Training young racehorses: how do top yards start their yearlings?

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • If you’ve ever wondered how top yards start training young racehorses in preparation for their racing careers, here is a behind the scenes look at the daily routine at Godolphin in Newmarket…

    “The daily routine of a yearling at pre-training at this stage involves time in the paddock, time on the horse walker, and time ridden,” says Kate Grimwade, pre-training manager at Godolphin, a global thoroughbred breeding and horseracing team founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid A’l Maktoum.

    “We put them on the walker tacked up at this stage — it’s a really nice way of warming a horse up without having a rider on their back,” Kate says.

    “So to start with they’ll be on the walker for about 45 minutes and then ridden for about 15 minutes.

    “And then gradually over a couple of weeks that will increase to being on the horse walker for 30 minutes, and ridden for 30 minutes, and we try and keep it at that level for the first two months, so that they’re not having to carry a heavy weight on their back for too long.”

    Once horses have been sat on in their stables for a few days, they graduate into the lunge pits. They’re paired up, in case one is reluctant to go forward, so that the other one can take a lead.

    The horses only spend around 10 minutes in the pit, for the first couple of days, and then once the riders are happy with them there, they then go into the barn and then next into the trotting rings.

    “Horses are herd animals so they tend to like to be together,” adds Kate. “All the time we’re just trying to do things to keep the horses as happy and as quiet as possible.

    “Everyday while training young racehorses you’re trying to take really gentle, steady steps with them, but also you don’t want them getting bored. You also have to challenge them with something new everyday.”

    For all the latest racing news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

    You may like...