Exploring a new equestrian culture in Malta

Few things are more exciting than traveling and working abroad. I enjoy meeting new people and discovering new equestrian cultures. Thanks to my Maltese friend Naomi Richardson, an equine physiotherapist, I had the fantastic opportunity to work in Malta for a few days the other week.

I stayed on the island for four days and treated mostly trotters. It was a hot week and temperatures reached almost 40 degrees, but nothing can beat a swim in the turquoise sea after a day of work.

Racing in Malta is a very social phenomenon, and it is lived in a very genuine and passionate way. There are a few stables around the racetrack, but most horses are kept in the outskirts of towns and villages, in small farms or in the garden behind the house, and from what I saw, they are treated with love and respect.

The horses are imported from all over Europe – from Italy to Norway. In Malta, every horse seems to be pride and joy of the whole family. It is normal to rock up in a farm to see owners and trainers with friends and relatives outside the stable, having good time around a table with some food and drinks. And the horses seem to enjoy the relaxed and joyful atmosphere.

Racing farms and stables are beautifully and uniquely decorated with winning pictures of their four-legged inhabitants. The pictures remind visitors of how important these animals are for their owners and trainers.

In the very early morning and evening, when the temperature is more pleasant, it is normal to meet racing horses having a jog around the village – or a swim in the sea. If you want to see something out of the ordinary you can drive down to Marsaxlokk Bay where an area has been designated as an official swimming zone for horses by the Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Welfare in 2018.

Here, a guy is giving the service to swim out in the bay with each horse. Each horse has their own swim exercise plan. Horses are coupled with a heart rate monitor to check their fitness and the trainers will receive detailed feedback on the training. Swim training is available twice a week in any weather condition, as long as the water is not too choppy. Horses really enjoy their day out in the sea, as you can see from the video!

“The horse comes first” is a quote I have heard so many times, and it is true for the horses that I had the opportunity to see in Malta. The trainers and owners put attention and effort to make their horses as happy as possible and that’s why I had so many fantastic horses to look after.

Malta is a busy place where people work hard, and the traffic sometimes is crazy. It is in the early morning and evening you can get the best from the island. The view from the cliffs is something unique, and so is the colour of the sea. Malta is a fascinating island where Arab and English cultures mix perfectly. Maltese people are so welcoming, and they always have a smile for you.

I will go back in the winter for other new horses and to check some that I treated this time… and I can’t wait.

I wish you all a fantastic summer!

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