What role does a strapper play in racing?

Feb 13, 2022

By Terry Kennedy

Traveling the world looking after thoroughbreds might sound like a dream, but there is a group of people who are making this dream a reality: the strapper.

Strappers look after horses. Depending on their role they may look after a single horse, though a lot of the time they have multiple horses they need to take care of.

They look after the horses in the stables, in the yards and on race day. They do everything involved in looking after the horse (or horses) assigned to them. The duties include:

  • Cleaning out the stables and yards of their horses
  • Feeding their horses
  • Grooming their horses
  • Preparing their horses for trackwork
  • Saddling and parading the horse for both trackwork and race days

A strapper’s day starts when most of us are still fast asleep and often end late into the night. It includes travel and long hours but the bond that forms between a strapper and their horse is one that is likened to best friendships or that of a child and parent. And it is this significant bond that provides the rewards that strappers come to crave.

It is little wonder that such a strong bond is formed when the horse and strapper spend so much time together. Every high and low is shared and when a strapper watches their saddled horse head to the gates it is like watching a family member.

Grooming is such a large part of a strapper’s job and they are responsible for picking up any signs of change in their horses. Grooming is not just brushing the horse, it is also about using the reactions of the horse to a physio style massage/exam each day to pick up signs of soreness or any potential issues the horse might have. Strappers watch their horse’s eyes to spot any signs of discomfort early when they are following this daily routine.

Shannon Betts, Owner and Founder of Emeran Park, is known for saying a happy horse is a fast horse. The strappers bond with their horse gives the horse so much love and attention that they can be nothing but happy. Just have a look at how close the bond is between Coral from Emeran Park and the Pierro x Cool Snitzel below:

Given the long and socially awkward hours strappers are needed at work, it takes a special kind of person who has nothing but love for the thoroughbred to become a strapper. But the positive side is that many thoroughbred lovers can travel the world working with their passion.

Many strappers work their way all over the world: from Ireland to England to the USA and Australia. And as such an integral member of the prep team strappers can make friends for life out of their workmates. We are lucky at TRL that we have some of the best strappers in the game caring for your horses! Trust us, it can go a long way in getting them that win on race day.