Daily Stable Routine
At a very early 4.30am, the head lad Johnny Kavanagh feeds all our horses. Each one, and there are over a hundred, has their legs checked for heat, swelling and knocks, as well as uneaten food and any other worrying signs that something might be amiss. If any horse has not eaten up, their temperature is taken, to check they are OK.
Before first lot, Johnny and the team weigh our horses running that day and make a note for our records. First lot pulls out just before 6.45am, so the grooms, jockeys and work-riders arrive at approximately 6.00am to scrutinise the large ‘riding out board’ hung up outside the tackroom. As well as their tack, they grab a wheelbarrow and tools as everyone mucks out their first lot. Six “yardies” muck out the remainder throughout the morning, bedding up with new shavings on Mondays and Thursdays. They also hay the horses before their return and put horses on the walkers during first lot. Thus, the yard runs like a well-oiled cog.
All the riders mount and congregate in the indoor school for a warm up trot. The eagle-eyes of Assistant Trainer, Guy Upton, assess each horse for lameness. Here, everyone is split up into groups according to what work they are doing.
After being ridden out, the horses have their legs hosed and washed and, if needed, their heels treated with Sudocrem to prevent any soreness. All are cooled off and re-rugged appropriately.
Second lot pulls out at 8.00am and follows exactly the same routine as first lot. After this lot, the previous day’s runners are trotted up in front of Jonjo, Guy and the head lads. If sound, they are put on the walker for half an hour, for a leg stretch or turned out into the many paddocks.
When every lot has finished, both gallops (the five furlong Eurotrack short and the one mile Polytrack long) are rotavated by the yard’s maintenance man, Simon Rand. This keeps the surface as perfect as possible.
Third lot follows on at 9.15am and forth lot at 10.30am. At the busiest times, there will be a fifth lot pulling out at 11.30am. Not everyone will ride a forth or a fifth lot as they are assigned different tasks. These include swimming horses, rugging up, turning horses out in the paddocks, giving runners picks of grass, breaking youngsters (mainly in the summer months), hanging up the washed towelling rubbers and girth sleeves in the drying room and hosing clean the wash boxes. The manual work is made a lot lighter by the existence of the mini road sweeper that goes round twice daily, keeping the yards spotless. On Thursdays, every horse is weighed; it’s weight recorded on a sheet.
This is the “typical” daily routine but, of course, days often differ and there is never really a typical day. For instance, visits from the vets alter a morning, as does schooling and, of course, there is racing to be taken into consideration.
The horses are fed their lunch at approximately 12.15pm, aiming to finish by half past so the staff can have their own lunch.
Evening stables begins at 3.30pm. Each groom does their “own”, allocated horses and often do a “spare” to. This information is written on the white board outside the feedroom. Certain horses are put on the walkers, and these are removed before 5.00, or horses are brought in from the paddocks. Everyone works through their horses; skipping out, refreshing water, brushing thoroughly and rugging up. Meanwhile, Johnny does his check of legs and each horse’s general wellbeing, plus examining the standard of workmanship. Afterwards, everyone has specific jobs to do: hanging up the wet rubbers, raking the walkers flat, making up the evening feeds, harrowing the surface in the indoor school, plus haying or dishing out the soaked sugar beet. Johnny aims to feed the horses their supper and be done by 5.30; then, it is home time!