Other Exercise Riders
When exercising horses on the track in the morning, you need to ride defensively, as there are many other riders on the track besides you. Just like automobile drivers, some riders have drinking and drug problems. They will come to work drunk or high from the night before and exercise horses. Know who these riders are and steer clear of them in the morning when they are on horseback, and anytime afterward as well. There are also inexperienced, or “green,” riders who have little or no knowledge about how to conduct themselves. You need to know where they are on the track, so you can stay away from them, too.
You are responsible for the safety of you and your horse. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Exercising race horses can be a wonderful way to spend the morning—full to the maximum of physical and mental stimulation.
There are several riders on regular saddle horses stationed around the race track during training hours. These are the outriders, and their job is to assist you. The saddle horses they ride are called “ponies,” regardless of their bigger stature. The outriders can be life-savers when you are in trouble. Their ponies act like big brothers to the race horse, and a stoic, outrider’s pony can give a nervous race horse confi dence and security when traveling alongside.
Sometimes the outriders will accompany your horse behind the gate or help you gallop your horse to the pole slowly before you begin to breeze*. They use their ponies to get your horse under control, and get you where you need to be. They will also help if you have an equipment problem, or anything else you could not possibly think of before it actually happens.
*A breeze is an easy run, faster than a gallop, but with little encouragement.
Excerpt from How to Exercise a Thoroughbred Race Horse
by Janice L. Blake