RACEHORSE trainers based in Wales are offering a fantastic opportunity to discover the inner workings of a race yard, by opening their doors to the public for free. 

Established trainers and rehabilitation yards will host open days as part of National Racehorse Week. The nationwide event runs from September 10-18 and launched last year with great success. 

Over 150 venues will open across Britain, including three in Wales, offering the public the chance to see the love, nurture and attention to detail that goes into caring for racehorses. 

The open days are free to attend and people of all ages are welcome, offering a fantastic family day out in the countryside.

As well as horses in training to race, several studs (where these horses are bred) and after care centres have also come on board for this exciting initiative. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the stars of the sport up close and meet the team of staff and professionals, who ensure that these equine athletes lead happy lives, both during their career in racing and after they have retired. 

The industry employs more than 6,000 people, most of whom are in some way involved in providing the highest level of care to these magnificent animals 365 days of the year.

Spiteri Retraining is run by Sophie Spiteri, with the aim of re-educating former racehorses so that they might find new careers. Much of this takes place on the coast in Wales. The yard is offering visitors a trip to the beach to watch the ex-racehorses enjoying themselves on the sand. She retrains for well-known trainers like Clive Cox and Neil Mulholland.

Spiteri said, “We are delighted to welcome you to Arwel. We have retrained over 120 racehorses in the last 10 years and plan to continue educating horses that are exiting the racing industry for many years to come. We look forward to welcoming you to our event.”

Other opportunities in the region include open days from  Evan Williams on 11th September and Nikki Evans (date to be announced) who has been training horses for 20 years and is based at the foot of the Black Mountains near Abergavenny.

The open days will showcase a range of activities which varies from yard to yard, but all will offer the chance to meet racehorses in training, as well as the much-loved stable stars who have retired. 

The trainers and their team will host a guided tour of their facilities, offering the chance to see horses exercise on the gallops, and on the treadmills and walkers. Some yards even have purposefully designed equine swimming pools, an activity most horses enjoy and just like with humans, it offers a great low-impact workout. 

Physiotherapists, chiropractors and farriers (who put the horse’s shoes on) are an intrinsic part of any trainers’ yard, and many open days will offer demonstrations and insight into these important aspects of horse management and welfare.

Even for those with little interest in horses and horse racing, these open days promise a unique and wholesome ‘day out’, amidst beautiful countryside. There will be light refreshments in most cases.

A recent survey commissioned by Great British Racing, highlighted some startling figures concerning city-dwellers. Whilst 84% of participants in the survey reported feeling happy when close to animals, 34% had never touched a horse and 50% of 18-24 year olds who lived in cities have never seen or can’t remember seeing a horse ‘in person’. 

It is no secret that spending time in the countryside and around animals is excellent for health and well-being, yet almost half the people surveyed had not visited the countryside in the last year. 

TV Star and ITV Racing Presenter Chris Hughes, a huge racing enthusiast and an ambassador for National Racehorse Week, said: “The impact of getting up close to a horse cannot be underestimated. And racing has created a unique opportunity through National Racehorse Week to help people meet these incredible animals, experience the life of a thoroughbred and talk to the dedicated teams who care for them 365 days a year. There is nothing quite like this in any other sport. More than 11,000 places will be available to book free of charge at locations up and down the country with everyone welcome to join.”

Visits to the event must be booked in advance. To find out which yards are open in your area, there is a useful postcode search on the National Racehorse Week website that will advise you of a number of events in your area.  Please visit nationalracehorseweek.uk.