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Strapper Knowledge

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Shammy Davis View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 Sep 2013 at 11:15pm
I'm doing a little research.  Was wondering what is expected in OZ and NZ with respect to basic knowledge and skill for strappers not only in training yards, at the track, but also in the breeding sheds?
 
For those of you familiar with American grooms what do you think the biggest differences in knowledge and skills are and do you think our grooms are comparable to your strappers?
 
In OZ and NZ what is next step up for a strapper.  Trainer?  Farm Manager?  Breeding Manager?  Stallion Manager?  Any or all of the above?
 
Is there a website where I seek information?  I believe OZ requires some equine certifications which is not in the USA.
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Pazman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pazman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2013 at 11:28pm
How intelligent would you need to be to do what is really doing up a belt.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Go Flash Go Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 12:12am
Surely you jest.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote VEEEIGHT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 1:23am
Yes all strappers need to hold a stablehand licence which is issued upon completion of a short course provided by certain education institutions namely TAFEs
http://www.tafesa.edu.au/xml/course/aw/aw_ELT.aspx
I guess some go on then to track riding stable foreman or branch out in other areas.
Many leave the industry after a short stint esp young females.
I think there appears to be a difference in age of the average strapper in the US when compared to OZ.
I also like the idea of "hot walkers" in the US of which we generally only have the mechanical version.
I have the impression that a "groom" in the US is held in higher regard than a "strapper" is over here.
Easily smashed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fiddlesticks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 1:33am
Pubs would go broke without strappers..
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Shammy Davis View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 3:17am
Aren't strappers, in addition to groom or stablehand duties, exercise riders?  In the USA, exercise riders only ride, for the most part.  Some exercise riders combine duties as assistant trainers.  Don't think the term strapper is commonly used anywhere but OZ and NZ.  Is that right?
 
There are no equine certification programs in the USA, other than for farriery, dentistry, and veterinarians.  General stablehands could begin work with little or no equine knowledge.  Bobby Frankel, Ron McAnaly, and others began the racehorse careers as hotwalkers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fiddlesticks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 4:21am
There is no clear definition of what a strappers duties are, they can ride work, muck out boxes, hot walk, take horses to the races, hold horses for vets, farriers etc...most live at the stables in small shared rooms with the only difference really is that some will ride work that can ride and are light enough and those that don't..

I was a strapper for around 7-8 years, in fact I was the only strapper in the first yard I worked in..12 horses, just me and the trainer, I'd muck out in the morning, he would saddle up a few, we'd walk them to the track and tie them off and wait for our work riders (these were jockeys) to come n ride them work...work, roll, hose, wipe down and take them back to the yard and grab another two and bring back for more of the same till all done...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 10:05am
To ride work they also need to complete another TAFE course Smile
Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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Shammy Davis View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 10:13am
What does a strapper get paid?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Browndog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 10:30am
Everything you need to know

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nocturnal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 10:33am
An old analogy is... if jockeys were a foot taller they would be sweeping gutters '.. Or become strappers
The only problem with backing winners ? You never have enough on....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fiddlesticks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 10:57am
Originally posted by Browndog Browndog wrote:

Everything you need to know



Without looking at BD's link at the current award, I wouldn't know for sure but when I was working yards I'd get paid cash paid directly in the hand..arround $230.00 at my first yard but I lived away from the stables so rent and utilities etc had to come out of that..second yard lived on the site and earned about the same, you got an extra $25 for taking one to the track...I'm sure they get much more these days...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 11:07am
Originally posted by Nocturnal Nocturnal wrote:

An old analogy is... if jockeys were a foot taller they would be sweeping gutters '.. Or become strappers
 
Don't hold your strappers in high regard do you?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 11:09am
Originally posted by Fiddlesticks Fiddlesticks wrote:

Originally posted by Browndog Browndog wrote:

Everything you need to know



Without looking at BD's link at the current award, I wouldn't know for sure but when I was working yards I'd get paid cash paid directly in the hand..arround $230.00 at my first yard but I lived away from the stables so rent and utilities etc had to come out of that..second yard lived on the site and earned about the same, you got an extra $25 for taking one to the track...I'm sure they get much more these days...
 
Thanks BD.
 
Fiddles was this all pre-phobia?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Go Flash Go Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 11:37am
There are people more qualified than l on here (like actual strappers) but have seen the work that goes in at the races and used to watch the horses getting saddled up etc early race days.
 
WRT next step up - seen a few strappers go on to become horse trainers some good some just glorified.
 
This could be a good thread in the making as there's a few discussion points that haven't really ever been discussed on TBV (surprisingly)
 
Fact is the industry would grind to a halt obviously without them and apart from  a cred now and then in an acceptance speech not much is heard aboput what they do.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Campaspe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 9:07pm
Forgive me, Shammy (and others!), if most of what I'm saying is stating the bleeding obvious, but here goes.
 
The term 'strapper' generally refers to a horse's raceday attendant.  Day-to-day staff are stablehands or stable employees.  Of course, most of the time they are one and the same person, but there are plenty of stablehands who never do raceday work, and sometimes stables (usually small stables) will hire a casual strapper for raceday work - either because they are a trainer who does all there own work, and want someone to strap the horse so they can speak to the jockey and owners, or perhaps because they have a horse who needs a stronger strapper, have several horses racing at different venues on the same day, multiple horses in a race, etc.
 
Naturally the setup of each stable varies depending on number of horses, how hands-on the trainer is (do they ride their own work?) etc, and that will reflect on what is required of a stablehand, and therefore the knowledge and skill-set they require.  A larger stable will usually have different individuals operating as track-riders and ground-staff in the morning, simply because the time constraints require riders to get off one horse and straight on the next, without stopping to hose and saddle, etc.  Smaller stables might hire one or two staff who do everything - saddle, ride, hose, saddle the next etc.  Then there are the freelance trackriders - not always jockeys - who are paid per ride and riding is their one and only role - they are not expected to do any sort of ground work, unless they are hired on a casual basis to help out.
 
Most stable hands will need a good basic knowledge of horses when they are hired - at least enough to be able to muck-out, hose and saddle unsupervised after an initial introduction and perhaps some practice learning the difference between a track-saddle and an all-purpose saddle.  Having said that, there is nothing stopping someone who has never laid a finger on a horse being hired to work in a stable, if the stable in question is happy to teach them from scratch.  Yes, all stablehands are required to complete a Certificate level TAFE course, but as I understand it, anyone who has never been licenced before has twelve months to complete the course after being licenced.
 
From this basic beginning, the skills specific to a racing stable will be taught.  Their natural aptitude and desire to advance will dictate what direction their career goes.  Some will remain as stablehands, valuable cogs in the wheel - the first person to see a horse in the morning, the person who monitors their recovery post-work, the person who leads them from place to place all the time and is likely to pick up any hitch in their stride or change in their demeanor most quickly.  A good stablehand is invaluable.  Others will progress through the ranks, become stable foremen, then assistant trainers, and perhaps end up striking out on their own.  Others will come to their senses LOL and get a job where they don't have to get out of bed before dawn and spend their day dealing with horse poo, sweat, blood, dirt, teeth, hooves and short-tempered horses (and trainers).
 
Senior stablehands will be expected to be able to deal with minor injuries, identify when a horse is 'not right' and respond accordingly, communicate well with the trainer and be willing and able to interact with owners, who often want to speak to the person who takes care of their horse.  They also need to be observant, able to time-manage and prioritise, and show some initiative to keep the operation running smoothly.
 
On raceday, strappers are responsible for the presentation of the horse, for warming-up the horse before saddling, and usually for any sort of taping-up or bandaging that may be required.  The trainer, foreman or senior stable-rep will collect the saddle before the race, and the strapper will assist in saddling the horse.  Then, of course, they are in charge of controlling the horse in the mounting-yard, which requires a bit of common sense and peripheral vision because there are often a dozen horses and three times that many people in an enclosed space, and it doesn't take much to cause a traffic jam or have horses going every which-way.  No one wants to be kicked. 
 
After the race, the strapper will take the horse back to the horse stalls, or 'stripping sheds', change the bridle for a headcollar and rearing bit, remove any tapes or bandages, then cool the horse down, hose it, scrape it, rub it down.  In my case I always take the horse's heart-rate after I have rubbed it down, as a guide to how it's recovering.  You also need to pay attention to how hard the horse is blowing (puffing), whether it's 'come up over the bum' - the muscles over the rump rise up either side of the spine, an indication of fitness - is the horse distressed - has it sweated again after being hosed off, is it kicking or biting at it's stomach, is it's breathing not recovering at the expected rate, is it pawing the ground - are there any unusual noises (hiccups or gulps indicating a breathing issue, breaking wind behind), has it got any cuts or scrapes anywhere.  All of these are things you would report to the trainer.  The strapper will also give the horse a drink.
 
Then the horse may be required for a post-race swab.  Once the horse has cooled sufficiently, the strapper takes it to the swab-box and hands it over to the swabbing attendant.  The vet prepares the receptacle - a long-handled saucepan - and hands it over to the swabbing attendant, who whistles to encourage the horse to wee.  If succesful, the 'jackpot' is caught in the saucepan and handed to the vet, who then pours some into two containers, seals the containers, and then seals the containers (including a third container holding the solution which was used to rinse the saucepan and each individual container to prevent contamination) into a plastic bag.  If the horse won't wee, a blood sample is taken and six tubes sealed into the bag, three in each container.  The strapper's role in all this is to observe the process and sign-off that everything was hunky-dory.
 
Then the strapper takes the horse back to its stall, prepares it to go home (travel boots, rug, etc), and loads it onto the float or truck to leave. 
 
Not many strappers gain a high profile.  Only those lucky enough to regularly strap a champion will be known even to the wider racing community outside their stomping ground, much less the general public.  Claire Bird - trackrider, stablehand and strapper of Sunline - turned her moment in the Sun (pardon the pun) into one of the best gigs in racing - racing manager for Gerry Harvey.
 
Ok, so I've gotten fairly long and involved, and probably not answered Shammy's original question, so apologies again. Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AussieOi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 9:25pm
When I was working as a stablehand back in 2007 I was getting $600 clear a week though that was with a day and 1 arvo off. (so either sun off and an arvo - or if you worked sunday you got 2 arvos off)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fiddlesticks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 9:57pm
Originally posted by Shammy Davis Shammy Davis wrote:

Originally posted by Fiddlesticks Fiddlesticks wrote:

Originally posted by Browndog Browndog wrote:

Everything you need to know



Without looking at BD's link at the current award, I wouldn't know for sure but when I was working yards I'd get paid cash paid directly in the hand..arround $230.00 at my first yard but I lived away from the stables so rent and utilities etc had to come out of that..second yard lived on the site and earned about the same, you got an extra $25 for taking one to the track...I'm sure they get much more these days...
 
Thanks BD.
 
Fiddles was this all pre-phobia?


not sure what you mean Pre Phobia...but it was from 84 to 91


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Toll Road Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 10:41pm
In Victoria a trainer could pay to send their track riders and stable hands to do the Tafe course. Then after all the stable hands had finished the course the trainer got money off the government for training and so on of his/her staff. I believe one ex high profile trainer from down Mornington way trained up a lot of staff and got a nice big cheque from the government
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 2013 at 10:52am
Is TAFE only required for racing stablehands or for all stablehands?  Many "all" disciplines and breed farms etc..
 
Don't understand the government stipend to trainers for training stablehands?  If you hire an untrained stablehand, the government supplements you?
 
Do trainers normally locate at tracks like in the USA or in yards like in the UK?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 2013 at 10:54am
Many "all" disciplines and breed farms etc..
Should read:  Meaning "all" disciplines and breed farms etc.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Campaspe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 2013 at 11:49am
To work with a registered horse on a registered training premises you have to be licenced with the state racing body - for insurance purposes. The TAFE course applies only to staff wishing to be licenced, so racing staff.

Most trainers are at tracks, or truck their horses in from their property to the nearest track to train. Some trainers have private facilities of their own, but they are expensive to set up and maintain, so are the domain of the 'big' stables.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote subastral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 2013 at 11:59am
Originally posted by Pazman Pazman wrote:

How intelligent would you need to be to do what is really doing up a belt.


Change one of the vowels, and your subject knowledge increases substantially
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shammy Davis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2013 at 4:50am
Originally posted by Campaspe Campaspe wrote:

To work with a registered horse on a registered training premises you have to be licenced with the state racing body - for insurance purposes. The TAFE course applies only to staff wishing to be licenced, so racing staff.

Most trainers are at tracks, or truck their horses in from their property to the nearest track to train. Some trainers have private facilities of their own, but they are expensive to set up and maintain, so are the domain of the 'big' stables.
 
There is a warmblood registry.  So the stablehand needs a license?
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