Check out this training facility in Japan

So I fly regularly through Tokyo for work, and our landing approach to Narita takes us over these facilities, and I always wondered what they are. I suspected some kind of horse facility but they seemed so massive that I doubted that. So on my last trip a couple of weeks ago, here’s the pic I took from the plane, and using landmarks in the photo, I managed to find it on Google Earth to zoom in.
I was wrong to doubt myself–turns out it’s a Japan Racing Association training facility. Stable capacity of over 2,300 horses, on 550+ acres. And check out the variety of tracks.
I know nothing about the Japan racing scene (is it high quality? horribly abusive? I have no idea) but regardless, this facility is pretty mind-boggling.


(Anyone else have the habit of scanning the area that you’re flying over, to spot horse properties? :smile: )

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Holy crap, talk about needing the horse to lead from a golf cart to get anything done! Bet you earn your spot in those “close” barns LOL

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Wow!

Just Wow!

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That’s amazing! I have no idea about Japan’s racing/equestrian industry but I’m always scoping out horse property from the air too. Driving past barns is more of a hazard…

Ohhh…I follow a bunch of equine architecture accounts on Instagram and one of them Designed the Hong Kong Jockey Club that houses 1600 horses in 1 and 2 story barns. So crazy what they can do with so many horses in such a small space. I mean, 550 acres isn’t small, but that’s still a ton of stuff to put there. Wow.

JRA is not horribly abusive. Quite the opposite. Japanese horsemen on the whole take exceptional care of their animals. Aftercare is a problem in Japan being a small island where most people live in urban areas, but otherwise the average care far exceeds what we provide here because there is so much more money in racing there.

All JRA race horses are required to live at one of two training facilities. They don’t live “on the backside” like American horses. JRA provides transportation for the horses to and from the racetracks. That is the Miho training center, which equipped with multiple surfaces for training, trails, pools, high tech equipment, and state of the art veterinary facilities.

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That’s incredible! I bet they have one heck of a manure management plan.

Not a turn out paddock in sight? I guess people only care if show horses dont get turn out?

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I could be wrong, but that’s what I assumed the wooded/clear (and free of vehicles) little square lots were at the top rightish of the photo. Hard to tell.

There are apparently ~2000 horses at this facility -where are they housed? Maybe that’s what those little rows are on the top left. Texarkana mentions that they are transported/don’t live on the backside… maybe we just don’t see the paddocks from this photo. I doubt they get zero turnout.

There is limited turnout on site. There are some small paddocks in the infields and small round pens.

There are a number of farms local to both Miho and Ritto where horses get turnout, especially since space is at a premium at the two training centers. Trainers are capped at 20-some stalls I believe, so horses come and go quite frequently. Yet they have to be at the training facility for an extended period of time prior to any racing activity.

Japanese horsemen have their horses out of the stall a lot more frequently than the average North American racing or show barn. You would have to go somewhere like Fair Hill to experience anything similar here.

In the early 00s, a horse I helped care for ran in the Japan Cup. I didn’t get to go, but I heard the experience was incredible. They wouldn’t even let us ship in any of our own supplies beyond tack: we said what we needed and they provided every single item at their cost. They are adamant about racing being clean and reputable, so they micromanage everything in a good way, even if it means sourcing specific North American hay on their own dime for a single competitor.

The test to become a licensed trainer is supposedly so hard that people spend the first 20 years of their careers as horsemen trying to pass it.

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love to hear this!

So cool to hear 1st hand knowledge. All around this Miho facility (there was another smaller one, right nearby), I saw stables with lots of automatic walkers. It’s fun to fly overhead and get a sense of horsekeeping practices, layouts, etc. I swear I can spot a horse farm from 30,000 ft in the air. LOL