Off the track with Maud Aarts

Thoroughbreds are both athletic and courageous horses, with a great deal of aesthetic appeal. Although purpose-bred for racing, they hold their own in various sport horse endeavours.

Maud Aarts, whose love of horses saw her competing at top level in eventing and showjumping in Europe before settling in South Africa, believes that South African Thoroughbreds are as good as anywhere in the world. “We have access to a pool of potential competition horses who are often overlooked,” explains Maud.

For the past several months HQ has been following Maud and the Thoroughbreds she acquired out of racing. We paid Maud another visit to find out more about the progress of her horses. Cask, Pocket Filler and Northern Conquest were all successful racehorses, winning many races between them. They retired from the track fit and in good racing condition. Their musculature was, as expected, that of horses-in-training, ready to take up a barrier position in another race, but not as sport horses ready to complete a showjumping course or a dressage test. It takes time and patience to recondition a Thoroughbred both mentally and physically for a second career, and at times challenges arise in the process.

Cask coming back into work

Cask coming back into work


While hacking out in January, Cask spooked, stepped off the path and into a hole, jarring his left front leg. Although not serious, there was heat and the decision was made to rest him. Since Maud is not in favour of complete box rest unless absolutely necessary, she turned him out during the day, but in a small paddock where he could walk around.

Pocket Filler

Pocket Filler has natural cadence and rhythm

Pocket Filler has natural cadence and rhythm

Pocket Filler has matured and muscled up further. With this increased muscle and strength has come an improved frame and way of going. The additional quality to his paces shows in his length of stride and cadence as he goes about his work with willingness and a sense of enthusiasm.

“You need that ‘edge’, that extra something in order to win a championship show class and Pocket Filler has it,” she says. “He is a quality horse who is just getting better all the time. He is the type who improves with work.”

Northern Conquest

Northern Conquest is maturing into a striking-looking, English hunter-type, with a wonderful presence. He is a strong and powerful jumper, with Maud working him over gymnastic lines in his training. He has shown an affinity for cross country, enjoying jumping natural obstacles at speed. Maud describes him as an ‘interesting’ horse who needs to understand what you are asking of him before tackling something.

DSC_0812A general weekly schedule follows this pattern:

Monday – Lunging
Tuesday – Schooling
Wednesday – Hacking
Thursday – Jumping
Friday – Schooling or hacking, depending on what each horse needs
Saturday – Schooling or hacking
Sunday – Rest

It is better to ride for just 10 minutes a day if you don’t have much time, than to leave a horse and not ride or work on a day

The full article appears in the July issue of HQ.


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