Have you ever wondered exactly what after your horse races?
It was fabulous to catch up with Lucy Keegan-Attard, Assistant Trainer / Office Manager at Jason Attard Racing where we asked this exact question. Thoroughbred Events Australia’s very first horse Cinderconi just won at Goulburn and it was perfect timing to ask Lucy – exactly what happens to Cinderconi after she races while we are all celebrating?
Lucy was able to run us through the process.
After the Race
“Firstly, straight after the race the strapper will meet the horse & jockey back in the enclosure, clipping the lead back to the bridle and making it safe for the jockey to unsaddle the horse.
Should the horse be lucky enough to have won (which we did) or achieved a minor placing, the strapper will bring the horse into their allocated place stall for unsaddling.
If the horse wins, then the strapper will keep the horse in the enclosure so that the winning owners and race sponsors have photos taken with the winning sash being held across the front of the horse.
Following a win, the strapper is then accompanied by a qualified swabbing attendant who will stay with them whilst they carry out the usual duties for post race.
The horse is taken back to it’s allocated stall where it’s bridle and any other items worn for the race are removed, their head collar and bit will be put on ready for it to be hosed off.
The horse will then be thoroughly hosed off in the wash bay. This is the ideal time for the strapper to check the horse for it’s recovery (how quickly the breathing comes back to a normal rate, if deemed necessary heart rate can be taken also by placing the back of your hand against the horses girth & counting heart beats for 15 seconds and then multiplying by 4 to get a 60 second rate). The horse is also checked for any cuts or abrasions that may have been sustained in the barriers and in the race itself.
Once the horse is washed and the strapper is happy, a small drink of water is offered followed by hand walking for up to 45 minutes depending on how the horse is recovering and how hot the weather is. The walking is done with intervals of stopping back in the stall to offer a drink.
If the horse has won the race or has been requested to provide a post race urine sample all of the above is done in the presence of the swabbing attendant using their water bucket, scraper and a special swab box for the horse to urinate in.
Whistling is a good tool to encourage the horse to urinate and you will often hear stable hands whistling at horses whenever they pass urine in order to familiarise them with the command.
The swab staff will catch an amount of urine in a pan on a long handle & then prepare it to be sent to the laboratory for testing.
Once the horse has recovered sufficiently well and at least 45 minutes has passed since it raced it is ready to be transported home. Rugs, travel boots and overreach boots will be put on before the horse is loaded onto the truck or trailer.
When the horse arrives back at home it will be checked again & if deemed necessary sometimes a pain killer / anti-inflammitory may be administered for recovery. Stable bandages and rugs will be applied as per usual routine and the horse is then bedded down for the night with plenty of clean fresh water, hay and an evening feed.”
Lucy further goes on to say: “We are very lucky that we are able to put our horses out in a medium sized grass yard for at least a day after each run. This is done in morning stables after the horse has been checked, it’s feed level recorded and temperature taken.
A routine trot up is carried out on our drive way and if there is any cause for concern our vet will come and assess the trot up as well.
The horse will then be offered a roll in the sand roll before being turned out for the day.
Offering a roll is a great way of seeing how the horse has come through their race initially as you get to know what each horse does each time it has a roll and how fresh they are feeling, most of our horses bounce around in the roll & will roll quite vigorously!
After having a full day off in a grass yard our horses will then the next day have a swim and a walk on the horse walker followed by another day out on the grass. Depending on how hard a run they had they may even have a couple of days walking and swimming or just cantering on our track at home before they resume their work at the race track.
Usually gallops start again a week after the race, again depending on the horse and how it performed and it’s programme going forward. They are all different and no two horses follow the exact same programme.”
You can see how much work goes into every step of the way to ensure the horse’s welfare is of paramount concern. A happy horse is a happy race horse!!!
Lucy concluded: “I would love to wish everyone involved in ownership luck and more than anything, happy racing!”
We cannot thank Lucy enough for her time and knowledgeable insight. Every part of ownership should be enjoyed and owners need to appreciate just how much time and love goes into getting your horse to, from and after the track.
See you at the track