As we roll through Summer it is always hoped that there will be more time to do things outside of work but that is just wishful thinking as it has never happened yet and it not going to happen this year either! Where has the time gone! It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were awaiting the arrival of Spring let alone Summer and here we are already a month past the longest day. Anyway enough depressing comment and on to the positives.
So much has happened this year already that it’s hard to recall but one important engagement was the Greatwood Charity Day. Clients of ours, Horsepower Racing kindly donated racetrack spins in two of their hyper-cars to the live auction and then added more money to the fundraising kitty with a 6.5K bid on a holiday. Cheltenham Tuesday saw us in attendance for the RoR parade [little did we know it would be the last time we would see Kauto] and then we spent a wonderful afternoon in the company of Liz Prowting, Hannah Bishop, Brendan Powell and Richard Phillips amongst others sat on the balcony of the Brightwell Pavillion on what was the warmest and sunniest day of the week.
Newmarket has beckoned many times in the past few months with several visits to Darley Rehoming to introduce Manager, Jo Brisland to numerous products we considered would be advantageous to their retraining namely saddles from Harry Dabbs, Thinline saddle pads, the Activo-Med Combi rug from FMBs Therapy and latterly the Equiami training aid. We love to promote the products we endorse, both for the benefit of the company involved and for the benefit of the horses. And always enjoyable to pop into the racing school which we are doing with increased frequency as we are now responsible for re-homing the horses from the CRS Unit as well as some from the BRS itself. And of course no visit to Newmarket is complete without swinging into one of our favourite watering holes, the Bedford Lodge!
Whilst we seem to have spent a lot of time on the road all our excursions have to be fitted around our primary activities, those of training, retraining and rehabilitation as well as our work with the RoR (Retraining of Racehorses) which latterly has included a re-write of its website.
The yard has remained full to capacity and continues to run on what has now become standard – a waiting list! It is frustrating having to turn horses away but there are only so many hours in a day.
One aspect of our work which we love is the variety and having a mix of horses being prepped to go into training, retraining the ex-racehorses and providing a rehabilitation service. We see a lot of horses with kissing spine ranging from very mild cases which can be treated with medication and managed with physiotherapy to those where ISLD or resection has been carried out. Over the past 4 months we have been working with a very interesting KS case; there were complications post-surgery resulting in the horse’s back opening up and then he incurred a check ligament injury. The horse which left us at the end of June bore no resemblance to the one which arrived back in March.
We are great believers in the benefits of long-reining work as this offers so much flexibility particularly when needing to correct gait abnormalities and biomechanical faults. Trainers of course do not have the time nor suitably skilled staff but a few weeks of proper long rein exercise would work wonders with so many horse especially in improving their core strength and stride length.
One little horse who has benefitted from just this – and one which we do not have to maintain confidentiality about – is Sultan’s Dancer (Heidi) owned by Liz Prowting. Racing Manager, Hannah Bishop asked if we could rehab the mare following a tendon injury. Heidi had been in training but despite being 5 years of age, had not made it to the track as she was beset by problems. She arrived here with a 30% tear to the DDFT of her left foreleg; could we restore her to full health, get her back into training and onto a racecourse? Of course we could! Our management and rehab programmes are supported by leading vets and physios so provided Heidi played her part, and with the full range of the wonderful therapy products from FMBs Therapy at our disposal, this was going to be a piece of cake! Successive scans established all was going well with the final one being so good that the vet had trouble finding the original injury site. Heidi had the conditioning work we undertake for the dressage and event horses so when she arrived at Brendan Powell’s yard in March she was a little powerhouse. She settled into training very well and on 20th June ran at Worcester. Things could not have gone better – she started, ran a good race, completed, pulled up sound, was sound the next day and is now jumping hurdles in readiness for her next outing. A job well done all round.
The only disappointment was not being able to attend in person; we couldn’t go as just 4 days prior to the race we had taken in a horse fresh from vet clinic for recovery and rehab. 2 weeks previously the horse underwent emergency colic surgery but when opened up was deemed to have grass sickness. We spent a sleepless night awaiting news [as we had previously owned the horse in question for 9 years]. During the early hours the news came through that although very ill Oscar was hanging in there. Needless to say as soon as the morning’ duties were done off we went to see him – although fearing the worst. However we were met with a remarkably bright horse considering – and then the news broke that NEH had confirmed it was not grass sickness. What caused the exact same symptoms and gut motility we shall probably never know despite the owners having their grass and soil analysed for clues. Such cases are always a worry as will whatever it was strike again but a month down the line Oscar is the Oscar we always knew – we shall be very sorry to see him leave us again.
It is extremely rewarding piecing together why a horse might be performing poorly or not be quite right physically. More often than not the answers are very straightforward and easily rectified if a little time-consuming. One such case is that of Bumble. We first worked with the mare as a 3 year old when she came to us straight out of training having not shown any form on the track; we were limited in what we could do as Bumble was such a weak individual particularly through her back. Bumble duly returned to further her re-training the following year; in fact she came twice as she was proving to be rather exuberant and being rather naughty. As Bumble was based so far away we helped her owner find local support but over the ensuing months the situation didn’t improve and in May Bumble was duly shipped back her to see if we could get to the bottom of her bucking, reluctance to canter and general anti-social behaviour. As the mare presented all the same areas of tenderness and tightness as she had when first out of training kissing spine had to be ruled out but Bumble had gaps between her vertebrae you could drive a bus through! A very high dose bute trial brought absolutely no improvement with Bumble continuing to trot up and down on the spot, drop the bit and buck, nap and resist when asked to co-operate so a bone scan was to have been the next port of call. However we asked if she could have a regumate trial first; after tests to check for ovarian cysts, this was done and in just 5 days we had a new Bumble but within 5 days of coming off the regumate she reverted back. Following exhaustive analysis of the previous 3 years of “Bumble Behaviour” it was decided that the best course of action was a bi-lateral ovarectomy. And what a success this is proving to be; we are having to overcome muscle memory and long established adverse behaviours but Bumble is finally allowing herself to be retrained. Happy horse and even happier owner.
Our re-homing programme is really taking off and this now comes under the banner of “Rehoming Racehorses – A Life After Racing” although it all obviously part of Equine Management and Training; July alone has seen 4 horses happily placed in what we hope will be forever homes. We are building a great network around the country as we like to home to people we either know directly or have a link to in some way as this helps ensure we get the best possible homes.
One horse that won’t be going anywhere though is “Moon Over Miami” (Charlie Moon) as we have offered him a home for life. He is a cracking specimen of a horse and whilst he is proving to be very re-trainable in terms of his mental aptitude and physical ability in a controlled environment, he is very powerful and very strong-willed and once amongst a group of horses he becomes a completely different character fly-bucking and launching himself into the air. The show ring or dressage arena do not beckon anytime soon but ultimately if he doesn’t adapt to a different type of social life, it doesn’t matter – he has nothing to prove.
Our capacity to take in more horses whether for re-homing, re-training, rehabilitation or race prep is only limited by the lack of enough stabling so our search for a yard continues. If we wanted to move up North, to the Southwest or South we could relocate tomorrow but we wish to remain in the east of the East Midlands as it is a great location being accessible from all over the country. So if anyone reading this knows of yard do please get in touch!
Bye for now.
Fred and Rowena
Equine Management & Training
Inc Racehorse Rehoming – A Life After Racing