Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world with equestrian events having taken place in some form or another for thousands of years. Organised horse racing developed through the centuries to become the sport it is today and it is often referred to as the sport of Kings owing to the great interest taken by monarchs such as King Charles II.The sport was truly established in the late 17th century as British owners began to breed their own mares with stallions from all over the world. Some of the most famous horses in history emerged during this period including Eclipse and Herod.
Courses such as Epsom and Newmarket were already in existence at this point but in the years that followed, major venues started to emerge right across the UK. Perhaps the most notable of these is Aintree which first opened its doors in 1829.Disregarding harness racing, which is still popular in some parts of the world, there are two main types of horse racing today. These are National Hunt, where the runners are required to jump over fences and flat, which is a straight race with no such obstacles involved. Horses run on a track which is typically oval in shape and the distance of each race is measured in furlongs which are equivalent to one eighth of a mile.Of the major horse races to take place over the course of the calendar year, the Epsom Derby and the Aintree Grand National are probably the most famous of all.
The Derby first took place on Epsom Downs in 1780 and remains the most eagerly awaited event for some race goers. It is a flat race for three year olds and throughout its history, some of the most well known jockeys have triumphed here. Lester Piggott won the race on no fewer than nine occasions. Other famous riders such as Willie Carson and Pat Eddery have also triumphed at Epsom more than once.As for the Grand National, it produced the World`s best loved horse in the 1970s when Red Rum became the first to win the race on three occasions. The Aintree course is a truly gruelling test for any horse and to win it just once is one of the most difficult achievements in the sport. Red Rum`s exploits therefore were truly remarkable and alongside with the jockeys and trainer associated with him, he became a true national hero.
These days, horse racing is a global phenomenon and although it grew from relatively humble beginnings, it has always been one of the world`s most popular sports. From an armchair spectator`s viewpoint, there has been a boom in televised events in recent years which has led to a major increase for the betting fraternity at the same time.
In the meantime, a day at the races is a popular activity with all of the main courses having excellent facilities and entertainment in some cases after the races themselves. As such, it is always worth looking out for Groupon vouchers and taking time to enjoy horse racing for yourself.
Top racehorses are developed from superior breeding stock, with a family history of soundness combined with natural speed and a keen desire to drive toward the finish. Racehorses burst from the gate with blinding power and speed. Conditioning, proper feeding techniques and rest and preparation, along with training toward peak performance are all part and parcel to developing a winning racehorse. Conditioning is not training, although good training is part of any overall conditioning program.
Conditioning an athlete and preparing them for the ultimate event is nothing short of science. Racehorses are athletes and in proper condition, they are supreme athletes. In average or poor condition, a racehorse may endure far worse fates than the loss of a race. Total breakdown or death can be imminent. Conditioning is the number one priority for properly preparing an athlete, be it human or equine, for the ultimate event. A well-conditioned athlete is prepared for intense training sessions with quality feed, proper joint and health care, rest and muscle development. Conditioning is not about speed; it is about enduring the training process with minimal aggravation to overall health. Active muscles need rest and strength to respond to intense training sessions of speed and endurance.
Fuel for training, racing, muscle repair and development and general health and well being is an integral part of any conditioning program. The overall condition of an athlete has a direct path to food. Good food can make or break a training program. Athletes, particularly racehorses, need fuel to power their massive bodies and to respond to the trainer`s or jockey`s demands. Without such fuel, in proper proportions and high in nutrient value, the fuel is simply sustaining life. Provide a sweet feed as supplement to high quality alfalfa hay. During peak training periods, two quarts in the morning and four to six quarts in the evening of a 14% protein sweet feed should be supplemented with 24-26 pounds of high quality alfalfa hay per feeding.
Rest from training enables recovery of fatigued muscles and joints. Rest is not sedentary stall time, unless there is a serious injury requiring strict convalescence. A highly tuned athlete cannot go from intense training intervals to complete inactivity without negative results. Rest during training should include moderate exercise, mental stimulation and slight changes in diet.
Training success achieved with intense interval workouts, endurance, rest and recovery techniques and speed training are among the practices employed by many trainers. One of the most common race horse training aids used by top trainers is interval training and taper toward peak for race day. Tried and tested training methods are being replaced by super science for maximum performance. Tapering for peak performance on race day is as much an individual process as the horse itself. The plan for taper depends on the race, expected track conditions, previous race history and the training methods used in preparation. Some horses respond best with minimal rest and continued training up to just days before a race; yet, others respond with long tapers allowing the body more recovery for peak race day performance.
Knowing your riding level will help you determine what age horses you should be looking at along with how well trained they should be. In general, if you are inexperienced you need an older more experienced horse. One of the trainer’s jobs will be helping determine what level rider you are. And that is really important to know in advance because it has a major impact in determining which horses you should look at. It can be hard to define the level of rider, but I like to think of it like this.
The first riding level is a novice rider or a “real beginner”. If you’re a novice rider, you’re still learning how to sit balanced at the walk, trot and canter. You’re not real comfortable in the trot and canter yet, but you’re learning how to ride them. Somebody who is this novice or “green” a rider generally is going to be looking for an older school master type horse. Maybe a horse 9 or 10 years old, or older. An older horse that is really confident in what it knows and has the patience help you learn how to walk, trot, canter and get that balanced seat. As opposed to a young horse that has no patience for somebody loosing their balance, wiggling around, accidentally jerking on the reins or things like that.
The next level is an intermediate rider. Riders at this level are pretty secure at the walk, trot and canter. They can stay with the horse, not interfere too much with the horse. And they’re starting to learn how to coordinate their aids; to use their legs and their hands independently. They may be beginning to do some lateral work some leg yield type work. Maybe a little bit of connecting the horse to the bit. This rider doesn’t need to have such a school master horse. They might be able to take a really well broke horse. But now they have enough balance that they won’t bother the horse with their seat. So they can take a horse that’s maybe eight years old. A horse that’s got it’s full training. It’s got some years of experience. But it still maybe entering the prime of its show career.
The next level is the strong intermediate rider. If you’re at this level, you’ve got your walk, trot, canter. You’ve got your lateral work. You’ve got your independent aids. Now you’re ready for a horse that’s been broke to ride and maybe you can teach the horse all the upper level stuff. You have independent use of your seat, your hands, your aids and you can school the horse through.
You’re probably a rider that just doesn’t know how to start a horse because that’s a whole different level of expertise. That sort of person might be looking at a horse that’s five or six years old depending on how much training the horse has.Another level is the professional minded amateur. This is an amateur rider that rides like a professional. They have ridden lots of horses. They have started their own horses. They’re going to be looking at ads, and maybe looking for a horse that hasn’t even been ridden yet. They’re the type that might look at two and three year old horses knowing that they’re going to start the horse themselves and train the horse in the discipline that they’re interested in.That gives an idea of some of the levels of riding. The better you are, the less professional help you might need. But in general any of these people would be better off having a trainer help them find that right horse.