Do you have a horse that you need to prepare for a race? Or are you curious about how horses are prepared for upcoming races? Maybe you want to place a bet and want to know more about the entire process? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!
Preparing a horse for a race is an event in itself and can take days to do. Whether it’s favorites to win or the underdog, every horse must be prepped properly. Not only does it help increase their chances of winning, but it ensures that horses are appropriately cared for. If you’ve never done this before or never heard of the process, it can seem confusing and overwhelming, leaving many people in a state of panic.
Well, no more! Today we are here with a clear guide on how to prepare a horse for a race. Keep reading to find out all you need to know!
How to prepare a horse for a race?
Below is a list of ways that you can prepare your horse for a race. We recommend using a combination of these to best prepare your horse for its upcoming race, but the choice is yours! If you do encounter any issues or have some concerns, be sure to speak to a professional. The health of your horse must come first!
Now, let’s get into that list!
1. Daily grooming
Not only does daily grooming ensure that your horse’s coat is neat and clean, but it allows you to bond with your racehorse. The two of you need to be one and have a close bond for the best results! Taking the time to groom your horse will allow them to feel comfortable and trust you more and more each day.
It also helps remove dirt and any loose hair from their mane. While grooming, be sure to clean the hoofs. You want your horse to feel clean and comfortable; this will help them race better as it’s one less thing that could distract them! Be sure to monitor your horse’s eyes too, and ensure they are clean at all times.
There’s plenty of tutorials online showing you how to groom your horse correctly, or you can speak to your vet if you want further advice!
2. Bathe beforehand
A few days before the race, bathe your horse. Experts recommend doing this a few days beforehand rather than the night before or the day of the race. This allows your horse to be cleaned within plenty of time. It can also help de-stress the horse before a race, allowing them to be as calm as possible.
When bathing your horse, be sure to brush its tail and mane. If needed, give it a little trim. If you can’t get your horse to stay still while you do this, a vet or groomer might have more luck, and you should contact them. Doing this a few days before the race also means the horse has time to calm down. In some cases, bathing and grooming can be stressful for horses, so you want to allow plenty of time for them to relax afterward. A stressed horse won’t run as well!
3. Pay attention to their nutrition
For your horse to be race-ready, they need a balanced diet! Speak to your vet for more information about this if you aren’t sure, but taking care of their nutrition means that your horse will be fit and healthy and able to race at its best!
A balanced and nutritional diet also prevents your horse from being underweight or overweight, both of which can seriously impact their ability to race well. Your vet can provide nutrition plans if needed and recommend meals if you are finding this difficult.
You can purchase specially formulated competition feeds designed to provide your horse with sustained energy and help with muscle rebuilding and repair after workouts and training sessions. It’s worth taking a look at these in the days and weeks building up to a race.
Your horse will want to get some practice before the race too! Head to a local track or practice in your field to ensure that their muscles are moving as they should. A mixture of galloping, trotting, and canter will keep your horse moving without exhausting themselves too much before the race.
You don’t want them turning up tired, do you? Be mindful of any mud or dirt while practicing too, you don’t want to bathe your horse again! Speak to a professional about devising a training program to build up to races if you aren’t too sure. Remember to listen to your horse; if they are unwell or tired, don’t force them to train, you still need to prioritize their health and needs.
5. Practice the travel
If you are traveling for the race, it might be worth practicing loading your horse into its box or van. If this is something your horse usually struggles with, then it’s worth practicing to avoid any unnecessary tension the night before or on the day of the race.
Lots of positive reinforcement and taking your time here is the best approach. You don’t want to upset your horse, so go at their speed and try to remove as much anxiety from the trip as possible. Once loaded, take a short drive before letting your horse out or returning home. Shorter journeys like this can help your horse feel more comfortable and relaxed, exactly what you want before a race! This step might not be essential for every horse, but an important part of preparation if you know your horse isn’t the best traveler.
And just like that, we have come to the end of our horse racing journey today! As you can see, there are a few ways to prepare a horse for a race. Whether you use one or a few of these methods, you are sure to prepare your horse for an upcoming race better. Remember that this is guidance only, and you should consult a professional should you need further assistance, and for additional information about horse racing check out TVG.com.