Final Racehorse Retraining Clinic in Japan 2018

The final clinic here in Japan was in Fukuoka, in the South Island of Japan, not far from Korea. It was a completely new group of horses and riders, just because the last clinic was on the main island. It was well attended with four groups of OTTB’s that are already jumping and another group doing dressage. The clinics are jointly hosted by the National Riding Club Association of Japan (NRCAJ), the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and #GodolphinLifetimeCare who pay the cost of attending, and anyone who’s got an OTTB can sign up – horses ranged from three years old to 19 years, it was really a broad assortment.

The structure of this clinic was similar to the first one, first meeting in a classroom and getting to know everyone and find out about their horses. On day one we did some basic flatwork and small jumping exercises to evaluate where each horse is, and on the second day we stepped it up a bit and worked on some gymnastic exercises to get the horses jumping better and work on the riders’ positions. The last day I built a course and walked it with everyone, then warmed up as if we were at a show. They all jumped around, then we raised the rails and they jumped around again.

With the dressage horses we did some stretching and suppling exercises that I’ve found work well with Thoroughbreds, like leg-yielding and basic lateral work to get the horses in a nice round shape. We did that in a big, open ring. The second day we worked on a few movements we’d find in a dressage test, then on the final day we did more specific movements and some made-up dressage tests that I critiqued.

I had a couple of dinners with all the riders which was good fun and it felt like everyone’s horses improved throughout the clinic. There was a really good assortment of horses, again the taller rangier type of horses. A lot of the horses found here in Japan are perfectly suited for a second career as riding horses.

As you can imagine  these clinics take a lot of organizing at great cost to the organizers and it’s all thanks to the JRA and Godolphin, who are passionate about finding second careers for the OTTB’s here in Japan. It’s wonderful that these organizations are taking a big interest in giving these horses a second chance.

I’m just having a quick look around Tokyo today and my flight home is this afternoon. Big thanks to Yasko, my guide, who kept me out of trouble, and Kosi who was translating for me and I’m sure is tired of listening to me talk!

It’s been a great trip and I can’t wait to come back next year.


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  1. Cynthia Lawler says:

    Safe Travels home
    Cool Pics
    Great Blog

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