It’s National Racehorse Week - a nationwide annual celebration of the racehorse and a chance to see first-hand the love, care and attention that goes into looking after them.

In September 2022, in an experience like no other, over 140 events across the country, including training yards, studs and retraining centres, will open their doors to the public to show what life as a racehorse is really like.

We thought we too would celebrate the racehorse and have spoken to Caroline Harris for her insight into working with racehorses.

Caroline Harris is an international event rider based at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire with her string of event horses. Caroline has had many international successes including third place in the prestigious 8/9yo class at Blenheim last year. We caught up with Caroline to find out about her exciting young ex-racehorse.  

Can you tell us a little about your ex racehorse?

River Bridge aka Arbie is a 5yo, 16.1 gelding by Roderic O’Connor out of Green Room. He was in training with Ralph Beckett but never actually raced.

How have you found Arbie’s adjustment from race training to his new career in eventing?

He is a fantastic cross-country horse, he is quick, careful and clever. His weaknesses is just building strength on the flat as racehorses aren’t built for sitting and pushing, so it’s training him to learn to take the weight behind which takes time and patience. 

How do you find riding an ex-racehorse differs from a horse that is specifically bred and trained for eventing?

It’s all been about teaching him to take the weight behind, we’ve been doing lots of polework with him to train him to think about all his limbs and really flex and bend his hocks.  

What do you look for when a horse first arrives at your yard?

They’ve got to want to do the job. With a racehorse I want to see that they firstly have scope and secondly learn if they make a mistake at a fence. The rest we can train. I can train his technique to be better but it’s down to them and whether they want to leave the fences up or not. Ultimately you want the horse to be happy and enjoying the job. 

How do you manage Arbie’s diet?

We found he lost a little condition mid-way through the season, probably due to the very different type of work we were doing and also the lack of grass this summer. Arbie was on Daily Balancer and Fibre Lite Molasses Free but we moved him to High Fibre Cubes and Conditioning Fibre to help him maintain condition.

What does a typical day for Arbie look like (training & management)?

Arbie goes out in the field every day and gets worked once a day. His work is very varied from hacking, lunging, schooling and jumping. I’ve found jumping him little and often has really helped to train his technique. He’s a lot more confident now with doubles as he struggled with these to start with.

What are your hopes and plans for Arbie?

Arbie’s jumped double clear at every BE100 he’s done this year so the plan next year is to step up to Novice and aim him at the 6yo championships. He will have a holiday now then come in and work on strengthening his body for next season 

What are your top tips for anyone looking to event an ex racehorse?

My tip would be make sure they have a great brain, keep them happy and on side, if they have this they are a lot of fun to work with. Take your time with them and build their body up slowly.