What is ‘schooling in public’?

In horse racing parlance, ‘schooling’ is term used to describe the physical and mental preparation

of a horse to jump obstacles – that is, hurdles or fences, depending upon its chosen discipline – on the racecourse. Indeed, regular schooling at home is an integral part of the training regime of any hurdler or steeplechaser, whether to teach jumping skills in the first place, provide periodic reminders of what’s involved and/or to keep the horse sharp, fit and ready to do itself justice.

By contrast, schooling in public refers to the practice of educating, teaching or training horses to race over obstacles not on the gallops at home, but on the racecourse in a real, ‘live’ race. As such, schooling in public is heavily frowned upon, and regulated against, by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

The Rules of Racing state that every horse must be ridden to achieve in such a way as the ‘best possible placing’ and asked for a ‘timely, real or substantial effort’. Racecourse stewards will hold an inquiry into the running and riding of any horse suspected of being tenderly handled; typical penalties for schooling in public are a £3,000 fine for the trainer, a 14-day suspension for the jockey and a 40-day ban for the horse concerned.