View Full Version : Tell me about "Timber Racing"
Jan. 3, 2008, 08:17 PM
I posted this on "off course" but J Swan recommended that I post it here:
What is timber racing like compare to say, steeplechase? I looked it up, but the descriptions were vague. The reason I'm asking is I'm going to check out a horse that went through "timber racing" training but was sent home for some undisclosed reason, and I'd like to have some idea of what this guy was doing as a "trainee".
What are horses generally built like that do timber racing?
Jan. 3, 2008, 08:49 PM
Xcntrygirl could give you more info.
Timber is basically steeplechase over fixed wood fences. From the National Steeplechase website:
* Timber fences are made of wood, and are constructed of boards or posts and rails. The height and stiffness varies depending on the race course, with the famed Maryland Hunt Cup (which features some fences nearly five feet tall) heading the list.
This is multiple Timber Champion, Saluter, jumping timber http://www.thejoyofhorses.com/july98/mcup3.jpg
Jan. 4, 2008, 08:35 AM
Steeplechase = general term for any race over fences (timber, hurdle, brush)
Hurdle race = specific term for races over soft, smallish hurdles meant to be jumped 'as a stride', not a real 'effort' to bascule over
Timber race = specific term for races over fixed, solid obstacles which must be jumped cleanly. Can be smallish (point to point courses, early in the season, tend to be 3'6" tops, and a friendly slant to the face), up to 4' and big (Va. Gold Cup) up to 5' and monsterous (Md. Hunt Cup - straight up and down post and rails)
Brush race, or 'fences' = in England and Ireland, describes the bigger more solid packed brush fences which require a far better jump from a horse
Timber horses would tend to be a little bigger and sturdier but not necessarily. Plenty are slight and small. Jay Trump and Battleship, both of which won over timber in the US before winning the Grand National over fences in England, were small. Timber horses tend to jump better, but not necessarily. Some courses dont' really require jumping as much.
But a timber horse in training would do little 'different' than any horse in training == lots of jogging and cantering for a base, lots of galloping alone and in company for fitness, plenty of speed work, some schooling. Some point to point horses hunt mostly for fitness but certainly they go to the track or some such for speed works as races approach.
My website has lots of photos of timber racing and hurdles if you want to see the difference, both in the look of the fence and difference in jumping style.
Jan. 4, 2008, 08:36 AM
PS Who's the horse? Surely some of us on here know him - perhaps intimately!! Do tell!
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:25 PM
Now he's mine. :D
His name is Bishop and he was timber trained but never raced, apparently through no fault of the horse. I'm still trying to get the details on his pedigree but he is such a nice boy it doesn't matter.
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:44 PM
You go, girl!! Yay for Bishop. What trainer had the horse? I wonder if he ran on the flat?
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:50 PM
Yeah Stacie! Congratulations! Pictures please! :D
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:08 PM
Stacie - glad you posted that question here. So - you bought the horse! Congratulations. I bet he's fabulous.
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:34 PM
Thanks for the cheers! I am very excited about him.
He has no tattoo so he has never raced We know he is TB since he is local and we know his history back to when he was in timber training. At some point I may actually get his papers. I would be very interested to see his pedigree because he is very big. He has loads of bone. No spindly legs here, but not drafty legs either. When you see him from far away, you think, oh, it's just a regular sized horse. But the closer you get, the bigger he gets until you realize he's at least 17 hands. Real 17 hands, not imaginary ones. Huge butt. Big chest. A real cutie. And so sweet under saddle. Responsive but with great brakes. I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun with him. He's been out of work for at least a year, so it's going to be a few months before we can do any real work. Lots of trail riding in our future!
I'll post pics as soon as I get him home.
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:40 PM
When you two are ready and if you're interested, why not try foxhunting? Over the summer there will be lots of trail rides, and you can just walk trot - you know - just get used to things, and maybe cap a couple of times with a local hunt.
Or event. Bet he'd be great at that, too.
So many possibilities! Have fun.
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:08 PM
JSwan. Hmm that a possibility. I've never Fox Hunted although the barn where I board is on the Piedmont Hunt and some of the boarders hunt. I should talk to them about it.
My plan was to try some eventing. He is surprisingly easy to package for a big guy.
I love my ex-timber horse; he has one of the best brains I've ever encountered. And he is in his second season of foxhunting and doing very well! (He never hunted before like many timber horses do).
Jan. 14, 2008, 07:30 PM
If a horse has been bred to timber race, so they start training later than flat racers due to the jumping?
I found a timber race on you tube. It was 7 minutes long. That is a lot of galloping :eek:
Jan. 14, 2008, 08:16 PM
Saluter (mentioned above) has that good old-fashioned distance breeding that makes a good sporthorse - including my fave: Turn-to!
Jan. 14, 2008, 08:28 PM
Hey, the Timber course at Camden is a figure of eight! Nice to see American horses galloping right handed for a change.
Any where else like that?
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:14 PM
There are several timber courses that change direction. And one, that I can't remember at the moment, that all races run right handed.
Middleburg and Gold Cup both have Steeplethon's that are mostly timber and do a figure 8...I think. I may be wrong.
As for timber horses, they don't necessarily start later if they are bred for timber. Most timber horses I know that are bred for it, will start later than a flat horse, but will start over hurdles in the fall of the 3 y/o year. Then race over hurdles at 4. There are restrictions on age of timber horses (for horse and rider sake).
Jan. 15, 2008, 08:18 AM
Breeders definitely do NOT breed 'for' timber racing, steeplechasing in general, actually. Oooooh, noooo. That would be the kiss of death to a US stallion or mare (commercially, I mean) to say they are throwing 'chasers. In racing terms, that translates to 'too slow to win on the flat.' UK has plenty of jumps breeding, Europe, too, but certainly not the US. Saluter was a flat track washout and hurdle washout. I had a Salutely, too, at the same time, who followed a similar course (not much on the flat, great over hurdles, champion over timber.)
99% of US chasers (hurdle or timber or jumps) ran on the flat, 80% of timber horses (maybe more) raced over hurdles first. You don't just hop into 'timber training' without the other stuff. Follow the money. Always the way it goes.
Jan. 15, 2008, 09:51 AM
My horse also started on the flat first: 2 starts at 2; 23 starts at 3 with only 1 win and a handful of seconds/thirds. He only made 4-5 starts at 4 but then started over hurdles at 5 and timber at 6 with a few flat starts thrown in for conditioning. He retired at 11.
Jan. 15, 2008, 11:27 AM
In Ireland about half the TB foal crop (around 10,000 foals a year) is bred for NH racing. In France the numbers are probably similar, and then they have all those AQPS (TB crosses) too that are almost exclusively jump race bred. In GB there's probably more flat bred horses than jumpers, but still a sizable number of jump bred foals.
There really isn't enough jump races in the US to warrant a sizeable jump breeding industry, esp when you have such a huge surplus of flat rejects to chose from, nor is the money big enough.
Even in Europe, where there is a lot more jump racing, and bigger money, NH stallions don't command the big stud fees that flat stallions do. You could get at the top NH stallions for around $10k, sometimes a bit more, but most would be in the $2k to $8k range. Just a bit more than sporthorse sires.
Feb. 4, 2008, 08:53 PM
Due to several things, not the least of which has been the horrible weather, this weekend was the first weekend that I got to take my new guy out on the trail. I can't tell you how impressed I am. While he really doesn't know a lot, he has clearly been taught to use himself well. At one point we had gotten a bit behind the lead horses and I asked him to trot a bit (we've only been walking) and he got so excited that we were going to do something besides walk that he did a few strides of a canter halfpass ... uphill. It was like riding a cloud. It's like his feet do not hit the ground. Then he trotted for me (still like floating) and we popped over a little log. I thought for sure that he was going to just throw his front end over it, like a lot of big guys do over little jumps, but he actually jumped it. The rider behind us was gushing over how he tucked his rear and used himself, exclaiming that he really knew how to jump.
Oh, and we saw COWS. I thought he was going to hyperventilate. Second pass by them, it was like they weren't there. And for the most part he could care less if the other horses are trotting and cantering or moving away from him, he doesn't react to it.
He is truly going to be a cadillac ride. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he stays sweet and enthusiastic rather than becoming hot as he gets fit.
Although he never raced (we did find a tattoo, though), he is a poster horse for what a race trained TB can be like in a second career.
Feb. 4, 2008, 10:46 PM
In l988 I bought a huge TB three year old, daughter of Leeds Dawn, granddaughter to a horse called Leeds Fran (1963) - who did big timber races - Mariland, Virginia Hunt Cups. He was l7.1 hh and had the biggest head and knees I have ever seen. His feet took the largest shoe size of my farrier's clientel, except the drafts. He was mistaken for a warmblood constantly; Anybody know this horse? My horse is retired now, but was magnificent and I searched a long time before finding him. Not the spindly TB's of today. Wish there were more of his type.