While most of Britain will be opening their stockings and cracking into oversized tins of chocolates, as many as 6,000 stable staff in Britain will give up their Christmas day mornings to look after Britain’s racehorses.
With Boxing Day being the busiest day in the sport’s calendar – eight tracks across the country will be racing – staff will be treating Christmas day like a normal working day in order to ensure all their preparations are complete.
Whilst the idea of giving up Christmas to go to work could not sound less appealing to many of the general public, a love of horses and the desire to care for them means that people like Lisa Kozak, an integral part of Oliver Sherwood‘s yard, is happy to give up her Christmas day.
“Horses don’t do Christmas. They have to be fed and they have to be exercised, you can’t just shut the door and ‘we’ll see you in a week’,” she says. “It’s a life, not a job. Everybody is a big family and that’s what makes racing so nice. We don’t do it for recognition, we do it because we love the horses.”
Oliver adds: “Christmas time is no different to if it’s the middle of summer and the staff will arrive before Santa has been. Dedication is what I value the most. You have to be dedicated to work with horses or any other animal.”
To get you in the Christmas spirit, here’s an equestrian take on the “12 Days of Christmas” — complete with…
The typical stable staff Christmas Day routine
5:30am – Turn off alarm and wake up.
6:30am – Arrive at the yard and clean out the horses’ stable. Ready the horses for exercise.
7:30am – Ride out first group of horses.
8:30am – Cup of tea and a slice of toast.
9:00am – Prepare second group of horses and ride out.
10:15am – Wash down horses.
10:30am – Groom horses; brush coats and plait manes.
11:15am – Prepare equipment for next day’s racing.
12:00pm – First feed for horses who have exercised.
12:30pm – Head home before potentially returning in the evening for second round of feeding.