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What's your view on training young Thoroughbreds for racing?

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    04-04-2009, 11:44 AM
  #11
Started
I wrote a rather long article on this ages back, however can't find at the moment so will post a summary. In short, the age they are started isn't as much of the issue as how they are trained. Training in the US consists of an all too common combination of overprotection coupled with overuse causing the increase in catastrophic breakdowns we've seen on US tracks. In short, overprotection means the running of horses on groomed surfaces, with legs wrapped under controlled environements. Overuse is just that - doing something too much.

In the UK and much of Europe, many horses are trained on varying terrain, gallops consist of gallops in all sorts of footing up and down hills, across countryside, and horses are turned out as well as exercised under saddle. This allows the bones & stay apparatus to remodel properly building up a load tolerance proportionate to the task at hand - racing.

When horses are overprotected and overused, the end result is actually weaker legs leaving the horse more prone to catastrophic breakdowns. The horse conditioned on groomed surfaces only is more likely to become injured due to stress or even due to a rainy day or slightly different track conditions, than the horse that has had time to adapt and adjust over different footing and terrain. Play time/turn out is also important as it not only allows the horse to expel excess energy, but it also allows the horse to move in ways that it would not do so under saddle under regular circumstances, thus further building up strength in the body and supporting structures.

There have been studies that show horses started at 2 have no different long term implications to soundness than those started at 3 IF THEY WERE STARTED PROPERLY. That doesn't mean started at 1 and a half, saddle tossed on, and galloped a few times before shipping to the track. Age is not as important (within reason) as workload and the training to get a horse to a proper workloard. That said, a horse properly conditioned for a racing workload from younger age (properly started at two) will need a few years to build up to full racing capacity which WOULD ideally have them starting to race around 3, building up to full capacity around 4.

Hope that makes sense! And I'm all for the triple crown being moved to a 4 year old set. I see a lot of horses not running til they are 4 these days which is nice.
     
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    04-04-2009, 07:31 PM
  #12
Started
So I have 2 OTTB's (as you can tell from my signature) and I was so blessed to get them both from the same trainer- he is VERY good with the young ones and doesn't push them to far.

Maddy, my 5 yr old got crammed in a race off the start and from then on wasn't interested in racing. I came across her and have been blessed every day for the last 2 years by her.

Taylor, my 3 yr old was too slow as well and you would never know it cause man she FLYS around the pasture- I got her about a month and a half ago.

With Maddy I took it very slow, building a relationship with her before I just jumped on her. I have thought about selling her but can't bring myself to do it- she is my baby and I have re-trained her and she is a doll! She has such a solid great foundation on her and wants to please me. I think I will have her for life!

Taylor has had a month to just play. She gets out everyday to run around the pasture and two days ago was backed for the 1st time since I got her. Just for like 5 min and it was walking only. I want her to last- so there is no need to rush it.

I don't understand the racing world but like I said I found a great trainer and am so blessed that he cared about both the mares I got from him. (with Taylor he was paying to feed her out of his pocket b/c the owners didn't want her anymore) ... I also don't get the "one year older on Jan. 1" because Maddy wasn't born till the middle of May- that is almost 6 months of life she would have been robbed of if I went by that rule!

I don't know that is just my 2 cents :)
     
    04-04-2009, 11:00 PM
  #13
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotreddun    
Many people (and not just TB owners...think QH reining futurities) think, "Why feed a horse for 4 years with it doing/working/earning zero $...when I can break it when its a yearling...have it competing when its 2...sell it when its 3...off my feed bill...$$...in my pocket."(
Exactly. It is all about money. Although starting them before they are 2 is way too young especially for such a stressful sport, it is not the only reason for the horses who break down. Just think, the cannon bone on a horse is not much different in diameter than the human long bones but they generally carry 8 to 10 times more weight and compound that with the force of running 40 mph, that is a lot of pounds per square inch on such small bones. Most papered horses in every breed have been bred down so much that they have these tiny bones and crappy feet and hereditary conditions that should never have been allowed to be bred in the first place. TB's are bred for smaller bones and flatter feet because it makes them more aerodynamic and so they can run faster, the breeders don't care about longevity, they care about speed. Trying to break speed records constantly and doing whatever they think they have to to do it. For me, the TB breed reached it's peak with Secretariat and has been going down ever since. Wow, sorry to get way off topic. Back on..... Yes, if they would wait until they are 3 and 4 to back them and no racing until they were 5, you would see lots more TB's winning and fewer getting hurt and they would be running longer. Instead of being retired at 4 and 5 after just a couple of years racing, we would see horses being retired after 10 when they have been running for 5 or 6 years. There are very few who are able to race into their older years and remain sound, but they do exist.
     
    04-05-2009, 07:44 PM
  #14
Foal
How about instead of attacking the trainers that race these 2 and 3 year olds. You consider the tracks who write the classes?? Go get a racing program and check to see how much the 2 year old race goes for, then look at say a $10,000 claimer that is mostly filled with horses 5 and up and see how much they go for! Huge difference.

All the money to be made is for horses aged 2 to 4. So its not the trainers and owners to be blamed. This is a business and in order to make money you need your horses to race where the money is.

Of course you will find plenty of trainers that will agree with you in saying the horses would be sounder for longer if they were started later but knowing that does not change the fact that if your going for the big $ you need to get to the track at 2!

So who should we be attacking??????
     
    04-05-2009, 10:08 PM
  #15
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah Murphy    
So who should we be attacking??????
No one! :p attacking will get us nowhere =)

I knew it was the Industry that was setting the standards for the age, not the trainers themselves. As you said, im sure there are plenty-o-race horse trainers that feel like ripping their heart out when they see a horse that has the potential to be an AWESOME race horse broke WAY too early and ruined.

At the same time, the Owners, Breeders, and Trainers know what to look for in an "instant gratification" Thoroughbred. They know that the finer bones don't hold up as long, but to some of these owners/breeders/trainers, it doesnt matter. Whatever will get the money in their pockets faster is the way to go.

It kinda reminds me of HYPP in halter horses... a N/H (disease carrying) horse will muscle up with minimal to no physical workouts.. whereas a N/N (disease free) horse takes LOTS of training every.single.day to even come close to having the body that the diseased horses have. Some people go out and buy the N/H horses and breed the N/H horses so they can own and show multiple horses without having to pay people to put the extensive workouts into each one.

Some people who Own and Breed race horses don't really care about the horse aspect. Its about the status and the money to them.

Again, I know not everyone is like that... but sadly, I see more of the money munchers than the considerate horse people.

Oh, and welcome to The Horse Forum!! =)
     
    04-06-2009, 12:40 AM
  #16
Yearling
Woo! Do we have a LOT of opinions being thrown around here, by people who've never been on the track. ;) I used to ride/train racehorses and OTTBs with a jockey, and have been 'backstage' on the philly race track plenty of times. So I haven't just talked to people or watched the internet; I've been there.


Skippy!:

I kinda think that if we let them grow up more, we wouldnt see tragedies like Eight Belles, Barbaro, Ruffian, etc. Furthermore, im not sure if this was true or not.. but I heard that Steroids are "not illegal" in the Race Horse world. That kinda ticks me off (if its true)... so the people who choose to -not- drug their horse probably wont have a winning horse.. either its mandatory, or against the rules in my opinion.

I'm sure some steroids are legal in racing--just like some steroids are legal in barrel racing. It's amazing what the barrel racers are allowed to take and still compete, so don't slam racing like they're the only ones. ;) Drugs usually play a BIG role in the smaller cheap races with the crap horses--they're on every thing imaginable; often times their nerves are blocked so they can't feel pain when they're running.

And for those who say "But they LOVE to run!!"


Some of them do love to run. Some of them love to race, love winning and being in the front. And some trainers don't whip the crap out of them--as I recall, Seabiscuits FIRST trainer didn't like whipping horses and had fired jockeys for it. Seabiscuit was one of those horses who he couldn't figure out, and ended up trying the whip as a last resort--and Seabiscuits first trainer was a VERY Big Name kind of guy.

He MUST run the circle. Counter-Clockwise. Always.

Not really. Horses run the turns on the left lead, and then switch to the right lead for the straights--so it's not like they're permanently running and beating down the same legs for one lead. And when they train, then breeze counter-clockwise, and warm-up and canter/jog going the other way.

And I've seen plenty of times when the horse didn't 'wanna', and the jockey ate dirt. ;) Running around a circle for a few minutes is probably kinder then the rollkur used on dressage horses for hours, or the western pleasure horses with permanently tight muscles, spur scars, and dead mouths.

Please correct me if im wrong... but Seabiscuit had awful conformation, not-so-hot breeding, etc.. but wasn't he retired from racing at the age of Seven? (grantid, yes, he died of a heart attack or something like that at the age of Fourteen) but my point being the horses of the past were a heck of a lot heartier, even with bad conformation. :p So.. what has happened since Seabiscuits death in 1949(?) I think a lot of it has to do with people breeding these race horses to be at their peak in the first 5 years of their life. Any years after that is a bonus... especially if they are worthy to stand as stud.


There were plenty of race horses being trashed, shot, and broken down on the race track--you just didn't hear about it then. It has always been a dangerous sport, for the rider and for the horse. There isn't that much wrong with the breeding of these horses--it's the training. (Take a look at funny cide--the gelding is still working on the track with babies, and he's seven years old and 'retirered.' For every horse like Barbaro, you can come up with THOUSANDS of horses who are old and are sound--take a look at all of the OTTBs in eventing!) Take a look at CJs post, I think she's got it down.


County:

They do it because that's what horse fans and people want. People complain about it but spend millions betting on them and watching them on TV. Every time you spend a dollar or watch them on TV your supporting the system.

Incorrect. It has nothing to do with what 'fans want'. We want to see the Kentucky Derby... Not three year olds running. We don't care about the age! If we stopped watching the races on TV, trust me... they'd still be breaking them at one--if not more so then before.

Sarah murphy:
how about instead of attacking the trainers that race these 2 and 3 year olds. You consider the tracks who write the classes?? Go get a racing program and check to see how much the 2 year old race goes for, then look at say a $10,000 claimer that is mostly filled with horses 5 and up and see how much they go for! Huge difference.

All the money to be made is for horses aged 2 to 4. So its not the trainers and owners to be blamed. This is a business and in order to make money you need your horses to race where the money is.


Again, incorrect. The trainers and owners are to blame! Horses are raced at such young ages because of the money involved in training and care. To keep a horse until he was three or four, without ANY knowledge of how he would race, is very expensive. Trainers and owners don't want to put out the money for a horse for three years (Imagine the food, vet bills, farrier bills, Etc. For just one horse, let alone hundreds!) only to find out that he is slow and hates running! Training horses at one is the fastest turnover for investments (and when you see what some of these horses go for--millions of dollars--you can see why it's an investment!), and therefore... the races are catered to the 2 and 3 year olds, because this is the time that trainers are going to be running most of their horses. If the horse can run for two years and make millions of dollars, who cares if he isn't sound at 5 years old? Is it really any different from GP dressage horses who appear on the international scene for two years and then disappear due to 'complications' (Read: stress related injuries because they were pushed beyond their limits)?

Horses are expensive to take care of--the faster a trainer can turn around and make profit on the horse, the less money they are going to lose.

I'll never agree to it, however--this the way the racing world works as of now.
     
    04-06-2009, 08:22 AM
  #17
Weanling
Quote:
He MUST run the circle. Counter-Clockwise. Always.

Not really. Horses run the turns on the left lead, and then switch to the right lead for the straights--so it's not like they're permanently running and beating down the same legs for one lead. And when they train, then breeze counter-clockwise, and warm-up and canter/jog going the other way.

And I've seen plenty of times when the horse didn't 'wanna', and the jockey ate dirt. ;) Running around a circle for a few minutes is probably kinder then the rollkur used on dressage horses for hours, or the western pleasure horses with permanently tight muscles, spur scars, and dead mouths.
I didn't mean that they were forced to run the left lead when I said that :p. I just meant that comparing a horse at liberty in a field to a working performance horse under saddle is just silly =)

Quote:
I'm sure some steroids are legal in racing--just like some steroids are legal in barrel racing. It's amazing what the barrel racers are allowed to take and still compete, so don't slam racing like they're the only ones. ;) Drugs usually play a BIG role in the smaller cheap races with the crap horses--they're on every thing imaginable; often times their nerves are blocked so they can't feel pain when they're running.
I didn't realize I was slamming racing, lol! I just think its a poor idea to allow steroids, and let horses on steroids run with horses who arent on steroids. Just like the HYPP thing in the Quarter Horse world.. its unfair to show an active diseased HYPP N/H horse with a healthy N/N horse for the reasons I said in my post above yours. I believe the N/H horse has the edge, as does the horse with steroids.

Quote:
Woo! Do we have a LOT of opinions being thrown around here, by people who've never been on the track. ;)
What can I say... you're talking to Horse People :p! Anyone who has ever ridden a horse seems to have a strong opinion about them ;) even on things they don't have extensive direct knowledge of. That's why threads like this are fun and educational, because we put our voice out there and listen when other people speak up too =) I think that the opinions here are very valid and well thought out... fun to read and reply to!

I very much agree with your reply to sarah murphy. To buy a yearling/weanling and invest 3 years of feed and care into him just to realize he isn't cut out for the race track.. its a huge waste of money for the owner.

Very well thought out reply =) Thanks!

CJ82Sky, I read your post a few days ago and it does make a lot of sense. I hadn't looked at it that way before... I guess people in the States are too worried about spending 3,000,000 on a yearling then running him through the hills and breaking his legs then losing the 3,000,000. I think that's another reason that race horses in the past did so much better and lasted longer... the tools used to create the perfect environment werent really developed yet... so every track was a little different, meaning the horses became accustomed to more. =)
     
    04-06-2009, 09:40 AM
  #18
Weanling
I disagree, if no one watched a race on TV or live and no one ever bet $1 racing would die. You want something changed you do it with your money. Does anyone actually beleive the TV networks would show racing if no one watched? How many sponsors would pay millions to run ads? Think tracks will stay open if theres no one betting?
     
    04-06-2009, 04:17 PM
  #19
Yearling
Lol. Racing isn't that big in the US, County. Please do your research. The money is in the BREEDING, and since people over seas will still throw RIDICULOUS amounts of money down on untried yearlings (like 8 million or other crazy numbers!), the TBs will stay and be raced even if they don't get that much money on the actual races, because babies will still sell and stallions will still breed.

There practically is no one betting now, especially with the economy. ;)

Skippy!,

There is some crazy crap in the AQHA world. I can kind of see their ruling though--if you bought a baby to show and THEN realized that it was N/H, it's not fair to you to not be able to show it--you didn't breed it. I must agree, something has to be done to start to limit the N/H horses. Invest in Vital Signs, a BIG name pleasure horse winning furturities and congress titles, is N/H. And they're still breeding him! ARGH. I wonder if they charged more for a N/H horse to be registered... if that would convince people to stop breeding them?
     
    04-06-2009, 08:16 PM
  #20
Weanling
I'm very aware racing is world wide and please do your own research, if no one in the world ever bet on a horse or watched a race on TV until they raced horses older then now things would change.
     

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