We were blessed with lovely Spring weather for the morning at Mrs Robeson’s National Hunt yard in Buckinghamshire. The strike rate for this 24 horse yard since 1st January is looking impressive, 4 winners and numerous placings from the handful that run at this time of the year.
Two FBHS’s, five BHSI’s and 3 guests were treated to watching “happy athletes” in their work. We arrived in time for 2nd lot who were schooling over chase fences and hurdles in a paddock with poles, show jumps, ditches, tyres and barrels which all the horses start over. Then if they don’t want to be a racehorse they can always find another job for them.
Having warmed up around some of the 1000 acres available to them Sam Jones (jockey) and Alice Gouldeman (head girl) schooled 2 horses over the chase fences. Then they swopped onto 2 hurdlers and showed us the different technique that the horses jump with, flatter and quicker through the air. Again they swopped onto 2 younger horses to do the hurdles, Alice’s’ mare made a mistake and had to come up the 3 flights again and had been very quick to learn. They school in a good working canter not racing speed so that they gain in experience and confidence
Then we were transported up to the 7 furlong all weather gallop by an assortment of 4 wheel drive vehicles to watch the 3rd lot of the morning do a “piece of work”. They cantered up the first time, part of the gallop is uphill and flattens out on the top for the last 3 furlongs. They lobbed back to the hill which they walk down and then cantered to the start. The second time up was much quicker with a good 3/4 speed off the top of the hill. The power and speed at which they passed us made your spine tingle. Having pulled up they came back to Mrs Robeson. Stuart Edmunds (Assistant Trainer) and Sam discussed how the horses felt and where they would be best suited to running next. Then only 4 feet from the horses Mrs ‘R’ started her quad bike up and not one horse was worried!!!
Having made our way back to the yard Stuart gave us a tour round the lovely stone built boxes, brass taps and light switches highly polished. He was completely at ease discussing the horses, feeding and training methods that keep their horses fit and happy, and the employment issues in the racing yards. Sam showed us his 4 main saddles that uses to race ride in depending on the weight he has to do. I wouldn’t want to ride a novice over chase fences on that postage stamp!! Nick Brown who runs a racing syndicate explained all about the rating, penalties and handicapping system and was a mine of technical information.
Our thanks go to Mrs Robeson, Stuart, Sam and all the staff who were so generous with their time. As Stuart said “we keep everything simple and straight forward to keep the horses happy and at 84 years old Mrs ‘R’ is very good at keeping up to date with the veterinary help available nowadays.”
Report written by Ann Bostock – March, 2012