80yo Trainer's 8yo Stallion's First Race Start - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
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80yo Trainer's 8yo Stallion's First Race Start

I thought the general HF community might enjoy this story.

A little background: When my husband and I bought a rural property in 2010, we adopted three retired harness racing horses off my then 72yo father to try to make things a little easier on him, and because I like horses. He still had ten horses then, most of them retirees.

What did he do? Went and bought three new horses, of course. @elkdog has recently written a lovely little piece on this phenomenon, which all of you need to read, but I warn you: Don't try to drink coffee or anything else while reading this, or you might end up with aspiration pneumonia. OK? Here's the link:

https://www.horseforum.com/new-horse...post1970707213



Anyhow, Baralu was bought as a yearling back then - also a young filly, and a project mare who was having difficulties elsewhere. The other two were raced, with mixed success (a few wins and placings and a few disasters, which is how racing goes). Baralu was very fine-boned and was allowed to mature before getting serious about trials and racing. This was him rising four:



I really liked the look of this one: He reminds me of an Andalusian in his bearing, plus face, mane and tail. You don't see it on the photos particularly, but you see it when he's in motion. He's very regal and really enjoys moving.



Baralu is a rig - he has retained testicles in his body cavity - which means he is a sterile stallion. Baralu was very friendly to people, but overly playful and boisterous, and still a bit of a handful in the early stages of his education.









Here's the race:

https://www-harness-org-au.akamaized...AC15041901.mp4

My father isn't driving in this race, he's 80, but he's the trainer. It's nice to know the fitness training is working out.

The situation reminds me of that joke about the Outback Horse Race, a free-for-all. Some guy turns up with an unknown, unraced 10-year-old, who wins the race by 30 metres. Afterwards they ask the trainer, "Why is he only racing now?" and he says, "I was never able to catch him!"

By the way, 1:56:1 for the mile is the fastest any of my father's horses ever ran for a race win. Romeo could do it at home in training, but unfortunately there weren't as many mile races back then to enter into, and he drew back draws for the few he entered, which makes it much harder when your horse insists he's going to lead from the go-get - the horse then has to put in too much running at the start to make it to the finish.

Chip, his multiple metropolitan winner and overall stable star, ran 1:58:5 as his record in 1997 - of course, this was 20 years ago, and tracks were slower.

Classic Juliet, the best race mare he had, won first-up as well, and her fastest win was 1:58:5, in 1993.

Classic Julian, her only foal, ran 1:59:4 as his best winning time. His first win was his second race, back in 2006.

Le Chasseur ran 2:00:6 for his fastest win, in 1998.

There's a string of others, and if you want to know more about them, I have a journal. But, be warned, it's like picking up a huge tome - if you're already spending too much time online, better stay away!

1:56:1 is a remarkable time for a C0 classification race. You can win metropolitan races with that time. The track record at Pinjarra is 1:53:0, run by big-timers with over $500K in stake earnings. Baralu ran the fastest race of the meeting, and it's not often a C0 race (maiden open race) ends up with that distinction. There's metropolitan class horses racing in these meetings too.

It's very nice that someone who was obsessed with horses from midlife (to the point of monomania, which was lamentable and excruciating) has had his best ever time at this stage of the game.
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 02:18 AM
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Good for your father! Glad he's still in the game--how fun. And Baralu is quite beautiful--I am loving his soft expression and all that wavy hair.
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 02:30 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that mane! It could make many a woman jealous. Not to mention those long dark eyelashes!

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post #4 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 06:24 AM
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Baralu is gorgeous!!! Congrats to him and your dad, Woot!!

I would probably like racing more if they were all started at an older age.
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 07:08 AM Thread Starter
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Here's an open secret, @LoriF : Racing isn't my favourite thing either. I think there are much better things we can do with horses than run them around circles trying to see who is fastest, which is why my personal favourite equestrian pursuits are trail and endurance riding, (classical) dressage, and just hanging out with them. The biggest problem with horse racing, apart from working immature horses too hard - which usually results in damage to them by age 7-10, well before the end of a showjumper's useful life span, to compare with another type of athlete - is the massive amounts of horses that come out of the process while still young, destined by their sheer numbers, and by injuries, for dog food, or as cheap horses for people who know very little about riding and are going to give them a worse fate than a bullet: Ignorant treatment.

Unfortunately, there is such a sea of horses bred by the TB and STB racing industries that there will never be enough good homes to absorb their numbers. Just like with greyhound racing.

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post #6 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 01:23 PM
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Yes, there is a whole lot of things that could be better with horse racing.
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post #7 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 01:39 PM
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So awesome! I really enjoyed watching that.


Do any of these pacers learn to rack under saddle (once retired)? I would love to own a racking horse some day. They look like more fun that a barrel of monkeys! I noticed the pace and rack have some similarities and I think some of the racking horses in the USA are Standardbreds.
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post #8 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
Do any of these pacers learn to rack under saddle (once retired)? I would love to own a racking horse some day. They look like more fun that a barrel of monkeys! I noticed the pace and rack have some similarities and I think some of the racking horses in the USA are Standardbreds.
STBs do often offer alternative gaits under saddle if you let them. Romeo did, for example - although @knightrider or someone else knowledgeable riding a gaited riding horse will have to tell me if there's any "real" rack here or just something that feels like it!

Here's two clips of Romeo offering gaits other than a walk. It's a bit of an anomalous clip because this horse was 26 at this point and hadn't been ridden for years. We'd just adopted him, and on the spring flush he came into on our pasture, he was soon looking so good and had so much energy that I decided to hop on and take him for a little ride. I used to ride this horse a lot in my 20s and early 30s, although on the clips, my riding is anything but exemplary - we were still getting used to everything with each other again, and this is literally seconds after I hopped on. The saddle fit wasn't great, and I think it irritated him, and I couldn't sit properly in it because of the strange angle it was at, so my back was all skewiff. And, this horse had a lot of head movement, which was not the case with either my Arabian mare or Sunsmart, so I'm having trouble with the rhythm of the "give" here - and it would take a few sessions to get smooth at that again.


On the "return" his young buddy horse was wanting to run, and Romeo was very competitive, so at one point he wanted to do a "liftoff" and race off, but that wasn't happening on a first ride in years, at his age, so I ended up turning him in a circle to stop him taking off. I also go all super-floppy and relaxed when horses get tense, as a counter-measure. Often, the difference between that and normal muscular tension in me transfers to the horse, who then doesn't rush off.


When we rode regularly, and I was adapted to him, he was an unbelievably smooth, elastic ride. He was also without question the fastest horse I ever rode. He was the fastest sprinter my family ever had, in harness, at the pace, and he also had a gallop that felt like you were flying. The turbo-charged take-off when I let him go was very much like the feeling in a jumbo jet at lift-off.

This is the same two horses enjoying their liberty that summer:



If a STB is a natural pacer - which means they can pace from birth and do it in the paddock - then it will offer to pace under saddle. Most natural pacers are also good trotters, so you can have both gaits. Chip, whom I rode a lot for cross-training when he was a young racehorse 20 years ago, was excellent at both gaits, and you could cue him to do one or the other, just like you can cue horses to do "standard" gaits.

Sunsmart is from a trotting line, and not a natural pacer. He couldn't be trained to pace properly in hopples either; all he learnt from that was to canter disunited when irritated, which I had to train him out of when I saddle educated him. He's a lovely riding horse:


The one non-standard gait he has is the racing trot. We do this out riding regularly, but obviously I don't have cameramen following me around! Here's what it looks like in the paddock - this is a spook at the racing trot - so the head is up, and it isn't when we're trail riding.


Oh, and he secretly wants to be a cow horse!


These horses really are so much fun!

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Last edited by SueC; 04-18-2019 at 08:12 PM.
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post #9 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 08:59 PM
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Sorry, I'm no expert on gaits. I just ride them. It looked like at the very beginning of the video that Romeo was starting to do some sort of interesting gait. And at the end he was clearly pacing. I can tell a pace and I can tell a corto by the sound. Running walk I can tell when I am riding. But I can't tell a rack from a running walk from a fox trot. There is so much I don't know.

My neighbor says, "I used to be able to ride, but now I just sit up there." That's me too.
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post #10 of 12 Old 04-18-2019, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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, @knightrider !

Romeo is initially trotting coming back on the sand track (much concealed by bushes), then he's pacing slowly, but after that he drops into and out of a 4-beat slowing down, the same 4-beat they do when "walking" in hopples. It's a very rapid left back-left front-left back-right front-right gait that feels like the horse is rolling when you ride it. If you pause the clip at intervals, you'll see he's not using leg pairs for it. The pace is a swinging two-beat - even more so with this bloke, who was a body pacer - swung his entire body as he paced - as opposed to a leg pacer, whose body stays straight while the legs do their thing. The body pacers are generally faster than the leg pacers.

I love the moniker "some sort of interesting gait"!

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Last edited by SueC; 04-18-2019 at 09:15 PM.
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