Third Year Preparations

As a colt nears the age of eligibility to compete with the top horses in the world, the intensity of training reaches its peak. Trainers will often raise their horses at or just after dawn, getting them out on the track with an exercise jockey for routine work.

Horses must spend time racing with other horses prior to stepping on to a track to get used to being bumped by other horses while running as well as flying dirt and debris from surrounding racers. During these sessions, the horse is timed for speed and endurance, and these figures can be published in industry publications to allow potential investors and bettors get an idea of the horse’s performance capacity.

In the days leading up to a race, the amount of work given to a horse is directly related to the events on its schedule. For instance, a trainer looking to eventually enter a horse in the Kentucky Derby, a 1 ¼ sprint, will work their colts at this distance in preparation. Once a colt is considered three years old on January 1st of a new year, it can be entered in qualifying races to earn entry into some of the sport’s biggest spectacles.

If you’ve ever wondered how you could get into the horse racing business, besides first investing in getting a thoroughbred steed, the steps outlined above should assist you in getting your horse into tip top racing shape. Furthermore for all you avid US horse racing fanatics, visit https://www.mywinners.com/  and get the latest news in the horse racing space and if you happen to be feeling lucky, you could also place a few bets – you just never know when lady luck might smile upon you. 

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