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Insights from a Rookie Racehorse Owner

As the "marketing guy" for a state of the art thoroughbred training center in East Texas, I've had the opportunity to learn about the horse racing and training industry firsthand

from some of the best horsemen and women in Texas and beyond. I have always loved horses. I even had one as a kid. Heck, I was even crazy enough to try out for the Texas Tech Red Raider mascot competition when I was a freshman in college. All I wanted to do was get on the back of that amazing stallion even if for just a

few minutes. I think I came in last.

There is a lot that goes on at a thoroughbred training facility. The breaking and training of yearlings. Preparing two year olds for the track. Refreshing veteran racehorses. Providing therapy to horses young and old with injuries. Caring for mares and foals in the pastures.

A trainer once told me, "Don't get attached". Well, I never was a very good listener.

I fell in love with an older filly that was in a therapy center rehabbing from ankle surgery. The owner simply didn't want the horse anymore and did not pay his bill. Just discarded her. So a friend and I bought her.

After spending a lot of time with top trainers, veterinarians, owners, breeders, and great horsemen, I felt like I could do this. I thought I could be a racehorse owner especially with a partner with tons of experience in horse racing. I mean it is just one horse, right?

She had some success at the track. Getting your family's picture in the Winners Circle with YOUR horse is exhilarating. There are special races called claiming races. When you enter a claiming race, you are basically putting your horse up for sale for a specified amount. This gives someone the chance to claim your horse for that price.

Why would you do that? Oftentimes, that is the level at which your horse is most competitive. Sometimes an owner hopes their horse gets claimed, but remember I am not a good listener. I was attached. Our horse got claimed in her fourth race. She was no longer "our horse." Did I mention I get attached?

Six months later, she was running in a claiming race for another owner and we claimed her back. She ran the next few races for us and had some success. She placed third twice, making a paycheck in each race. This is a major accomplishment in horse racing.

Once that track completed its season, it was time to move her to another track. On the way to the next track, we decided to take her to the Training Center in East Texas to get checked out and make sure she was still good and sound to continue racing.

During that evaluation the veterinarian determined she was lame due to some soreness in her right front ankle. She loves her job and she loves to compete. The only real cure for her condition was rest which included at least 30 days of pasture time. In addition she received therapy center modalities including Cold Saltwater Spa treatments, Vibration Plate and Laser Therapy. Our hope was to get her back to racing in a few months. As of today, she is currently living the great life of a horse getting some well deserved time off and lots of loving care.

So what happened to her? What caused her initial injury years ago? Why did she get bone bruising and swelling in her ankle? Was it just the rigors of the track? Was it a bad step during her last race? Weak ankles? Bad luck?

I was told, “Well that’s horseracing….”. That answer did not satisfy me.

I decided to do some research on her condition. I wanted to determine if anything in her early training and career could have been done differently to help prevent both her old and current injury.

Could a training program, a system, help a horse build stronger bones and soft tissue at a young age and throughout their racing career? 

Below is an article I wrote with the help of “The GOOGLE” and other tools including my filly’s Veterinarian notes and diagnosis.

Here is what I discovered.


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