Wednesday, January 14, 2015

For Miss Nicole :) Racing Lesson 2.5

This was originally a comment reply, oh my did it escalate.
Nicole Sharpe from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Maintenance asked for more (LINKY!) :) Terrible decision Love hehe but here it is!

So say you are going into a turn, always left of course, so you want a left lead.  At the elbow, say the half mile pole, you would pick up your outside rein while holding the left to TRY and stay in your lane, and pull their head outwards, to the right, dramatically enough (Hopefully it just takes a slight bump, nothing more) to make it impossible to stay on the right lead.  Some horses (especially the ladies) you simply squeeze your fingers while others you have to haul back on.

OR you might take up your inside rein and draw the horse's nose inward.    It's easier but they tend to fall into the turn a bit harder making the situation more dangerous.  You ask them to step in to the turn by leaning into your inside stirrup and pulling on your inside rein.  These horses know they need to change leads, they are just waiting for you to tell them.  Also if you're not careful they over respond and will come over on anyone or thing in their way...including a rail  :X  The problem with this is that if you don't know your horse well he might come in too "hard", which basically means he will shift over too far and interfere with another horse's movement, which is literally disastrous.  Really.  When a horse clip heels they stumble at best, go down (IE BOOM! at 35 miles a hour) and trip other horses (because that's what happens when you ride up someones butt that fast), and then everyone goes Boom.  No one wants to Boom.

I literally made one of my best friends Boom.  Talk about freaking terrible.

So depending on the trainer (which you learn patterns of each & how to judge different horses quickly) You might go into the turn and shift your weight out, pulling on the outside rein to keep the horse from falling in too hard, or shift your weight in with outside rein OR any combination of outside/inside rein and outside/inside weight.  THERE IS NO LEG.

So needless to say, lead changes in a race are a jerk.

You take a step out of your lane someone goes boom, end of story.  There is both inside rein and outside rein involved ...just a great deal of both.  Also horses that are "rank" (Difficult) or sore, you really have to literally throw them onto a lead sometimes.  You can do this by catching them off guard while they are running (TERRIBLE IDEA) and throwing your weight around abruptly along with pulling in or out.  Some horses become so ouchy that they are afraid to switch leads.  As much as I hate to say it, most OTTBs are one of the two and usually on the cheaper side of racing, which means typically less TLC and worse riders that do not give one flying crap about the beasties they work with.

Grey beastie was lucky, his trainer and owner loved him.  His trainer was a woman (Rare) and a fabulous one at that, who loves her animals and treats them the way they should be, she also helps run the local OTTB rescue.  That's not common though, most throw their unwanted beasties into the rescue simply to be rid of them.  These other people (Mind you there is plenty of fabulous people like grey beastie's trainer out there) also don't care about the jockeys that risk their lives to ride the animals they do not take of and do not prepare their horses well for the situation, so you really do have to experiment and feel out the individual horse.  In the post parade or warm-up prior to race I would play with a horse's mouth to see how he responded.  If I tug here what happens? If I throw my weight here, what will he do?

Yes, there are variables...many variables.  Endless Quantum Physics...Quantum Riding! New field!


  1. This is amazing thank you!! And it's unlocked a BIG question I had about my pony!

    So last Spring M was very, very stupidly spooky regarding one corner of the arena and tracking right especially would bend towards the scary shit outside the arena and fall to the right inside. I would strongly bend him back to the right, flex his head back to the right, and tug on the left rein and TA-DAH! perfect clean lead change! I was like WTF dude, why are you doing that? I figured it was his magic change button but I didn't realise how MUCH it was the magic change button!

    Now, I just need to figure out the magic change button the right because I KNOW that baby is in there!!!! :D

  2. haha quantum riding - i love it!! sounds like it needs a huge level of coordination lol

  3. Love this! So interesting! Love the inside information. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The trainers that 'throw away' horses make me so sad, I have to say though that many of them that I am around go to great lengths to find new homes, CANTER and the RRTP seem to really be making some progress! You have the best descriptions of how things are on the back of racehorse. We will wait all morning at the track for the right gallop person, it truly makes such a big difference.

  5. This entire concept sounds terrifying to me! Eeep.