What has happened to 2017?! The first few months passed at a sensible rate but all of a sudden we are almost at the end of it! With our thoughts and plans well and truly focused on the early months of 2017 it is easy to overlook that fact that something called Christmas has to be fitted in first, yet in 2 weeks the “big day” will be over! Time is such a crazy thing – we are just 14 weeks away from Cheltenham and Spring beckoning – two very cheery thoughts indeed; with some great racing lined up in the coming weeks, The Festival, is already attracting lots of comment. Can Don Cossack take another Gold Cup or will it be a victory for Thistlecrack, will Annie Power and Faugheen go head-to-head in the Champion Hurdle, will Willie Mullins dominate again – and will he pip Paul Nicholls in 2017? So many questions!
Much has been made of the loss of Vautour and Simonsig but the loss of any horse is just as great to connections whatever the circumstances; the racing world makes much of the famous names whilst the lesser horses just seem to make up statistics but surely this is fundamentally wrong, after all it is not a horse’s fault that he is not a superstar. There is a similar attitude in the world of ex-racehorses; focus tends to be well-known horses that are successful on the competition circuit of another discipline but yet there are so many leading fulfilling lives and providing great pleasure at low-level competition, on the hunting field or as hacks. They still demonstrate the versatility of the ex-racehorse yet they do not get the recognition and appreciation they deserve.
So with the sermon over, what has been happening at EMT? Life in our corner of England continues at a fast pace which is not a bad thing; it keeps us motivated, fresh, innovative and forward-thinking. We are never ones to stand still and continually look to broaden our horizons as there is so much we want to achieve.
Rehabilitation is deemed to be the necessary therapy and exercise to restore a horse to fitness following injury or ailment but it really encompasses a range of training techniques to produce strong, fit horses – something we are in great demand for s it’s just as well it is an aspect of our work which we love doing! .
So to this end and due to popular demand we have finally started running some lunge and long-reining clinics. Why you may ask – anyone can lunge a horse. Actually, not they cannot! Proper skills are lacking in these areas; ok a horse may well be trotting around in a circle but it is how he is executing that circle which is of importance or on the long lines is he actually straight or more like a banana? The lack of these skills is seeing so much use of training aids but for the wrong reasons and all too often the wrong aid is used for the individual horse anyway. Many a yard which provide a rehabilitation service have wonderful facilities with all the latest equipment to help with leg and back injuries which is great to see but we confess to being alarmed at seeing horses on walkers and treadmills to improve their fitness when their basic musculature needs addressing first; as we said in our last blog, back issues go hand in glove with foreleg problems If the racing world would start to adopt what is termed “straightness training” then more horses would run better and be less prone to injury. Sadly we see too much treatment of the symptoms instead of treatment of the cause. With latest research suggesting a link with hindgut ulcer issues with problems in the back it is even more imperative that root causes are identified and eliminated instead of being masked.
Double lunge work which progresses to long reining remains the best way to address musculoskeletal issues.
We remain of the opinion that some of the best equipment to help with general well-being and rehabilitation is that provided by FMBS Therapy (www.fmbs.co.uk). With its pre-set programmes the Activo-Med range is so easy to use although individual programmes to meet the needs of the individual can be set up quite easily. Rugs, boots, leg wraps and lasers can all be found in our tack-room. More about why we favour this equipment can be found at http://www.equinetraining.co.uk/latest-news/192-why-we-use-fmbs-therapy-systems.
The retraining of racehorses will always remain an integral part of our lives and what we do; clearly others continue to think the same way as the yard once again is over-run with horses out of training. We have the most delightful Kodiac filly in at the moment; no more than 14.2hh she is a tough, feisty little lady but oh so much fun. Her success on the racecourse is testament to “size does not matter”.
Horses must be allowed to let off steam before being expected to concentrate on their work.
She is going to be a cracking little riding horse who will be able to turn her hooves to anything.
Another gem of a horse currently with us is a Nayef gelding; he is a lovely moving horse with much presence so should find no problem holding his own in the dressage arena or show ring in due course. He is very quickly finding his balance and responding very well to his retraining.
Our own ranks have been swelled again with the addition of Berkeley Street to our numbers. His talent didn’t manifest on the racecourse so we are hoping that it emerges in the dressage arena as he is certainly built for the job, but if not he is certainly a show ring prospect. Good job we are sponsored by a saddlery company with so many different saddles required!
Our retraining activities have once again resulted in us being called upon to write a regular retraining feature. Magazines and the internet are filled with such material but there still remains mis-information out there and with the ex-racehorse still proving to be very popular, there are plenty of people seeking help and practical, no-nonsense advice.
Everything has worked out perfectly this year with our rehoming programme; even Jamaica Grande, known for all the wrong reasons due the severe aggression he demonstrated, is happily in a new home following a very successful programme to address his behaviour. With our capacity so limited until we move, it is very frustrating as every day we have calls asking for horses. Of course alongside the rehoming comes the additional work of keeping a check on the them all; however with our policy of not rehoming to anyone with whom we do not have a connection with, whether directly or indirectly through “friend of a friend” helps to ensure that we have secured first-class, permanent homes.
With the advent of the shorter days it has meant that our longer trips around the country have had to be curtailed as we will not leave the yard under cover of darkness in the mornings; it is important that all the horses are properly checked in natural, not artificial light; it’s all too easy for them to knock themselves in the night despite thick beds and huge banks. So it won’t really be until the end of January until we can properly hit the road again.
However this has meant that with being just 3 months we have been able to turn our attention to fundraising activities for the next Greatwood Charity Raceday. We always try to bring some different items to the auction and next year’s event will be no exception. However our lips are sealed so you will just have to wait bit longer to see what is on offer!
Please support this great charity if you can
Another plus side to the long, dark nights – and it’s been a long time coming – is that we have found the time to make it into the 21st century so are feeling somewhat accomplished in that we have finally got to grips with technology and able to do what the rest of society has been doing for years! Although having said that, much of Windows 10 remains a mystery!
So just what is on the cards for 2017? Well we are hoping that more of our plans and ideas come to fruition but the first major task of the year is to change the wagon. A successful trip was paid to Range Rover a couple of months ago so fingers crossed a stroll into Lehel will prove to be as equally successful! Until next time……
Over and Out.
Fred and Rowena
Equine Management & Training
Inc Racehorse Rehoming – A Life After Racing