- Published: September 3, 2002
- Written by Bryan Krantz
The summer has been hot and slow for our stable but this is the time of year when we start serious training preparation for fall racing. Most of the horses have been galloping since the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This is sort of an equine boot camp. Horses gallop (a slow run) between one and two miles six days a week. After 60-90 days of training like this, some speed work is phased in (depending on the fitness level of the horse). This change in routine is called a "work." Works don't have to be timed but the closer to race fitness, the more important time becomes. At first, works are little more than a faster or "open gallop." These just give the horse a message of what is expected. Most horses catch on pretty quick and are anxious to show their stuff within a work or two. Some horses can be pretty slow learners and some just tell you it's not for them. The main caution is not to let a horse work too fast and risk an injury from overexertion before their fitness level can accept the stress. Works usually come at five to six day intervals and then the horse is monitored for the following days to make sure appetite and hydration remain at high levels. Loss of appetite or depletion of fluids indicates a horse has overdone its training regime (or is sick). Works progress in distance, and time becomes a focal issue. Even if a horse works fast against the watch, a work in company may tell if there is heart and desire necessary for a quality race prospect.