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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Always Dreaming and the draw reins

I cringe every time I see the video of Always Dreaming lunging about on the track, sometimes way overflexed with nose on chest - probably an old video, hopefully he's going better now, but I have to wonder if anybody from that barn thought to try the chambon first.  It's all elastic, adjustable, runs from the poll, through the bit rings and to the girth - so out of the rider's hands.

Go slow and set it loosely to make sure it doesn't freak the horse out, first just walk around the barn, then take some time jogging before going on to gallop.  In our experience, most horses find it a calming influence and those we've tried it on showed immediate improvement, eventually to the point of not needing it at all in a fairly short time.  The chambon is so rare on the American racetrack that we kind of hide ours as a "secret weapon". - here's Always Dreaming overflexed in draw reins

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

OWNERS - do you know where your day rate money goes? (Updated)

This is an article we originally wrote many years ago, and try to keep updated every few years, detailing the costs of owning a racehorse in training at the track.

We just updated the numbers through 2015, read the full text at

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Where do trainers get all the stuff they need for the stable?

I haven't written anything lately because I've been busy working at the track - in the stable as groom, hotwalker, barn foreman, and frankly - equipment manager.  There is so much stuff you need to run a racing stable, and it's used hard so some things wear out amazingly fast. A university student just asked me where we get all our "stuff" as part of her marketing study, and here's what I said, probably more than she wanted to know, and I could elaborate a lot more!

"Hi Raquel!  You specified “blankets, saddle pads, bandages, hoods” – by hoods I assume you mean blinkers.  We buy most of our stable supplies from unless we need something that’s so heavy the shipping cost will be too high. 
For heavy things like rakes, forks, wheelbarrows, fans: we go to Home Depot or Lowes. 
For heavy things like buckets of poultice, powdered or liquid supplements, we go to the local tack shop – most racetracks have a vendor for these items on site or near the stable area.  Sometimes it’s the feed company located on the racetrack property or close by.

challenge is the stuff that race trainers need to be color specific to match the stable colors and/or logo – we need stall webbings in the stable colors which usually have to be ordered and they are very heavy.  The saddle pads with logo have to be specially ordered.  Usually the on-track tack shop can get these things at the best price." 
I would just add that getting saddle pads with logo and signage is fairly challenging.  The people around who provide these services specific to the horse and racing industry seem to be few and far between.   I'd like recommendations! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Good article from New South Wales - It's educational and interesting to read racing coverage from Australia, showing how truly global our sport is and how much we have in common with racing around the world.  Some of the Aussie racing expressions are quite unique!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Some horses are born to be at the track.

Great story about a retired thoroughbred racehorse who is most suited to sticking around the racetrack rather than starting a new career.  Most thoroughbreds do like to have a job.  Most of them don't like hanging around the pasture 24-7.  Read more >>

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to train your young horse without setbacks due to injury

Denny Emerson shared this article on Facebook. It's about training for endurance competition but also very much applies to starting young throughbreds for racing or bringing back older thoroughbreds after a long layoff. A valuable read for all trainers:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The job of a thoroughbred trainer is this.

Occasionally the frog of a horse's hoof will shed, exposing healthy but sensitive tissue underneath. If it happens a day or two before a race, the sensitivity can be enough to interfere with a horse's race performance.

Listen to what Jere Smith Jr. did when this happened to a horse he had entered to run, as he remembers the situation from many years ago.

Hear this interview at and please read the comments after, which follow up some questions that came out of this interview.