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  1. #1
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    Jan. 16, 2007
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    Default Turn out for actively racing horses

    I have NO knowledge of the racing world. I have "friended" Union Rags on fb because I am a fan of Matz. On his page there are several pictures of him turned out in a good sized grass paddock. Even one of him laying down looking relaxed and happy. Is this normal practice for a racehorse that is actively racing at his level?



  2. #2
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    Jan. 23, 2004
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    Most racetracks do not have any sort of turnout facilities but Union Rags is trained out of Fairhill Training Center- http://www.fairhilltrainingcenter.com/ and they do have paddocks for turnout.

    I have known people who train their horses off the farm and ship in to race because they want to be able to allow the horse some turnout.

    It's not typical but always makes me happy to see.



  3. #3
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    Jan. 16, 2007
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    Thanks. I always assumed they were all handgrazed to keep them from acting silly & hurting themselves in turnout. It made me happy to see him in a grass field being able to be a horse for a bit.



  4. #4
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    Apr. 4, 2006
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    Many racehorses in Europe are turned out daily. They also get real breaks. Not just forced time off due to injury. Makes for happier healthy horses. And sometimes they even have group turnout while in training. Obviously not older colts but bitchy mares but most are quite happy with buddies just like normal horses.

    Terri
    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

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  5. #5
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    Many trainers train "off the farm" or at training facilities, so turnout is an option. Not every horse is suited to being turned out in a paddock, but all can benefit from some free time in a roundpen. I have trained off the farm,and galloped at a training facility and every horse got turnout on Sundays, or after they raced or worked. Youngsters got turned out in the afternoons, or sometimes all night. Some tracks will let you have roundpens, many won't
    Quote Originally Posted by The Saddle View Post
    Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.



  6. #6
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    Sep. 16, 2003
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    Flint Hill, Virginia
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    I worked for a ('chase) trainer in Kentucky (championship level, mind you, not nags) who NEVER kept his horses IN! They were ALWAYS out. I adopted his methods and credit it to much of my (smurf-level) success.
    Hall of Fame (flat and jumps) trainer Jonathan Sheppard turns most/all of his out at least a little, and most of the jumps trainers have had/know of horses that are trained 'out of the field' (whether like my Kentucky connection, literally, or figuratively - with the horse out all afternoon, or all day, or all night).
    * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.



  7. #7
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    Default

    I would say the overwhelming majority of trainers would turn their horses out at least a little bit if that were an option. It's hard to come by at the track however. I used to take my horses to the farm for three or four days after they ran to turn them out if they were stabled at the track.



  8. #8
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    Oct. 26, 2005
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    Deep South
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    Every horse we get at the track and bring home for retraining gets one month of 24/7 turnout before we restart them. And I can tell you - turnout can soothe the nastiest of beasts. I realize the element of risk when you have a six figure animal and want to keep it safe, but to me living in a 12x12 box is one of the worst things mentally that these horses have to endure.
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  9. #9
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    Apr. 23, 2012
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    I've thankfully worked most from training centers or farms and we turned out a lot. I worked TBs for awhile then went to Standardbreds and was blown away by the amount of turnout our racing stock got.

    I'm taking a little break from racing now, but when I was racing my horses all jogged minimum of 5-7 miles on non training/race days and got at least 4-8 hours of turnout. I put 2-3 mares together and tried to pair up geldings otherwise they got individual turnout. I would also jog 10 miles or so on trails to freshen them up once a month or so, found this worked great especially with rank mares. I would also ride my pacers to keep them happy, trotters rarely soured but pacers would get sour and I found riding them 2x a week and taking them on trails kept the really happy.

    I have found that the more natural you keep a horse the better and longer they race. I have had zero colics, minimal ulcers and a lot of happy horses.



  10. #10
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    Jul. 10, 2006
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    Years ago I worked for Sheppard and we turned out racing horses in groups in large pastures. At another farm in the area we turned out racing horses one at a time with a babysitter. And no we didn't bandage them, we just turned them out and let them be horses.

    They'd come in all muddy and one of the grooms at Sheppard's used to say "here, Suzanne, hold this horse while I sweep him off" and take a broom to the horse. Eclipse award winners, three year olds, they all got the broom.

    An older couple in that area who knew Mikey Smithwick told me that when he started out he kept his horses in a field with an outshed and when it was time to feed he tied them up and fed them all in the outshed.

    When you think about it, there's nothing better for a horse's lungs and mind than to be out as much as possible.

    There was a lot of good stuff to learn in those barns. The base they put on their flat horses was the same foundation they gave their steeplechase horses and it really served them well.



  11. #11
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    Aug. 26, 2006
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    North Central Florida
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    Quote Originally Posted by moonriverfarm View Post
    I realize the element of risk when you have a six figure animal and want to keep it safe, but to me living in a 12x12 box is one of the worst things mentally that these horses have to endure.
    Agree with this 100%. Horses can injure themselves even in a padded stall. Happier horses are usually better performing horses.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEPowell View Post
    Years ago I worked for Sheppard and we turned out racing horses in groups in large pastures. At another farm in the area we turned out racing horses one at a time with a babysitter. And no we didn't bandage them, we just turned them out and let them be horses.
    There's apparently a picture floating around somewhere of a 2yo Storm Cat turned out with Flatterer at Sheppard's place back in the 80's. Talk about ying and yang!

    Here is picture of Denman and Kauto Star frollicking in the pasture at Paul Nicholl's place. Picture was taken a couple of years ago at the height of their racing careers.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
    There's apparently a picture floating around somewhere of a 2yo Storm Cat turned out with Flatterer at Sheppard's place back in the 80's. Talk about ying and yang!

    Here is picture of Denman and Kauto Star frollicking in the pasture at Paul Nicholl's place. Picture was taken a couple of years ago at the height of their racing careers.
    Yes! That's exactly the type of thing we used to stand back and watch after we turned them out.



  14. #14
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    Jun. 22, 2001
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    When I had Lad with me at Belmont I had to bargain hard to be able to turn him out in a round pen with sand for 3 hours. A LOT of the folks there wanted to use the pens that were there.

    By my estimation I'd say the 4 sand pens had roughly 16-20 different horses in them per day. Like Laurie said I know that trainers at the track were inclined to turn out if it was possible.

    And when I worked at Fair Hill for Matz and a few others, we had paddocks and round pens on grass available. Horses would go out for 1-2 hours give or take. Some would be out longer. But everyone who went out was wrapped with polos and sometimes bell boots as well to protect them.

    ~Emily
    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries



  15. #15
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    When my now OTTB was running, he was stabled at Belmont. Had a good 3yo year, but his other owners, lead by the managing partner, whined about wanting him run again and again. Much to their chagrin, and the trainer's insistence, they allowed a short break before his 4yo year, but improved breaks in VA before his 5 yo and 6 yo years. With a longer stretch off, he made 75% as much in 3 races as a 6 yo, then in 10 races as a 3 yo.

    And when retired, he was a handful stabled in 2 show (1 realistically, 1 NOT) facilities with limited turn out, and is enormously improved now on full turn out with a lovely run-in and pasture pal.

    A friend of mine tried to get a couple of his horses in at Fair Hill last month, but told me there was no room, and a waiting list.
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by foxhavenfarm View Post
    Agree with this 100%. Horses can injure themselves even in a padded stall. Happier horses are usually better performing horses.
    And the more that being turned out is habit and natural for them, the less likely they will get hurt. Horses that are stalled all the time and then turned out can be truly crazy.
    Laurie
    Finding, preparing, showing and training young hunters, in hand and performance.
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  17. #17
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    Sep. 8, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by lauriep View Post
    And the more that being turned out is habit and natural for them, the less likely they will get hurt. Horses that are stalled all the time and then turned out can be truly crazy.
    Kinda like this? I posted this link on Off Course a few weeks ago but your comment reminded me of it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4n8jRK7_C0




  18. #18
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    Jan. 16, 2007
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    Default

    It has been so refreshing to read all these posts. I have never even been to a track, so when I said I have NO knowledge of racehorses I meant it. I honestly thought horses racing at that level would only be handwalked and/or just turned out in a small roundpen. I completely agree that the more turn out a horse gets, the better it is.



  19. #19
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    Dec. 31, 2007
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    I have trainers that will rotate their track horses to/from my farm for some R&R. I pick them up the day after they race - turn them out for a few days/weeks and take them back to train/race again. The horses are wonderfully happy and deserve the break on the farm.



  20. #20
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    Jul. 20, 2004
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    Virginia
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    Default

    Here's a NYT blog on Dressage at Saratoga (yep, right there on the track.) It mentions how a number of top t-breds have benefited from dressage-style training.
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