Pauline Harkin: Horses that ‘run better fresh’ ring alarm bells *H&H VIP*

  • There are many schools of thought about the recovery time one should give a horse after a race. I like to give them at least two to three days off in which they are turned out in the field and allowed to rest up, both mentally and physically.

    It is so important to replace the muscle glycogen stores that will have been depleted during the race, and the only way to do this is by rest and extra electrolytes.

    You often hear it being said that a horse will “run better fresh” and its results deterioate as it progresses through the season. This would ring alarm bells, as it indicates that the horse is worked too hard at home and, as the season goes on, his performance dips due to the repletion of his glycogen stores.

    More is less when training, and you can do more damage by overtraining than by undertraining.

    The period of time between races is also a topic of much debate. It very much depends on the horse. I remember Doctor Kingsley winning the men’s open at Paxford on Easter Monday, and as he was still bouncing, we took him to Guilsborough six days later where he won and beat the track record.

    We normally like to give them two weeks in between races, but some horses, particularly youngsters, need more and some less. Popaway had three weeks in between her last race, which was too long as she was almost unmanageable at home and was overkeen in her race on Sunday.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 13 April 2017