A day in the life: Stable Staff in the UK
If you venture a few miles outside of the world-famous market town of Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, you will come across the picturesque countryside village of Billesley; which in 2017 became home to the Headquarters of Olly Murphy Racing’s Horse Racing yard, Warren Chase.
Olly was no stranger to the ins and outs of racing when we embarked on his own, having worked for Alan King for a year, then moving on to being Assistant Trainer at the prestigious Cullentra House Stables in County Meath, Ireland, where leading trainer Gordon Elliott is based. Behind the scenes of any successful yard are hardworking and dedicated staff; so
much work goes into preparing and keeping these beautiful animals to the utmost standard, which is why it is imperative that we appreciate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of our much loved sport by the unsung heroes, the stable staff. It is widely known that working within horse racing is done not for money, but for the love of the animals which makes it that much more special.
Speaking to a member of Olly’s team about why he chose to work in the industry, he told me “I’ve always loved the sport, and after I went to university and didn’t enjoy it I decided to attend the British Racing School* in Newmarket; I fell in love with the animals and realised that this is what I wanted to do. This is the second yard I have worked at now and I feel very lucky to be working for someone like Olly.”
*The British Racing School –
A typical day for the staff usually begins around 6:30am, with the horses being fed their breakfast (It will be of no surprise to anybody that is involved with horses that they know exactly when feeding time is – as the picture below illustrates perfectly!)
Remaining staff will then put their horses on the walker (A piece of equipment that leads horses to walk around in a circle) and muck out a couple of the boxes. 7:00am sees the first lot of horses pull out in a group to exercise, whilst the specific yard staff who do not ride will each have their own barns to muck out and tidy.
Around half an hour later, at 7:30am, the horses return to the yard to be washed off and then put on the walkers to cool off and relax. Amazingly, this is repeated usually 4 or 5 times throughout the morning as there are over 100 horses that need to go out! 11:30am usually sees the last of the horses return from exercise, at which point the yard is tidied and the horses are fed and given their hay. Work finishes at 12:30pm – but make no mistake, this is not when the day ends for the staff.
2 hours later at 2:30pm, everyone returns for what is known as ‘Evening Stables’ – the horses are skipped out (This is where the horses droppings are removed from their bed as it is vital for their health that this is done). General yard duties are completed such as cleaning the water troughs, feeding pots and the walkers used earlier on in the day.
At 4:15pm the horses are fed again, and 4:30pm sees the end of the day for the staff.
This does not include horses that are being taken to the races, which adds another whole dimension to the job role – This is the first article in a series on ‘A day in the life of’ where I will be following and telling the story of those within the industry.
Coming Next: A day at the races with a Travelling Head Lad – Behind the scenes.