Day in the Life of a Harness Horse
This is a small look into the world of Standardbreds. New owners and horse lovers alike will enjoy seeing the daily routine of the horses broken down and explained. There is a lot that happens in one day and a flurry of activity is always going on in the barn. We hope you enjoy this brief glimpse into a day in the life.
- 6:30 am – Lights on and breakfast is fed. The horses get approximately 3-4 pounds of grain in the early morning.
- 7:00 am – Horse feed tubs and water pails are removed and scrubbed clean of all leftover feed from the night before, with a stiff brush. Water pails are returned to the stall and filled with fresh, clean water.
- 7:30 am – Horses are brushed and harnessed; they are then put in crossties to wait for their turn on the racetrack.
- 8:00 am – 11:30 a.m. – Horses are taken out to the track and jogged anywhere from 3 to 6 miles. Some trainers will jog their horses based on time, anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Some horses will train if they have a race coming up or are being conditioned to come back to racing form. Training means that they will be “turned” and asked to go a faster mile. Horses generally jog around the track clockwise. When they are racing or training they “turn” and go counter clockwise. By using this method many horses will relax when jogging, and will be all business when they turn and go a training or racing mile.
(While the horses are on the track their stalls are cleaned, water buckets are topped up and a flake of hay is ready for them.)
After their work on the track, harnesses are removed and the horses are taken to the wash stall. After a light rinse with warm water they get a hot bubble bath to remove the sweat and grime. Another rinse follows the bubble bath and the horse is scraped and toweled dry. During bath time is a great opportunity for grooms to check the horse over for any cuts or bumps that may have occurred on the track. Horses may be offered a few sips of water during bath time to quench their thirst.
If a horse has trained a fast mile and is hot the groom may cool the horse down with a walk around the stable area. Water will be offered at intervals to ensure that the horse does not drink too much and cause himself a stomachache. Otherwise a cooler or a cool out sheet is placed on the horse and he is put back in his stall to dry off.
- 12:00 pm – Lunchtime! Approximately another 3-4 pounds of grain is given at lunch hour.
- 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm – Horses are taken out of their stalls and checked over. The horses will be brushed, have their feet picked out and any stones etc. removed, then hoof grease will be applied to the foot. Next the groom will determine what needs to be applied to the horse’s legs as a different liniment may be used for different circumstances (bumps/bruises/inflammation) and the horse will be bandaged accordingly. This process is called “Putting Away” since you finish up with the horse and put him away in his stall for the day. Another flake of hay is given to the horse when he returns to his stall.
- 5:00 pm – Dinnertime. Another 6-7 pounds of grain is given to the horses. Water buckets are topped up and 1 or 2 flakes of hay is given at this time. Check the gates to make sure they are latched properly and that’s it for the night.