After spending several hours at the Jockey Club’s amazing Welfare & Safety Summit at Keeneland today, it got me thinking about what it means to be an owner.
Granted the lectures on the “Effects of Training & Racing on the Muscoloskeletal System” and “Corticosteroids & the Horse in Training” were intended more for practicing veterinarians and trainers, but there were elements of each talk that were critically important to every person connected to the Thoroughbred industry ~ and I was surprised I didn’t see more owners in the crowd.
This is by no means a knock on owners, many of whom go to great lengths to ensure the fitness and soundness of their animals in a myriad of ways. However, I believe we all have a duty to understand the fundamentals of the racehorse: and I don’t just mean at the windows.
Hearing Dr. Bramlage explain the timetable of bone growth and its deterioration proved to be the science behind the phrase every owner hates to hear from their trainer: “he needs time.”
Sure I understood the basics from being at the track most of my life, but to see the best orthopedic mind in the business explain it gave me a level of insight I never could have imagined existed.
I think some owners are afraid that if they ask questions, their trainer will get mad or think them a pest… quite the contrary: if you know what questions to ask, you are taking responsibility for your investment and are able to collaborate with your trainer on the best course of action. The same is true for your veterinarians.
I don’t know a decent trainer out there that would have a problem with an owner trying to get a better understanding of his horse’s situation – if yours does, it might be time to find another one.
Owning racehorses is anything but cheap: we all know this. But there are signs missed along the way in barns big and small – no one can be everything to every horse or human. It’s our job as owners to take responsibility – call it ownership – in our investment.