If you like watching sunrises and getting up early, racing is for you. No matter if you choose a farm job or a racetrack job, you will be getting to work early.
If you decide to work in a racing stable, you will getting to the barn before the sun rises. With the first horses going to the track around 3.30am every morning you will be expected to arrive at 3.00am. Your mornings will include making sure horses are ready to go out for their assigned exercise, that stables are mucked out, and horses are fed.
At about 9.00 a.m., the morning duties in the stable will be done and you’ll get to go home for a few hours. Around noon, you’ll come back to work for afternoon stables. While it isn’t as hectic as the morning, horses will usually exercise again and stalls will be mucked one final time. Once the yards are all tended and horses are settled in for the night, on a normal day you will end your work day around 3.00 p.m.
Keep in mind that if one of the horses you take care of is running, you’ll often be expected to accompany him to the races. Depending on the time of the race, this could mean that you work late escorting him to the track and bringing him back home after the race.
If the horse is traveling to a track farther from your home base than just a few hours, you’ll stay overnight at the location. Depending on your employer, you may get some time off after you return or you may just return to your normal schedule.
For most trainers you will get a day and a half off every other week. A typical schedule has you coming in for the morning stables on a Saturday but not having to return for afternoon stables that day or coming in at all on the Sunday.
Umut Odemislioglu, the strapper of top mare Winx, admits that the hours can be hard until you get used to them. “The hours are challenging but give it a chance for a few months,” he explained. “The first year is always hard and vyou have to accept that this is not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he said.
If you decide to work on a farm, you won’t be getting up as early but you’ll still be beating the sun up some days. Depending on your division and the time of year, your day will start at 6.00 or 7.00 a.m. making sure the horses came through the night okay. From there, you may be given the task of feeding the horses, turning them out, or helping get them ready for the vet or for early morning exercise.
After you do the early morning tasks, you may be given a breakfast break before returning to continue your work until you have an hour long lunch. Most farms end the day around 4.00 p.m., though each division may have to stay a little later depending on the schedule.
For some farms, there will be people asked to stay and watch mares due to foal for a few hours after their normal shift until the evening foal watch arrives around 7.00 p.m. If you work with yearlings, some farms turn out their yearlings in sales prep right before the sun goes down so you may come back for an hour or so in the evening to complete this task.
Your days off will depend on the farm you work on. While some farms will give you a full weekend off every other week, on others you will have a day off every week.
While the hours may not be the best, the satisfaction you’ll feel seeing your horse go on to success and the adventures you’ll have in racing will make it so you can’t imagine anything doing else.