How to Train a Quarter Horse for Racing


An experienced horseman with a well-bred, healthy, registered quarter horse at least 2 years old has a prospective racehorse. Training your own horse takes consistency and diligence, but it is well worth the effort financially. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction and pride of standing in the winner's circle as owner and trainer.

Things You'll Need

  • Snaffle bit
  • Bridle
  • Closed reins
  • Saddle cloth
  • Girth
  • Exercise saddle with stirrups
  • Water
  • Hay
  • Starting gates
  • Trainer's license in the state you will race
  • Owner's license in the state you will race
  • Jog your horse lightly for 1 mile working up to 2 miles a day for the first two weeks after bridling and saddling him. Train six days per week during this first stage.

  • Increase your horse's workload a couple of days after you see he breathes easily during 2 miles of jogging. Combine jogging a mile and galloping a mile spaced every other day for two to three weeks until the horse finishes his work with energy to spare. Graduate to galloping 2 miles one day and light jogging the next for six days a week.

  • Jog your horse out for a mile to begin speed work. Ask him for full-throttle speed going three furlongs. Repeat every week to 10 days interchanging the distance from three furlongs to four furlongs each outing.

  • Unsaddle your horse at the barn after training. Rinse him off in tepid water. Either hand walk or put him on a hot-walker to relax his muscles and prevent lactic acid accumulation in his muscles, called tying-up.

  • Place your cooled-out horse in his stall with at least two 5-gallon buckets of water and two flakes of good grass hay or legume. Do not feed or water a horse before he is cooled-out. This could cause colic.

  • Walk your horse through the open starting gates after he has gained his wind from speed work. Allow the horse to stand in the chute with both the back and front gate open for several minutes. Do this exercise until your horse comfortably stands and walks through the gates.

  • Close the front gate and walk your now comfortable horse into the chute. Shut the back gate. Allow him to stand still in the enclosed chute for a minute or two. Open the front gate and cue your horse to move out of the chute. Repeat this exercise each training period building up to a full gallop exit out of the gate.

Tips & Warnings

  • A quarter horse must have two officially timed works within a 45-day period before starting a race unless he has raced within that period of time. You will also need a trainer's and owner's license in the state you will race.
  • Trim and shoe your horse's hooves at least every six weeks and before each race by a professional farrier experienced with racehorse shoeing.
  • Increased exercise burns calories quickly requiring more feed daily to maintain energy. Feed all your horse high-quality grass hay or legume, plus a good quality feed with at least a 14 percent protein level in amounts calibrated to your horse's weight.
  • Provide clean, fresh water available to your horse.
  • Apprentice with a successful experienced racehorse trainer for a couple of years. Two famous Kentucky Derby winning racehorse trainers who began as quarter horse trainers are D. Wayne Lucas and Bob Baffert.
  • Do not ignore signs of stress, illness or injury. Your veterinarian should be your guide on what these signs mean and how to treat them.
  • Check your horse's legs before and after every workout for hot spots. Heat in a horse's legs can be early signs of injury.
  • Never train nor race with a lose shoe or missing a shoe. Improper shoeing can quickly cause injury
  • Watch your horse's eating and drinking habits. If your horse lies down and rolls repeatedly, this could be a sign of colic. Call your veterinarian immediately if this symptom occurs.

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  • Photo Credit race horses image by Clarence Alford from horse shoe making1 image by MLA Photography from
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