How to Train a Winning Race Horse
Written by CRM
Friday, 23 August 2019 23:38

Horse training isn’t an overnight affair. It isn’t something that you can just pick up and learn over a couple of days. If you want to train a winning racehorse, one that you could back at the track’s betting odds boards, it’s going to take a lot of time, effort, and pedigree.

However, training a racehorse is fun, even for beginners. Let’s go over a few basics things to keep in mind.


We should assume that you have considered the pedigree of your colt or filly. A proper racehorse has racing in the blood. So, if you try to train a stock horse to race, the results won’t be optimal. Stock horses have cattling in the blood. You have to think of it similar to dogs. Certain dogs have inherent behavior based on their bloodlines. A pit bull is going to excel at fighting – unfortunately. A Labrador is going to excel at retrieving. A cattle dog is going to excel at herding, etc. It’s not that other types of dogs can’t do these tasks, it’s just that the dogs that are bred for a specific task do it better. The same goes for horses.

So the first step is to make sure you are starting with a racehorse, to begin with. On top of this, the behavior is important as well. Horses can be skittish. For a racehorse, you need a relaxed, easy-going horse by nature. One that isn’t afraid of other animals or humans. This will make training him or her a lot easier.

Gate Training

Beyond your standard lead training and ground training, you’ll need to get your horse accustomed to the small enclosed area that makes up the starting gates. It can take quite some time for the horse to get used to this aspect of racing. Back in the day, the horses just lined up behind a rope, so it wasn’t as big of a training concern. But, now they must enter the small, stall-like gate which often makes younger horses nervous.

Building a dummy gate to help train your horse is a great way to slowly get your horse used to the starting gate.

Circles not Straight

Horses are natural runners, it’s what they do. But in the wild, they usually run in straight lines. You need to train your horse to run in a long circle (oval).

Lead Changes

Along with training your horse how to run on a track, they need to understand how and when to use their energy. This means you’ll need to spend a good deal of time focusing on lead changes. This doesn’t mean chasing down a horse that has the lead, but rather when the horse’s feet touch the ground. A right-side dominant horse with rin with a right lead down the straights, but when they make a counter-clockwise turn around the track, they should switch toa ‘left lead’. If they don’t, they will tire much more quickly than the horses who efficiently change lead on command.

Don’t Forget Your DMG During Workouts

DMG or dimethylglycine can be a great supplement for racehorses. The compound has shown to increase endurance and oxygen utilization as well as to limit lactic acid buildup. So, a horse that is a good starter but weak finisher can finish stronger with DMG supplementation.

These are just a couple of things to keep in mind as a beginning racehorse trainer. Remember to be patient and keep at it. As you become better at training, your horses will become better racers.