View Full Version : My first works at the track

Oct. 6, 2007, 12:10 AM
This morning I did my first works at the race track. I've been galloping for more than 2 years, but never done works. I'm a pretty big girl.. 5'11 on a tall day, and 135 pounds. My trainer wanted me to start, and I guess no day like today. I was terrified. I was so worried I was going to mess up, or fall off, or just something. My first horse was a 2 year old filly that I've done almost everything with. I rode her at the farm, did her first few rides at the track, took her out of the gate for the first time, and did her first work today, which was also my first work. No big deal. Only went 3/8ths of a mile, but when you forget to breathe, 3/8ths seems like a heck of a long time. My legs were dying, and I work out 4 days a week, including 2 spinning classes a week. By my 4th work I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it, but man, I've got a lot of body to curl into a little ball. The track photographer took a couple pictures.

Here's as we're just coming up to the wire on the 4th set. I need to figure out how to get my feet more under me instead of back, but at the same time, still staying low. Shorter stirrups? More leg strenth? What am I missing?

Here's as we were pulling up after I beat our jockey by about a half a length. Now my feet are back under me where I want them to be:

A couple other random shots.. the 1st one's my favorite of the whole bunch:

And finally, the aftermath taken with the cell phone camera. Ginormous egg welt bruise forming on left lower shin, another semi large lumped up bruise on right lower shin, bruises just under both knees, and of course, scars from previous rubs.. Caution GRAPHIC:

I feel like my lower body has been run over with a bus. Back is slightly sore, but not bad. I'm just thankful I have the most patient trainer in the world who can just laugh at my weeble like @ss bouncing around up there as I try to figure out what the heck I'm doing.

Anyway, suggestions would be great. I'm pretty comfortable galloping, but this working thing is a whole new beast. Just had to share.

PS - I bought all the pictures from the track photographer that I'm showing proofs of, so I'm not stealing.

Oct. 6, 2007, 05:49 AM
My goodness, you're hard on yourself, Katie!
You look really good to me, aside from a little nervous in the first shot (and I bet that had to do with not breathing! Taking in/expelling air = a good thing!) I've been on older geldings at the track that I owned pieces of but never galloped in works...how do you nail the time the trainer wants? Friends have told me they count poles and at some point it's so natural they aren't thinking about it.
Which track is this? Looks like somewhere in California but I can't place it.

Oct. 6, 2007, 10:21 AM
Katie, your length of leg will prevent you from ever sitting like you like. You have long hip to knee and lower leg (beautiful for dressage) but once you relax a little you will stop folding your knees into the withers. You look fine and seem to be getting the most out of your horse as you should. My only observation from watching similarly long legged exercise riders is that they balance on the tips of their toes. Have fun out there, you look like you love it and have good balance even on a smaller horse. :winkgrin:

Oct. 6, 2007, 11:00 AM
I would either change nothing, or perhaps lengthen your stirrups a hole to two so you don't feel like your knees are touching your nose. You look great, the horse needs a noseband however!

Oct. 6, 2007, 11:31 AM
You look good for your first time, and I agree that with the length of your leg it's going to be almost impossible to "fold" up and look like a jockey... keeping the ball of your foot in the stirrup may help some, that is where your weight should be... although on a two year old I can relate to wanting a little more foot in the irons.

Oct. 6, 2007, 07:54 PM
I just popped onto the racing site to see what people were saying about todays accidents, and couldn't help but read yours. I don't have much of a clue about racing, other than I like to watch it (I event), but when I saw your pictures I just thought, Wow, great pics. Yeah your legs are definitely "model" length, and I too thought, "she'd be great at dressage I bet". But mostly just wanted to say, "good for you, you look great."

Oct. 6, 2007, 09:03 PM
I just popped onto the racing site to see what people were saying about todays accidents, and couldn't help but read yours. I don't have much of a clue about racing, other than I like to watch it (I event), but when I saw your pictures I just thought, Wow, great pics. Yeah your legs are definitely "model" length, and I too thought, "she'd be great at dressage I bet". But mostly just wanted to say, "good for you, you look great."

Me too, just popping in here and don't know much about racing..but as another tall girl who is all leg, I think you look great!!

Oct. 7, 2007, 04:58 AM
I can't believe you've been galloping 2 yrs. and haven't even had an 'unplanned' work by now. You must be great at holding a tough one!

I thought your pics looked fantastic!

Oct. 7, 2007, 10:41 AM
I think your photos look great. You have a lovely position and appear to be a very good rider. I think you're being overly hard on yourself. I don't think you need to raise your irons at all, though. You might actually want to lower them a bit. As a reference, here is a photo of someone your height who also has a leggy build (the guy on the outside). I think he is riding a bit longer than you are, but I don't think he is a better rider, he just may be more comfortable. They're just galloping in the photo, but they are about to breeze (my super fancy auto focus camera just decided to focus on a pole instead of the horses for the entire breeze, so no pics :mad:). Just to be clear, I'm referencing the guy on the outside, the guy on the inside is riding really long and I have no idea how he does it b/c I would be sitting on my butt after three strides.


The pic is from 2 weeks ago and the horse on the outside is my 2yo Buffalo Robe, about to breeze in company for the first time at the Evangeline Downs Training Center. :D

Oct. 7, 2007, 05:32 PM
Yikes! Mabe you want to invest in some half chaps? I found they saved my legs. I used to get nasty blisters and bruises on the inside of my leg by my knees and it hurt like crazy. Before that happens to you get some chaps!

Oct. 7, 2007, 08:47 PM
As far as leg wear.... try a pair of "leggings", you wear them over your socks, and under your jeans...also a pair of half or full chaps will help!

Oct. 7, 2007, 09:20 PM
It looks like she IS wearing half chaps to me???

Oct. 7, 2007, 09:36 PM
the boots are going up to her knees

Oct. 8, 2007, 06:27 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'm going to put my stirrups down 2 holes the next time we work horses to see if that helps.

Debra is right. I do wear half chaps when I gallop. I still just get nasty bruises. Don't know what's up with that. I don't get the bruises when I gallop, only when I work. Maybe letting the stirrups down a few holes will solve that problem too.

TBCollector - Those pictures were taken at Vallejo, where we spent most of the summer. We go back and forth from Golden Gate to Vallejo, then trailer into Bay Meadows for races, and then of course just trailer in for the fair circuit.

I'll definitely have to up date everyone not this Saturday, but next, when I go back to work more horses on how it goes. Again, thanks for the encouragement and suggestions!!!

Oct. 9, 2007, 10:50 PM
Hi Katie

I'm also a tall rider with a long hip to knee ratio. I think once you relax and get more comfortable with your new job description, you'll find it easier to get your feet under you, and lower your center of gravity a bit more. You are a good rider, so I've no doubt you'll soon experience this "lock down". It does seem to help also - as far as balance and power - to keep the stirrups on the balls of the feet instead of "home". I think you'll find it stresses your back and legs less too. Keep us updated!


Oct. 12, 2007, 08:43 AM
Gallop girl, Just took a look at your photo's not bad if I do say so myself. Here are a couple things you could try. Being a retired jockey, I too have many old scars on my knees and shins. To avoid those rub marks invest in a good pair of leggins. Talk to one of the jocks, they will know what I mean. Leggins are like socks with out feet. They are elasticized to give your calves extra support, they are worn under your pants over your socks. They will keep you from rubbing sores on your legs.

Next, move your stirrup more to the ball of your foot, and instead of pinching with your knees, spread your legs. Women have hips men do not, if we as women pinch at the knees, our legs get back behind us causing our bodys and legs to rock back and forth.

By widening your legs (think of popping the knees out) you will be able to get down nice and low (once you are fit of course) and leave the stirrup length right where it is. Dropping your stirrups will cause your legs to rock back and forth more.

The pictures were really very nice, and I'd work horses with you any day. Also remember on short backed short necked horses like the one you were working, it is harder to get down, becuase every time the horse is in that moment of suspension (when all four feet are off the ground) their neck comes right up into your face. But by popping your knees out you will be able to get down nice and low.

Best of luck and I'd love to see more photos.