OK, it's a long story that I won't bore you with but for one reason or another my husbands flat racer is now in my yard 'off season' ready to go back into training in feb/march. He's not fit, he missed most of the last season (even though he is not injured). He takes ages to get fit so we are starting now so he is ready for the start of next season - (if he stayed in training he wouldn't be doing anything now other than walking out). massive small problem is that I don't know anything about getting flat racers fit, I work with them when they retire and i'm very good at calming them down, but that's really not what we want to do here - DH will kill me if I do this! So what would be a good work program? I have at my disposal an arena, a 400m sand track and hacking out (but not on roads and the tracks are very rocky!) - no hills Currently he's doing 30min trotting work early morning and 15min walking out in the afternoon. He's been doing this for 2.5weeks.
I don't know anything about fittening racehorses and I am not very good at working out the best way, but usually I start with walking for about 30 mins daily for about a week to get their legs and feet "hardened" and then up to an hour, then I intersperse walking with short trots until they start to blow, then increase that gradually. I believe the rough time is about 6 weeks. You could do some lunging once he's got going as it's very good exercise, although I wouldn't do it straight away as it may not suit him going in circles if he's a bit unsupple. Next stage is short canters, increasing distance and speed once you're happy.
That gets my horse fit for hunting - I take him autumn hunting then do a couple of short quiet days (1.5-2 hrs) and that seems to do the trick.
We used to increase trotting by 10 minutes per week, until we reached 60 minutes. However, we only had them trotting three days per week. Two days we had them cantering on the track or beach. Once a week we gave them a proper gallop and one day a week rest (either in the stable or paddock, depending on the weather and depending on how sensible the horse was, some are likely to injure themselves when let out in a paddock). All days, except on the rest day they spend also considerable time on the walker.
Thanks for your answers: Frosty - I was kinda working along these lines as my only experience of getting horses really fit is also for hunt horses. i then had this horrible moment where I feared that's exactly what i'd get - a hunt horse with loads of stamina and not so much speed - for a horse that has to go like the clappers for a mile and stop I was worried I might be missing a trick! Octane - sadly that's the problem, there is no trainer. He was winning in a different country at the start of the season, lost his mojo in quarantine and went to a trainer that in 3months had achieved nothing, he came to me 3wks ago with no muscle, a dull coat, saddle rub marks over his withers and was walking around as quiet as a lamb. In the 3wks he's been with me his got some muscle starting to develop has a shine to his coat and is already jumping around like an idiot. We are looking for a new trainer but just doing what we can in the mean time. Dikkert - thanks that's really useful. he does get one day off each week and canters on the track once a week at present, think i'll up the trotting a bit now, he's already finding 30min too easy.
You are probably already doing this, but it is quite important that he trots both ways round, so he develops in an even manner. However, the fast gallop was always only one way round (the way in which they race), so they associate that way of lining up with getting ready to race.
Again, I am sure you already do this, but it is important to keep a close eye on his legs (to feel if they are warm, any swelling etc.) right after work but also a few hours later and during evening stables, so the training program can straight away be adjusted if there are any concerns.
Is he okay with the stalls? If not, he may need to practice (possibly there is a trainer near you where you can go now and then to practice the stalls or otherwise on the nearest race track).
Thanks to those of you that replied to this post... DHorse returned to a new race yard last week having gained 37kg of sheer muscle (and a bit of belly!). On his last day with us I lost my nerve and gave up as he was just too much horse to handle, the jockey that rode him on his first day back in formal training said 'we'd given him a monster to ride'...I think considering what we are trying to achieve it was quite a compliment He's also much happier having lots of fibre to his diet and being kept in a more natural environment. So fingers crossed everything works out this time, he's due to race at the end of next month.
thanks for the kind comments. he's a flat racer, we're actually in Mauritius - home to the oldest race track in the southern hemisphere - so he's with a local trainer here, a much smaller yard than before so easier to keep tabs on his progress. Just hope all the hard work pays off now.....