Racehorse trainers commonly are responsible for the day-to-day preparations that it takes to train a horse to run races. These can be flat races — races run on turf, synthetic or dirt tracks — as well as steeplechases, or races run in combination with large fences that the horses must jump. Racehorse trainers take responsibility for deciding how the horse is cared for, which includes the animal’s feeding and grooming regimen, and particularly its exercise schedule.
A racehorse trainer’s job description includes deciding how the horse is prepared for a race. Examples of this include how far the horse should breeze, or run for practice leading up to a race. Each day incorporates strategic training plans and practices for the horse, set in place by the racehorse trainer. The trainer also decides at what age to start training the horse as well as what races to enter the horse in, how many races the horse should run each season and how much rest the horse requires between races.
Racehorse trainers often are hired by racehorse owners or are horse owners themselves, and they must not only understand what is required to successfully train a horse to run a race, they also must understand the aspects of business strategies in the racehorse industry. Often a business partner with horse owners, the racehorse trainer has considerable clout in deciding whom to hire as the horse’s grooms, exercise riders and jockey.
Becoming a racehorse trainer takes notable skill and knowledge of horses, including racing breeds such as Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. Many successful racehorses are not only trained well but have strategic breeding pedigrees, which the racehorse trainer must understand and follow in order to choose a winning prospect. In-depth knowledge of horses, their health and well-being, intricate training strategies and other competing racehorses is required to be a successful horse trainer. All trainers typically must be licensed in the geographical area where they train, which might require passing a licensing tests.
A knowledgeable, industry-savvy racehorse trainer can lead a lucrative career. Most leading trainers earn a substantial amount by taking a percentage of their horse’s winnings. The trainer's career earnings depend on various aspects, such as the overall value of the horse itself, the level of competition and how much prize money is involved in each race that is run.