It is frightening to think that we are already 3 weeks past the longest day, the Olympics are just around the corner and then …. summer will be over! Now we know that has really cheered you up! However, summer doesn’t seem to have properly kicked in yet so hopefully this means that we will see some decent weather through the Autumn months, but one thing is for sure …. the first person to mention a hose-pipe ban …..!
The wet ground certainly saw some interesting racing at Ascot although it is very disappointing that a few other equestrian events have been cancelled and of course we lost the first day of Royal Windsor. Just as well the rain has finally stopped falling in such monsoon proportions otherwise BREXIT could have been reversed in that Britain would have floated back to Europe!
So what has been occurring in the ever eventful days at EMT over the past 3 months?
Our own horse numbers have been expanded by yet another with the addition of Qanawaat, a delightful little thoroughbred who doesn’t appear to have raced at all, but certainly not in this country. He spent quite a while out in Meydan so if anyone has any information about him we would love to hear from you. He is an absolute delight to have around; initially very nervous and insecure he is becoming quite a character as his confidence grows. We are sure that we are going to have a lot of fun with this chap.
Our quest to find a larger yard grows ever more urgent as we are working with more and more horses in need of our rehabilitation services. This is not just in respect of horses that are recovering from an injury of some sort or surgery but with regards to injury prevention. A growing number of owners and trainers are wanting to take advantage of our “conditioning and core-strength” programmes so that their horses are as correctly muscled and strong as possible which better enables them to do the work asked of them and helps to reduce the risk of injury.
It is actually quite alarming for us to observe the musculature of many horses racing – well indeed in any equestrian sport – whether the lack of it, incorrect formation or atrophy. Oh how we would love to get our mittens on some of them! It is the same watching horses move and seeing that whilst they may not be lame, they are not actually moving correctly. Unfortunately this will impact at some point in time, most likely in the form of tendon or ligament injury.
We do see some sad cases in the course of our retraining programmes and it frustrates us that we cannot always help. One such instance occurred in May when we were asked to assess a gelding that the loaner was having some problems with whilst trying to retrain it. We had had numerous discussions over the preceding months but as the situation was clearly deteriorating we suggested that the horse may well have kissing spine only to be shouted down as a vet trained in physiotherapy” had seen the horse under saddle and stated there was nothing wrong physically. Anyway the horse duly arrived – unsound as it walked into the yard and with some hideous muscle formation. The poor animal didn’t know how to move when let loose in the school so we refused to do anything until our vets had seen it. No surprise, upon investigation that top of the list of problems presenting was kissing spine! We would have felt much better if the horse had been euthanized there and then but the owner wasn’t convinced there was anything wrong and insisted of having it back from the loaner so what has become of the horse now we have no idea. How can situations like this arise?
Back to the world of racing, and it is encouraging that increasingly trainers are wanting a prepping service to precede traditional pre-training as they are seeing the benefits of a young horse being started a little more slowly than is the norm in racing circles. This is wonderful to see and let’s hope it is something that The Horse Comes First initiative picks up on in due course.
So much of what we do has to be kept under wraps as trainers are notorious for not wanting to “give their secrets away”. We must of course respect our clients’ wishes but sometimes it would be wonderful to shout it from the rooftops. We keep thinking that ideally Fred should become a racing manager to someone as that would be an ideal way of raising awareness. … you never know what lies around the corner!
Rehab with the bay horse we mentioned last time is going superbly with it bearing absolutely no resemblance to the horse that arrived; there is still work to be done but the change just illustrates what can be achieved even before a horse is in full work or even under saddle.
We are very pleased to be working with a patient of Celia Marr. Whilst we are unable to provide any detail, it is testament to our work that she endorsed the horse coming to us for its rehab whilst under her care. A follow-up consultation is due soon so let us hope there is significant improvement in the horse’s condition; certainly physical appearance and demeanour have changed considerably.
A few weeks ago we send GT on his travels to join his owners in Switzerland. This ex-Lucy Wadham trained gelding was a feisty character when we first set him on the retraining path a couple of years ago and upon his return to us this Spring following a year off he was determined to put us through our paces again; such a cheeky character, he mellowed quickly this time around and has settled into his new surroundings very well and very quickly.
One of our number, Rowena that is, has been taking western riding lessons. It is something she has long-since wanted to do so it has had to be done. Obviously a completely different concept to the traditional English riding style but Rowena, having so much natural balance, feel and confident in her ability to ride off weight and leg alone, soon got to grips with it. Hmm .. who knows, we may just have to train up one or two of ours!
Another reason for needing more space is that our rehoming programme is growing – rapidly! 7 horses have arrived in the past 3 weeks which might not seem a lot by BTRC, HEROS or Moorcroft standards but along side our training, retraining and rehabilitation services, that is plenty to cope with as all need to be properly assessed before they can be found the right homes with the right people. It is of course easier to find homes for the younger horses but a fit, healthy older horse still has plenty to offer. No horse is homed just to “get it into a home”; to the best of our ability we carefully match horse and home as we want to see a long and happy relationship.
Retraining racehorses is very rewarding especially when we see so many of the horses we have started on their journey outside racing go on not only to compete but pick up ribbons too. And even better if we have rehomed them too.
Life doesn’t just revolve around the yard – we do like to get out and about and there are always places to go and people to see. Whilst bobbing down to Newmarket is a regular to catch up with trainers and activities at the CRS, we are do like to hit the highway and distance is no object. A 3-hour drive to Kent for a night out is not uncommon so just last week we popped up to Penrith for some shopping – a 20-hour round trip but well-worth it!
And talking of shopping we are getting a bit twitchy as after 18 months it’s time to think about a car change. Much as we love the Audi, we are wondering whether we should go for something a bit more practical so might have to pop into Landrover in the coming weeks.
It might only be July but in another couple of months it will be time to start the fundraising drive again for Greatwood Raceday 2017. Much as there are the regular supporters and sponsors it’s a fun challenge thinking of who to contact to persuade to come on board. And of course we also have to really get to work on fundraising for “Rehoming Racehorses – A Life After Racing” now that the website is nearly done.
By Autumn we must also turn our thoughts to getting started on the next book we have been commissioned to write but between now and then we have a lot to fit in. We were supposed to go to Ireland this month but one our current inmates is a less-than-straightforward character so we cannot risk leaving him in the hands of someone else for the sake of the horse and the persons left in charge in our absence! Would have been great to go and so much was on offer but hopefully this is something we can pick up on again in 2017!
Three weeks ago Burghley Park was alive to the sounds of Bryan Ferry; this weekend we have the annual Battle Proms complete with goodness knows how many rounds of cannon fire and a firework display so no Saturday night out for us! We have never had a issue with any of the horses getting upset which is testament to how content and relaxed they feel whilst here but we obviously have to be about just in case; it is actually ourselves who get aggravated by the constant booms and bangs. A regular in the skies above us during the summer months, it is always emotive to see and hear the spitfire and this weekend we will be treated to another superb aerial display by Carolyn Grace as she manoeuvres the Grace Spitfire in a choreographed performance to suit the opening pieces of the concert. So not all bad, although if the weather would oblige with an East wind it would carry the sounds in the opposite direction! Until next time……
Over and Out.
Fred and Rowena
Equine Management & Training
Inc Racehorse Rehoming – A Life After Racing