We have our well known Ditcheat Hill, flat gallop, loop and deep sand canter gallops to get our horses fit
Our excellent gallops give plenty of variation and with their superb surfaces get horses fit and safe from injury.
DITCHEAT HILL GALLOP
When Paul started training at Manor Farm Stables in 1991 this was the only gallop at his disposal. Now 25 years on, the hill gallop continues to play a huge part in the daily routine training of the horses, building their strength and taking their fitness to an extremely high level.
We turn over all of our gallops annually, and in the summer of 2016 we topped up the hill gallop with a Martin Collins surface designed specifically for that very gallop.
The hill is at the bedrock of pretty much all of our horses training routines and provides a place where high quality interval training can take place, getting great fitness results with no speed involved, taking all the pressure of training off their front legs.
At the start of the season our horses will canter once up the hill before increasing their intensity and eventually ending up doing as many as three canters in one session of training.
The gallop itself is constructed with Martin Collins EcoTrack surface. It is six inches thick throughout and is laid on a porous Tarmac base. The gallop is fenced and white railed both at the start and on the brow of the hill. The horses commence training for each season in July performing one canter a day. They then build up and increase work to do a maximum of three repetitions daily through the following weeks and months. This intense interval work builds up stamina as well as muscle and is the basis of all our horses’ work.
As part of the on-going improvements here at Ditcheat, during summer 2011 the Hill Gallop had a top up of three inches of Martin Collins’ EcoTrack.
Originally made in 1995 the flat gallop is where we do all the speed work with our horses. Just over half a mile long the flat gallop is again a Martin Collins surface and a place where we can not only sprint our older horses we can also educate the younger horses introducing them to galloping at speed alongside one another.
In the height of the season our strings will spend on an average of two days a week on the flat gallop. Not only does it provide a place where we can work the horses, it complements the hill gallop perfectly, being just long enough for the horses to have a really good piece of work but not long enough that they will ever leave their race at home.
Dead flat, the gallop is railed from end-to-end and bends left and right along its path. It was originally a deep sand gallop but was upgraded to a surface similar to the Hill Gallop over time.
As part of the on-going improvements here at Ditcheat, during the summer of 2011, the Flat Gallop underwent a full surface change and now consists of the market leading Geltrack from Martin Collins. We also reshaped and re-drained each end to make the gallops 100% weatherproof.
Given the quality of the surface and the excellent lie of the gallop we can machine rotavate the surface to suit our needs. If we want a softer footing we simply power harrow the gallop to a deeper level thus making the horses work harder without needing to gallop distance. The flat gallop helps horses retain speed and develop their breathing by going quicker than they would up the hill.
As a horse’s fitness builds up from using the hill gallop, we introduce the flat gallop gradually and at full fitness, horses would normally use it, on average, two times per week.
Located at the end of our flat gallop the loop was installed in 2014 and very quickly became a high class schooling facility, 400 metres in distance, the gallop is the shape of an athletics track with a Martin Collins surface, creating a safe environment to school our horses over two miles, adding another dimension to our training regime.
It is not just a jumping facility however, with the loop gallop we are able to train our horses at a slower pace over longer distances teaching head strong horses to relax and settle with their rider, vital in order to succeed in national hunt racing.
The role of the loop gallop varies at different stages of the season, first of all using for weight loss and stamina building and through the height of the season it is incorporated into our fast work days, the horses completing some steady cantering before they sprint home.
The Gallop is proving to be a great addition to our facilities adding a new dimension to an already very successful training programme for our horses. It is also versatile, mainly used for steady continuous training as well as providing an excellent all weather schooling ring for hurdlers and chasers. When schooling, the horses are able to jump many obstacles at speed in one session on a consistent surface even when the grass facilities are not fit for use.
DEEP SAND CANTER
Built in the summer of 2016 this surface, made entirely from washed beach sand, is twelve inches deep and is made only for steady cantering. It works perfectly with our other loop canter with the two running directly alongside one another.
This gallop is at its busiest in the months of August, September, and early October when we are working hard to get the horses fitness level up in preparation for the season that lies ahead. In that time we frequently use the gallop for long slow canters that gets the horses relaxed, breathing well and working hard on a surface that will not cause any jar or concussion to their joints whilst training for a longer period of time. When schooling on the outer loop this gallop also provides the perfect arena in which to warm the horses up ready for their jumping sessions.
This gallop requires a lot of upkeep and work but is well worth the effort due to the excellent results it helps to provide.