In The Spotlight | Love The Racehorse with Sam England

Features | 23rd August 2021

Trainer Sam England talks about why she wanted to be involved with the week‐long celebration of racehorses and some of the secrets to her success.

Sam England is a dual‐purpose trainer based in Guiseley near Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Although predominantly a jumps trainer, enjoying plenty of success with the likes of Ask Paddy and Chef D’Oeuvre, she recently won the Silver Trophy over 6f on the Flat at Ripon with course specialist Mark’s Choice.

She has proved most popular with the racing public as the guest list to visit her stables as part of National Racehorse Week is now full.

Why did you want to get involved with National Racehorse Week?

It’s great to show people around the yard so they can see how well our horses are looked after. Horses are such amazing animals, so beautiful and kind, it’s just nice to have the opportunity to show them off.

We’re proud of our horses. I’ve been around horses all my life and you don’t become involved with them if you don’t love them.

What’s they key to training racehorses and how important is their welfare?

Keeping them fit, healthy and happy is really important. It doesn’t really matter how fit you get them if they’re not healthy and happy they won’t run fast. You’ve just got to do everything you can to keep them happy.

What does an average day look like for a horse in your yard?

It’s get up, feed the horses, ride them out, turn them out in the paddocks, muck them out, feed them again. If we’ve got runners we obviously have to take them to the races and make sure they’re well looked after once they’re back home.

It is hard work but we do it because we love these incredible creatures.

Do any of your horses have interesting quirks or habits? How do you tailor your training to accommodate the different traits and personalities of your horses?

You have to get to know the horses and find out what they like and what they don’t like. We have some horses who are claustrophobic, so they are trained completely out in the paddock and they would never come into a box.

We’ve got horses that like company so they’re in stables where the walls are low so they can be with their friends at all times. There are other horses who just like being on their own so they’re in an outside box to get some peace and quiet.

They’re like people, they have their likes and dislikes, you just need to find out what they are. It’s quite easy for us to get to know the horses as we’re a small yard with a small team so we pick up their traits and their habits quite quickly.

They’re certainly not all the same but we’ve got a pretty good bunch at the moment.

Sam England horses

How do the horses relax at home when they’re having a break between races/training?

They have a lot of downtime. Every horse goes out every day and they pretty much spend all day in the field. Even in the winter we put rugs on them and they go out as it keeps them happy.

They’re herd animals so they’re designed to live with other horses. Once they get used to going out it’s really good for them, both mentally and physically. We’ve got five that live outside all the time because they don’t like being in a stable.

They don’t perform when they’re living in a stable because they’re not happy. It’s a lot more labour intensive as you’re obviously turning them out and then bringing them in.

If you ride a horse out, put it back on the horse walker and back in its stable, it’s done for the day. Our way takes more effort.

How many different people in a variety of jobs work at the yard?

We’ve got two full‐time and five part‐time members of staff. Then you have the vet, the physio, the farrier, the list just goes on.

The farrier comes in twice a week to make sure the horses’ feet and shoes are good and the physio is in roughly once a week. It’s all to help make sure the horses are in tip‐top condition. 

When horses retire, how important is it they are given a good home?

It’s very important to me that they find a good home. We’ve had horses who haven’t had a particularly good racing career and it’s always good to let them go to do something else they enjoy.

We’ve had them go eventing, we’ve had a couple go to play polocrosse, which is a combination of polo and lacrosse, others have gone to be happy hacks.

One of the young girls who works for me has got one of our retired racehorses. She spends all her spare time brushing him, pampering him and loving him. It’s nice to find them something they enjoy doing so they can get loved and looked after.