Recently myself & Dante took a trip to the gallops! Wow, what an experience. I would highly recommend everyone going at least once with their horse, it is such a thrill.
I will admit, the days leading up to it were quite nerve wrecking. Dante had been off work the week before, and with a few minor set backs when he came back into work it meant I only had the day previous to get all the extra energy out of him.
On the day only 1 other horse accompanied Dante & I, a horse Dante was quite fond of to be fair so there was no bad behaviour out of either of them, one nappy moment half way through from Dante but that was to be expected!!
Below I have gone through a few things to expect during your visit, it was a great help that Jer was with me on the day(one of mine & Dante’s trainers), sure he only used to ride out some of the race horses there so he knew his way around & had great experience!
Remember, the minute you set foot on the gallops, it doesn’t mean you have to start racing off straight away. Treat it the same way as if you were in your arena or field at home. Your horse still needs a warm up. Keeping Dante in walk for half a lap of the gallops to begin with bringing him up into a trot, doing a full lap on either rein before we started any canter work. Doing this first was perfect, it let him adjust to his surroundings. It also put the idea into his head that rushing and taking off around the place is not something I wanted, or that he should be doing.
Keep Your Horse Calm
Do keep in mind that you Don’t have a fired up warm blooded Thoroughbred underneath you!!! With a young horse especially, you constantly want them to learn & improve their skills, not pick up bad habits or give them extra excuses to act out. Upon arriving to the gallops, we decided to take it easy, we weren’t exactly going to let our horses run wild, it was more of a chance for them to stretch there legs & enjoy new surroundings. Try to make a plan with whoever it is your at the gallops with, it is not ideal if one person wants to go mad & the other wants to take it easy. Make sure you are prepared before hand!
Moving Up into Canter
I mentioned above that there was only 2 of us at the gallops, as the gallops were so big it gave us a chance to do things alone with our horses. Dante is quite the sheep in a sense that if he is in behind a horse he will make it his mission to speed up to be at the front. He is your typical male heard animal! With this, when we moved up into canter Dante went up in front and we done our own thing. I wont lie, I thought he would take off the minute I asked him to go forward, but he didn’t! After half a lap of canter I had to put leg on to keep him moving which I was quite surprised by, I thought he would jump at the chance to bomb it around the place! He was quite relaxed, as I pushed him forward more he really began to stretch out & dear god he has a long stride!
The Ground & Your Horses Fitness
At the gallops we visited, there were two tracks, an all weather oval sand gallops & an all weather woodchip gallops. The woodchip was a lot deeper so the horses had to work themselves a lot more through it. With the woodchip gallops, both horses had to work themselves up to the top of a hill before we finished off by letting them walk back down. It was a great way of seeing what level of fitness your horse was at, but be careful not to over do it with your horse through deep ground. If you feel your horse struggling to keep forward bring him back to trot, all the signs of panting and struggling to move forward will be there so listen to your horse! The last thing you want is to over do anything or worse again cause injury because you pushed your horse too hard when his fitness levels just weren’t there.
Keep an eye on your Surroundings
This may be an obvious one, but remember your horse is in a new place. The yard that we were at in particular had a lot of paddocks around, with a lot of yearlings loving life in the fields surrounding the gallops! So if your horse is spooky, or tends to react to other horses bombing it around the field do expect a few looks from them here and there! I guess with any horse you should always expect the unexpected.
My Top Tips For visiting the Gallops
- Warm your horse up, Start with a brisk walk, making sure to do some Trot work before galloping so your horse can adjust itself to the ground & get used to his surroundings
- Get up off your horses back when Cantering / Galloping
- Dont pull on or lean on their mouths, let them lose if that is what they are fighting you to do
- Remember your horses fitness DONT over do it, in the long run you may cause injury.
- If the track is deep, remember your horse has to work themselves more, moving at such speed they will have to use a lot more energy, so keep an eye on this, don’t keep pushing them if they are dropping back down to trot
- Cool them down afterwards, doing at least one lap in walk when you finish up to give them a breather
- Wear a back Protector
- And Last but not least, enjoy yourself!
Once again, thanks For Reading, and if you get a chance to visit your local gallops definitely take advantage. Take a look at the video I have made above to see Dante’s experience, It is 100% well worth it.