View Full Version : How tall is Rock Hard Ten?

May. 16, 2004, 04:11 AM
He looked like a goliath out there!

May. 16, 2004, 04:11 AM
He looked like a goliath out there!

May. 16, 2004, 05:25 AM
I heard 17-3. Did you notice what a dwarf Smarty looked like along side him?

May. 16, 2004, 05:50 AM
Yes! NBC showed a shot of his barn manager leading him through the barn. He is fairly tall anyway, but that shot always makes Smarty looks teeny weeny. Someone on this board said that Smarty is 15.3, though, which I don't consider to be really small. Size is all about perspective, I suppose. I think of 15.3 to 16.2 to be average for a performance/show horse, but my in-laws who have QHs for trail riding think my 16h mare is a giant! Now 17.3 on the other hand... http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

May. 16, 2004, 06:00 AM
No kidding right, I was rootin for Rock because he was so big, but I think all of that starting gate jitters lost the race for him. If it would have been any longer, I think he would have caught up, his one stride was like four of Smarty's, though it'll be nice to see a triple crown winner in three weeks, Smarty wiped their pants off!

drifting cloud
May. 16, 2004, 07:25 AM
I have heard that Rock Hard Ten is "over 17 hands." The Preakness was only his 4th race, so I bet his antics at the starting gate were because he is still so green.

He is a good horse, though. When he grows into that body a little more and gets more experience, he is going to be really tough.

May. 16, 2004, 09:29 AM
I could not help but look at Rock Hard Ten and think, "Wow! He is big and purdy! I would like to have *him* and a sport horse." Sorry racing fans! http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 16, 2004, 12:02 PM
Bugs. Get in line! I am waiting for Rock Hard to become a CANTER horse so I can event him!!

The Fjord Jockey
May. 16, 2004, 12:33 PM
Oh man, with as common as that horse was acting in the starting gate? I would have killed him. UHGG! http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_mad.gif What a little son of a gun.

May. 16, 2004, 02:32 PM
Aww, he's just a baby - definitely lacking in experience, such is life. I guess it's coming from a sporthorse background - I always got yelled at for sweet talking my two year olds & immature three year olds. 'But they're just babies!'

Starting gates make me want to have a panic attack - the first time I was on a baby with the front & back closed, I don't know who was closer to flipping out, me - or the two year old. Probably me. http://chronicleforums.com/images/custom_smilies/uhoh.gif

May. 16, 2004, 06:07 PM
Rock Hard Ten's gate behavior just proved he wants to come live with me, have me say, "awwwww, he's just a baaaaby", pat him alot and let him run and JUMP!! http://chronicleforums.com/images/custom_smilies/winkgrin.gif

Gallop On
May. 16, 2004, 06:27 PM
I agree with you, Pol. He would make big jumps look small. When he was running next to Imperialism, it looked like his head was as big as Imp's body. I knew then I had bet on the wrong horse to show . . . .

drifting cloud
May. 16, 2004, 06:48 PM
Did they ear twitch Rock Hard Ten when he was being naughty about loading? I thought I saw one of the guys grab his ear. I hope not...I HATE it when they do that. http://chronicleforums.com/images/custom_smilies/no.gif

May. 16, 2004, 07:08 PM
Oh yes he was ear twitched with one of the ones you clip and leave on. They also had the chain over his gums at one point. he was being very naughty....but I can't help but hink of him as a baby. My husband was horrified.

He was one amazinglooking animal flying down track! It looked like David and Goliath at tha races.

The Fjord Jockey
May. 17, 2004, 12:56 AM
Trust me, that horse was nothing to go "aww" at.

I know the gate crew guys really well, they're always letting me crawl up in the gate to take photos.

They have recieved numerous compliments from the jockeys as being one of the best gate crews around. They are the same people who work the gate at Colonial Downs, which is one of the WORST meets to work the gate. The horses are very green (rearing, kicking, flipping, dropping riders) due to lack of training, and the crew always manages to get them in. These guys know what they are doing.

A three year old is hardly a "baby" anymore on the backside. Most of them are already running and experienced in the gate.

Rock Hard Ten was being common. It's one thing to be nervous about going in, but to pin your ears and fire out? An ear twitch isn't going to kill or even remotely injure the horse, but a kick from the horse could very well seriously hurt one of the guys.

And yes, they did put it over his gum. 99% of horses are brought over to the paddock with it over their gum. It helps to calm them down and works very well.

I see nothing wrong with the way that horse was handled. And, with the common behavior and COMPLETE lack of class that he showed, found nothing endearing or likable about him.

I highly doubt Rock Hard Ten was phased by anything they did.

Two Toofs
May. 17, 2004, 03:29 AM
Twitching his ear and the lip chain were not the first efforts, but the last ditch attempt once the horse started acting downright dangerous. What would you rather? The horse kick someone (double barreled at that), flip over on the rider, or be restrained in a manner that I agree did not phase that beast one bit? He was not showing fear but being defiant. Green nothing, that horse has a gate card which shows that he does know how to load in the gate and knows what it's all about. Big difference.

But I'll disagree that his behavior makes him "common". It just means he was being a turd that day. That twitch probably hurt LESS than the sting of a whip used to make a horse move forward.

You come kicking at me or showing other aggressive behavior when I'm trying to get something necessary accomplished and you can bet I'll resort to physical restraints as well before the horse #1 seriously injures himself, or #2 seriously injures me.

May. 17, 2004, 05:52 AM
The horse is far from common unlike the gate people......let me put a chain on their gums and twitch their ear and tell me it doesn't hurt. The easiest way to load a horse is use a lunge line around the butt, but you see gate people do not have that kind of forthought, they would rather link arms and push...........

Sing Mia Song
May. 17, 2004, 06:26 AM
Spirit horse, you ought to read a very good article in the February Mid-Atlantic TB about the gate guys. It is one tough job. It is well-known that the most dangerous place on the the racetrack is in that gate.

Keep in mind, too, that they are under enormous pressure to load horses quickly and efficiently to maintain the simulcast schedule (this is for every day, not just the Preakness). The time to school a horse in the gate is in the morning, not post time. It's the trainer's responsibility to send the horse up for gate work in the morning to make sure he's comfortable under a multitude of situations--not just to get his gate card.

That said, the morning is a whole lot quieter than the afternoon. And in the mornings the gate is in the chute on the backstretch, not on the homestretch with a horde of screaming, drunken fans. Any horse could get undone by that, but it's unfair to ask all the other horses to stand and wait (and potentially act up) while one horse takes his time deciding whether or not he's going to participate that day.

Don't fault the gatemen. They really do a fabulous job.

If anyone wants a copy of the article, PT me and I'll be happy to mail it to you.

Hunter's Rest
May. 17, 2004, 07:30 AM
I agree 99.9% with your judgement - common mother that one. Big and tough. Yep, young. Yep, inexperienced. But a baby? No way. The folks that say those sorts of things don't have backside experience, which is fine, but DO NOT JUDGE a sport that you don't know inside and out.
My only .1% disagreement is that '99% of horses come to the paddock with the chain over the gum.' Uh-uh. 99% come to teh paddock with the chain over the NOSE. Not the gum. Very few come in with it over the gum. they don't like to move with it there (that's why it works so well for the farrier etc. to put the chain over the gum.) I've seen (and saddled) plenty with the chain over the gum, but not a large percentage.
But you're sooo right. The horse was being bad. They quickly caught it, put the sucker in the gate and off they went. Hated to see the others 'punished' by having to stand around waiting for him.
But, gawd, he is a lovely sucker. Wow.

May. 17, 2004, 07:48 AM
Well, common in the gate or not, I still loved him and would take him in a heartbeat. Watching him run was truly breathtaking - the length of that <span class="ev_code_PURPLE">stride!</span>

And anyway, he's only three - still salvageably as far as loading goes. He'd not be the first bick sucker I'd had to trailer train............ http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

May. 17, 2004, 08:16 AM
I wasn't judging...just commenting. I also said he was being very naughty. http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

On another note, I was wondering how many "chances" a horse gets? If he had continued to be naughty and they still coudln't load him, are they obligated to continue to try or is their a cut-off point where they can knock him out of the race or penalize him?

I tend to get nervous for the other horses and riders who are already sitting IN the gate. I know they have people in there, but does each horse have someone other than the jockey in the gate helping to keep it quiet? Educate me please!

May. 17, 2004, 08:26 AM
You know, I realize I only worked at a teeny tiny, piddly training track - for a no-name trainer, riding no-name horses - which, IMHO, was FAR better than getting myself or someone else killed thanks to my inexperience on a REAL track - but I wasn't judging the sport! I suppose when I get more experience under my belt, three year olds (all of them) will cease to be 'babies', but in *my experience* (which is admittedly quite limited on the actual hands on side of things, which I have been pretty clear about on the racing board & to individuals on this board) a lot of them aren't the seasoned pros they are expected and/or should be. Maybe I look at them like I do show horses - you can have a 3 year old that is a seasoned pro on the line & in the IHF/IJF classes undersaddle, and they will STILL pull stupid crap because they're 3. And really not that mentally mature, even though they have years of showring experience under their belt. To me, three or four races does not make a horse a pro.

I've been involved on the sporthorse side of things FAR longer than on the racehorse side of things, so forgive me for my opinion. I'm sure it will change with more experience.

I was not judging the sport, will never judge the sport on a blanket statement, and if I thought so badly of racing TO be judging - I wouldn't be trying to get back into it as a rider. I made no comment on the gate crew - they are doing their job! Twitches, lip chains, etc. all have their uses (even in the show horse world!) & when used judiciously & with a fair hand, are perfectly normal/acceptable. As an individual, I have seen things upclose in the show horse AND my limited experience in the racehorse world that have made my skin crawl. Making a three year old get into the gate with normal means is not one of them.

Finally, I have never had to actually break out of the gate (thank the good lord), but I have been on two year olds who have just started the "Walk through the open gate. Walk through the open gate and stand quietly with a groom at your head. Walk through the gate & stand quietly while we close the back .... so on & so forth" - and like I said earlier, starting gates freak ME out. And I'm a human with a brain that is much larger & more capable of processing this sort of thing than a horse. I know I may just be a scardy puss, but I know at least a handful of riders who don't like the gates. If I - as a rational human - find something mildly disturbing about starting gates, I really can't blame a flight-or-fight horse. Some of them never do get over their dislike of the gate.

I really & truly do love horse racing. Ever since I left that piddly little training track, I have had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I need to get back to it. Hopefully I will be back soon - and more than happy to let all the pros teach me the ropes.

drifting cloud
May. 17, 2004, 09:23 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jilltx:
I wasn't judging...just commenting. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Me too. I didn't mean to be disrespectful. I have just dealt with horses that were extremely ear-shy from being twitched, so I cringe whenever I see someone doing it. But I understand the gate crew has a hard, dangerous job and is under a lot of pressure to load horses quickly. I sure wouldn't want that job! I guess they have found that ear twitching can be helpful.

Hunter's Rest
May. 17, 2004, 09:27 AM
Yes, they would have (fairly quickly) scratched the horse behind the gate. What a bad ending taht would have been, but it happens. Not too often, cause those gate guys are SO big and brave and strong and savvy. Yep, there are definitely ham-hands but those guys are not. Best in the biz, I'd say.
And breaking from the gate is a little scary 'til you do it a fair bit - I was on a horse in a race at Delaware Park that wanted to rear but once the last horse got in the gate, she pricked her ears and practically vibrated with professionalism - ready to go. Still couldn't outrun a fat man, but once horses get the hang of it, they are usually fine. (And yes, that was an early summer 3 yo in a run of the mill iddly piddly race.)
Yes, RHT is very unseasoned but with a professional team behind him, he oughta have been a) plenty experienced in the gate, and b) not quite such a common actor. Surely the crowd etc. unhinged him. Bet he'll be better (and therefore even MORE threatening to our little Smarty guy) next time out ....

May. 17, 2004, 10:23 AM
I am a racehorse trainer and from experience, I say the gate guys need to be willing to learn something that might just be easier, quicker and SAFER. When we gate train, we use the lunge line for safety and security and it only takes a few times until the horse is re-assured that the gate and gate guys will not hurt um.

As for the most dangerous job, that belongs to the exercise riders and the jockeys. Just look at the injury rate and the types of injuries. When a horse rears in the gate it will usually be a jockey who receives the injury, not the gate guy.

May. 17, 2004, 10:33 AM
Just my two cents.... Never worked on the back stretch but ran around there a lot as a little tyke and have ridden OTTB's my entire riding career, so I think I can justify giving my opinion here http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif I was really suprised and impressed that more of those BABIES didn't act up with all of those people yelling and waving on the infield less than 30 feet away. Yes RHT is a big boy, and if he wouldn't have been acting really naughty I don't think Stevens would have gotten off of him. But he is green and I think really nervous, rightfully so. I think the crew treated him absolutely great considering they had 9 other horses loaded that could potentially blow at any moment. But to call that horse common and mean spirited, gimme a break. I know you're speaking from experience, but so am I, every time I see those horses load so perfectly I am absolutely amazed. Regardless of what track people think, they are babies, 3 yr. olds can hardly be classified as old veterans. Yes he was kicking out, ears pinned etc. if he was mean there was plenty of other shi* he could have gotten not only himself, but everyone else into as well...

Basically I just love this horse. He could have walked down the homestretch and I would still love him. http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Sing Mia Song
May. 17, 2004, 10:37 AM
Absolutely you are right that the jockey or exercise rider gets the brunt of the injuries. but the gatemen do consider it their responsibility to make things as safe as possible.

I'm curious--do you use the lunge just for schooling in the mornings, or in the afternoons as well? I would think that the time it requires to get the lunge and set it up would be prohibitve, but perhaps I'm missing something. It also seems to me that it's one more thing to trip over.

I'm also wondering why you feel it's better to use a lungeline than to clasp hands and push the horse in? I would think that one would get more "feel" having physical contatc with the horse.

Just curious, not reproaching at all.

Hunter's Rest
May. 17, 2004, 10:43 AM
Drifting Cloud
You bring up an interesting point. That 'horses off the track that have been ear twitched are ear shy.'
Sure. Plenty of times. SOmetimes not, though.
Take, for example, my xbred 2 yo gelding that I raised from his DAM'S preconception (as in, two generations.) He has been well handled, treated gently, calmly, professionally, ALWAYS - his dam is kind, quiet, a love and good foxhunter. His sire ditto. This gelding? Who has never ever ever been ear twitched (as if ...)? Pretty durned ear shy. Why? Dunno.
But suffice it to say that I don't deny that my friend's horse is a little skittish in the stall when I go in with him to clean around him when he's eating (my guys are in 2x per day for about 30 min each time. I clean stalls while I wait for them to eat.) She says, with alarm, that 'oh my god. He's OFF THE TRACK. Someone MUST have beaten him with a rake. THAT'S why he's nervy when you go in with him.'
Err, well, since my brother in law was his trainer, and since his is top-class NY-Fla outift, and since he nor his help would ever even consider putting a rake to a horse, that's silly. The horse is just skittish. I'm sure some horse, somewhere, may have been hit with a rake (really!) but geez, some horses are just sensitive to different silly things. It doesn't mean that they were mishandled at the track. That allegation (or presumption) drives me nutty.
I know we're WAYYYY off topic by now, but that's been making me simmer for years. Whew ...

May. 17, 2004, 10:52 AM
Was it RHT's lack of training? Or...is it because he is too big for gate? Those inky-dinky little stalls are basically designed for a "standard" sized horse, not for horse's as big as RHT. IMO, there is more to it than RHT just being common or lack of training......

Hunter's Rest
May. 17, 2004, 11:17 AM
Wow, giddyup, good point. Though plenty of big horses march right in and stand nice.
And I didn't mean to call RHT common in his own right - surely not. Just that acting like a bad boy at the gate is common - he's not (I doubt anyway). Behavior was.

May. 17, 2004, 12:20 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hunter's Rest:
Sig: "Though some may say, and I'll agree, that only God can make a tree.
Before God thought of trees its said, his mind was on the Thoroughbred.
-- Paul Mellon <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The only other person to own Maryland Hunt Cup ( Welbourne Jake, 1937) and Kentucky Derby (Sea Hero) winners.

Hunter's Rest
May. 17, 2004, 12:46 PM
You mean other than Smarty Jones' owner, Roy Chapman? He also owned Uncle Merlin who won the 1980 MHC.

May. 17, 2004, 01:38 PM
According to the USA Today newspaper (today's article), RHT is 17 hands.

May. 17, 2004, 02:10 PM
Sing Mia Song,

I use the lunge line at a gate as few times as possible. I free lunge the horses in a round pen and on a 60' line in an arena (if available) in the afternoon. In other words, the horses excercise in the am and the pm.

Actually I have great feeling around the butt with a lunge line. I do not like the idea of two people back there because I have seen a couple of occasions where one or more went flying when the horse decided to kick and or rear.

May. 17, 2004, 02:30 PM
Actually, GiddyUp, those gates aren't all that small. They are made so the horses can't turn etc. but even on a 17.2 TB (Hasten to Add), there was no cramping. How much difference does a few inches really make in width?
I've been on babies (some still standing a very slight 14 hands) and on the big monsters in those gates... the scariest ones were the little guys - they MIGHT be able to turn in there!
And, yes, if a horse is goofy in there, it gets your heart pounding. There really isn't anywhere to go. Even if you get off (play monkey on the sides), you've still got that flesh and hooves that may be thrashing and banging.
I don't agree with the lungeline - one more thing to get into a tangle with if things go wrong. If it's two guys (big strong boys that they are working there!) they can just "let go" hands and step back (have to look after themselves a little) - but with a lunge line? What are the chances of having it tangled around feet? Too high for my liking!

May. 17, 2004, 04:14 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hunter's Rest:
You mean other than Smarty Jones' owner, Roy Chapman? He also owned Uncle Merlin who won the 1980 MHC. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Actually, I think it was 1989 or 1990. Then he went to the English Grand Natioonal the next year. Lost rider at Beecher's Brook the second time around while next to the eventual winner. Winner's jockey said he was ready to settle for second...

May. 17, 2004, 05:15 PM
I have a personal reason for loving Rock Hard Ten...he's my horse's half-brother! His sire is Kris S., my horse Sphinx's sire. My horse is also a half-brother to Action This Day, who barely failed to make the Derby cut. I'll be keeping an eye on these two!

For pics of my Kris S. boy, go here:

and go to the folder marked "Griff."

May. 17, 2004, 05:17 PM
Half siblings = horses out of the same dam, by different sires. The sire does not come into the 'sibling' discussion unless one is talking full siblings (obviously).

Sorry - one of my pet peeves (next to the by/out of discussion).

May. 17, 2004, 05:23 PM
Sorry, Albion, didn't realize there was a distinction. I'm just an eventer...I don't really follow racing. Just knew that all three had Kris S., which I thought was kind of cool...my guy, distantly related to greatness.

May. 17, 2004, 05:50 PM
http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif I wasn't trying to be snarky - this crops up in sporthorse breeding, too, FWIW. You'll see ads saying 'Half sibling to Such-and-such superstar stallion!' when - in fact - said horse is merely by the same stallion.

If all horses by a particular sire were considered true half-siblings, there would be a LOT of siblings running around - it's much easier to identify the offspring by the dam. Goes for any horse breeding, not just race horse breeding.

The Fjord Jockey
May. 17, 2004, 05:53 PM
If spirithorse is talking about using a lunge line the way I think he is, I agree with Sing Mia Song. One more thing to trip over.

If a horse starts to flip when the gate guys lock arms, they can break and odds are the horse will come back down. If it still has lunge line all over it, it's odds of flipping completely over are higher.

I admire the gate crew 100%. I've seen jockeys get wedged in between horses and gate and the gate crew guys pull them out. Horses have flipped over and been stuck UPSIDE DOWN in the gate, and those guys get 'em out. I've seen them calm neurotic fillies and shove in huge colts and everything in between.

I absolutely APPLAUD the MD gate crew, they're awesome.

May. 17, 2004, 07:15 PM
Spirithorse, again, you're absolutly off base. You always post the most foolish remarks based on ZERO knowledge of racing. You CANNOT put a line behind a high octaine racehorse w/out seriously hurting both the animal & people around him. You'd know that if you'd EVER worked on a gate or w/ any horse of this calibur, at all, anywhere. That's how novices load pleasure horses onto a trailer. Now go away and sell those cheesy bridles, you preach about, to people who don't know any better. I thought we'd run you off before??!! We've met, so I've no intention of pulling punches with someone as ridiculous & self promotional.
On to lipchains (aka gum twitches), it really depends on the area you run, IMO.....almost EVERYONE that I know sends horses over in them.....very few horses reject them, & most enjoy the endorphine release, plus (!) grooms love the "power steering". Very safe AND comfortable for the horse.
Grabbing & thumb pinching an ear takes the focus away from a horses "No, I'm not gonna" tantrum much like when your granny may have tweaked your own ear as a child. When done well, no damage & task accomplished. Squeezing off air & using neck-holds are other ways. You're just applying the focus towards another area....not as cruel as it may look.
AND.....just what do you show people do when a horse refuses a jump, a trail obstacle, or cuts up during schooling, etc.? Do you coddle and pet him, or lay down the rules? I'm guessing you deal w/ them...and these horses are way more wound-up, takes A LOT to get their attention sometimes.
A gate card does not mean the horse is perfect in the gate.....some pretty rank customers get their cards. But he has been schooled in the gate & knows what he *should* be doing & he showed little class in that area. So what, continued work in that area. Such is life w/ horses. I don't know RH-X, but my guess is that Sat. was not the first time he was a weenie loading. Had they not gotten him in, it would have been a scratch & go home, wasting all the $$$$ & time. Bravo gate guys. Having played the 7-10 exacta w/ the 7 on top, glad they got him in.

J. Turner
May. 17, 2004, 08:52 PM
I wish that gate crew had been around a few long mornings trying to get my horse on a trailer to a show or afternoons into evenings after a show.

Toadie's mom
May. 17, 2004, 09:16 PM
ok, I'm really bored 2nite! I had to read all 3 pages of this just to see why it took 3 PAGES to find out how tall one horse is.

May. 17, 2004, 09:46 PM
Okay, I have a question - say RHT had continued to be a pill - how much longer would they have put up with him? What does it take to get a horse scratched that won't load or does that happen?

And JUST 17hh? He's got to be bigger than that - he looked HUGE! He made the other horses look like ponies.

May. 18, 2004, 07:23 AM

Boo, hoo.

Kellsboro Jack
May. 18, 2004, 07:40 AM
In case this wasn't seen by some, here are some comments on Rock Hard Ten ThoroughbredTimes 5/16 :"Lively Smarty Jones returns to Philadelphia after Preakness romp" (http://www.thoroughbredtimes.com/todaysnews/newsview.asp?recno=45071&subsec=2)

You can tell the owners of RHT are a class act by congratulating Smarty's owners - but its a shame that getting Gary back from France seems unlikely for the Belmont.


"The owners of Rock Hard Ten congratulated me [John Servis] last night at the hotel and I congratulated them for how well their horse had run and I said ‘You know, you should really take him back to California. He’s probably not going to like the New York track,'" Servis said with a laugh.

Orman said Rock Hard Ten came out of the race in good order and would ship to New York on Monday or Tuesday. Orman plans to work on the colt's gate behavior prior to the Belmont. The son of Kris S. created a long delay prior to the Preakness when he refused to enter the gate.

"He’s usually fine getting into the gate," Orman said. "I think what happened was that they didn’t put the chain over his nose. I told the starter if you put the chain over his nose, he’s fine. If you fight him, he goes the other way. But apparently they didn’t do it. Hopefully, that’s the problem and I can take him to New York and school him and he’ll be fine if they put the chain over his nose."

Orman said jockey Gary Stevens had not committed to making a return trip from France to ride Rock Hard Ten again in the Belmont.

"I’ll call Gary in a week and see what’s going on," Orman said. "I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding a rider if he doesn’t come back."

May. 18, 2004, 08:07 AM
I do agree that RHT needs gate training, and a line behind the horse can help with the training/loading/etc BUT it is not necessarily quick AND the horse can flip against it.

The gate crew is there to load the horses IMMEDIATELY (since the first loaded could have already been in a minute....which is NOT good). With a smaller horse they lock arms and push/pull the horse into the gate...they couldnt with this big guy and his firing at them. Do I believe in earing or gum chains? Not for training....it makes the horse MORE likely NOT to do whatever you are doing the NEXT time and the earing does make them headshy... ie: entering gate=pain).

Nevertheless the gate guys did their job and loaded the horse as quickly as possible. Without too much time, and trying each thing in order.

Now, the trainer ought to do his and (re)teach the horse how to load methodically. BIG horses often have a fear of this confined space....walking up and through (with the gate open) is the key in the first place. Or making a narrow space in the barn and walking the horse through. Often grooms turn the horse toooo quickly and the horse hits his fanny and then we get to this problem.

Obviously from Ormans comment they chain the horse in the first place, so there is already pain the in mix and resistance. I think they need to go deeper into fixing the underlying problem in the first place......but they mentality is there is no time and that they will be stronger than the horse.

May. 18, 2004, 08:09 AM
personally, as a sporthorse person, I hope he gets some manners and I wish Rock Hard Ten a long and sound career, and just pray he continues to place second in every race, so I can dream of him someday standing in a price range that makes sense for my mare.... Or maybe some sensible place that will ship frozen cheap for non-tb mares??? Wonder if he's homozygous for the black???

Hunter's Rest
May. 18, 2004, 08:21 AM
Uh, sorry. Think RHT is dark bay. Not black.

Kellsboro Jack
May. 18, 2004, 03:23 PM
Just some pics of Rock Hard Ten from last week:

AP: RHT exercise at Pimlico with John Byrne up (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040514/483/mdab10505141412)

Reuters: RHT exercise at speed John Byrne up (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040514/ids_photos_sp/r2944029494.jpg)

AP: RHT's size evident next to an adult male (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040514/483/mdab10405141404)

May. 18, 2004, 04:14 PM
ideayoda: What makes you think there is pain (there isn't) w/ a lip chain/gum twitch? There is pressure AND a calming sensation from endorphines that are released from that point. Not to mention a vulnerable area in your hands, and they well know it. Sure you can yank & pinch the area if you're rough and ill skilled, but it is applied with firm pressure and kept to a tightness prohibiting the chain from sliding & scraping.
Earing does NOT make a horse head-shy unless that too is done in excess or wrong. And it's not something the gate crew uses routinely in morning training. He won't be "re-taught", just do more working, starting, standing, etc., from the gate until he does it well. They can take away his card until he does, if bad loading continues. And NEVER is a line used. They just are not safe and no responsible person on the backside would even think of it.
RHX wasn't the worst loader ever, just highly broadcast. No big deal, really. He was being a jerk loading during a CROWDED event. His trainer has the knowhow to load him in a port-a-potty, if needed.

May. 18, 2004, 05:07 PM
For all concerned over lip chains, you'll note in Kellsboro Jack's last post (the last photo), RHX has a lip chain/gum twitch on. It's not unusual to use them for hotwalking, bathing, veterinary, shoeing, etc., & not just for the races. It's a safe way, for horse & handler, to manage some horses.

Hunter's Rest
May. 18, 2004, 06:03 PM
I really think a lot of ya'll are using chain over the nose for chain over the gum. I have never in my 38 years with runners seen a horse hotwalk with a chain over his lip.
But I digress.
I doubt VERY SERIOUSLY that RHT was measured with a nice, plumb straight bubble level stick by whoever claims he's 17 hands. Perhaps, but he looks bigger, and unless you put a friggin' stick on him, a reporter making a claim like that is silly. Hell, if the trainer doesn't have a bubble level stick, he doesn't know either.
So the simple answer to this rambling thread's querry is ---- dunno .....

Hunter's Rest
May. 18, 2004, 06:06 PM
Well I'll be durned - sure enough that RHT has a (latex covered) chain over his gum in the 3rd photo posted above, but still I've not seen horses hotwalked that way. But gosh, I stand corrected ...

May. 18, 2004, 06:20 PM
ideayoda - without having seen RHT's other loadings, I think its unfair to judge him, his crew, the gate crew or anyone else. I mean it was only his 4th start, and I can promise you that the other three didn't have even 1/10 the excitement, people, tension, delays, infield saddling that were presented to him during the Preakness.

That's a lot for any horse to handle his 4th time out. I'm sure he quite reasonably qualified as a bit mentally fried by the time he got to the gate.

That's not to say he isn't always difficult, but usually they indicate when a horse is tough to load, and I don't recall that being mentioned.

May. 18, 2004, 08:38 PM
They actually did have a chain over his nose at first. Didn't help.

When he started firing, that's when they changed to a gum chain, and when THAT didn't work, they went for the ears and the guys behind him.

He definitely needs some more schooling.

May. 19, 2004, 11:36 AM
Hunter's Rest....on the backside a "LIP chain" is slang for what some call a gum-twitch....either way it is VERY (as in VERY VERY)commonly used on tough/rank/antsy horses, or to treat them medically, or make them stand (for shoeing, grooming, etc.). You can wrap a chain in vet-wrap, buy a leather covered shank(as shown in photo), or just use the shank as is. Rubber tubing is another cover (but not as long lasting). Coverings are not just used on gums but on nose as well. Using a shank OVER the nose to load often makes the horse's reaction pulling BACK. Gate crews use a leather strap sliped through the bit or curb strap to load, as the norm. Most everyone uses lipshanks going over to the paddock, well behaved horse or not. Again, endorphines.

May. 19, 2004, 01:08 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hunter's Rest:
I agree 99.9% with your judgement - common mother that one. Big and tough. Yep, young. Yep, inexperienced. But a baby? No way. The folks that say those sorts of things don't have backside experience, which is fine, but DO NOT JUDGE a sport that you don't know inside and out.
My only .1% disagreement is that '99% of horses come to the paddock with the chain over the gum.' Uh-uh. 99% come to teh paddock with the chain over the NOSE. Not the gum. Very few come in with it over the gum. they don't like to move with it there (that's why it works so well for the farrier etc. to put the chain over the gum.) I've seen (and saddled) plenty with the chain over the gum, but not a large percentage.
But you're sooo right. The horse was being bad. They quickly caught it, put the sucker in the gate and off they went. Hated to see the others 'punished' by having to stand around waiting for him.
But, gawd, he is a lovely sucker. Wow. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well 99% may be a high figure, but at least 50% come to the paddock with a lip chain on. Every single one of mine do and some of them are as gentle as lambs. Lips chains work by realeasing endorphins which help relax the horse. Horses need to be as relaxed as possible prior to the race. Also I find that if you don't apply downward pressure to the shank, the lip chain doesn't have much affect, but is there if you need it instantly.
As far as Rock Hard is concerned, that horse needs some serious discipling IMO. Not only were there the whole gate antics, but also he refused to go into the washrack in the test barn. They lead him up to it and he swung his butt around, and that was the end of it. You never want to let any horse tell you what he is or is not willing to do, but especially not one this big. He could kill someone without meaning to very easily. There is a good side to him refusing to go in the washrack though, they took him outside and gave him a bath. I got to pet him and get my pic taken with him while he was out there!

May. 19, 2004, 01:55 PM
Hunter's Rest: I don't know how you've come to think horses don't like to "move" wearing a lip-chain/gum-twitch? Really, only a few will freeze up wearing one, but most rather like them once applied. We school EVERYONE with them (in a barn of 100+), during hotwalking, at least once before running, to make sure they'll handle it OK. Sometimes they'll walk fine a few turns then react....best to know this in the shedrow & not the walk over. But you'll get the same reaction with a regular twitch.....like when you go to scope one, a few will try to slap the mess out of you if you grab their nose. It has nothing to do with the twitch as much as just being fussy about their nose & being nervous. Work the sales sometime & see how much fun/variety restraints on yearlings can be! I consider twitching a part of a horses schooling, as it certainly WILL be something he'll experience throughout his racing career.

Lord Helpus
May. 19, 2004, 02:33 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by shiloh:
Okay, I have a question - say RHT had continued to be a pill - how much longer would they have put up with him? What does it take to get a horse scratched that won't load or does that happen? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

If what they were doing had not worked, the gate crew still had another couple of tricks up their sleeves. Probably next they would have blindfolded him by tucking a piece of cloth under the cheek pieces of the bridle and then spun him in a circle two or three times to disorient him. Then 3 - 4 gate men would give him the "bum's rush" before he figured out which direction the gate is in and get him in that way.

Another option is to take him around to the front of the gate and back him in.

In such an important race, these guys are going to do everything within their collective experience and physical ability to get a horse in the gate. Balancing this is fainess to the other horses and, of course, the incredible cost that NBC will incur if one horse causes a national telecast to run over its timeperiod.

In a maiden claimer at Ruidoso Downs, the gate crew is less experienced, the horses are less well trained but the schedule is less intense, so the amount of time taken may be longer.

I am no expert on this topic, but just by watching TVG a lot, I have seen a gate crew try to load a horse for up to 15 minutes. At one point, they took all of the other horses out and let them walk around while they continued to try with the recalcitrant horse. When they finally got the bad loading horses in, they quickly reloaded the others are started the race. I do not know if this is normal or not.

Monty Robers got his reputation of "talking to horses" partly from solving gate problems on some talented horses who were about to be warned off because of it. He designed and patented a blanket that goes over the hind end of the horse and then, once the horse is in the gate, it snaps to the sides of the gate, so that when the gate opens and the horse leaves the gate, he gallops out from under the blanket. This works on horses who panic because they cannot stand to touch the metal side of the gate. Monty figured out that this was the phobia of one famous horse and solved the horse's gate problems -- the horse went on to a long and successful career wearing this blanket to load.

If you watch racing long enough you will see such a blanket used about once a week, usually on the West coast where it was invented.

May. 19, 2004, 05:53 PM
The gate guys were absolutely professional.

The horse started with an attitude. He wasn't just kicking out, he was aiming for the people.

The crew went through their process, working through their repertoire of techniques until the horse responded. I was surprised they waited as long for the ear twitch.

As we were watching, I said -- Gee, I bet you some PETA folks are going to have a lot of uneducated things to say about this....

Kind of a shame since I think the crew handled well. When the horse decided that being a butt head wasn't fun anymore, in he went.

He wasn't so traumatized that he didn't run well. http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 20, 2004, 01:37 AM
LordHelpus - Thank you - I did not know all that. That was very interesting. I didn't figure they would give up too easily on him considering the amount of money being spent by all involved.

I didn't think the lip chain or the earing was excessive considering the way he was behaving. IMO, there was a rather deliberate look on his face the whole time. Again, IMHO....

Thanks, LH

May. 20, 2004, 11:13 AM
Anybody else see the official RHT hat?



May. 20, 2004, 11:25 AM
THat's great, I always wondered what they were referring to... http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 22, 2004, 11:56 AM
I was amazed - I was watching Smarty take off and when that FIRST happened live - i did not notice Rock Hard - Smarty was giving too great a performance but when they replayed it and the camera was at a front view - I was laughing because Smarty was in front at that time by 2-3 lengths and from the front, Rock Hard STILL looked BIGGER than Smarty. I was like - that is a vision eye play right there - I was comparing th height and width and it looked sort of like Rock Hard was right beside him but no - he was 2 horse lengths away! He is a BIG horse.

Everyone has to remember when talking about the methods used to get the horse in the gate etc etc that these horses are not there to race and be horses easy to pet and hack on the trail on. If Rock Hard will not get in the gate - he can't run. It is a major stakes race. This is his job. Yes, I think that horses should race later - like starting at age 5 and get more training and conditioning - but that is my little personal opinion - that is not how it is. I do not like ear twitching or using chains at all - I retrain exracers and use none of that but I have a completely different purpose when training than these horses get. It is a business and the business is speed and winning races. And I do agree - the only thing I place before the good of the horse is the good of the people - he is still a heck of a lot bigger and those kicks were strong. A 17.3 hand 3 year old - WHOA. Handful. And it looked ot me that he KNOWS how big he is. Sometimes one of the pluses to racing the youngins is they are not grown up enough to know they are big and can bully against us but that Rock Hard - he looked like he knew.

But I do not hold it against him - I mean, he is a baby - not raced much and with all the hoopla and tension around him - I am sure it was a little overwhelming. A lot of 10 year old show horses will forget what they know under stress and excitment.

Anyways - it will be neat to see how it goes in 2 weeks! I am really excited!

May. 23, 2004, 07:53 AM
Rock Hard Ten Goes To Gate School Saturday

Link to Article:


May. 23, 2004, 04:10 PM
Gary Stevens riding is almost nil as he has a conflict in France.

With that said, sadly I keep reading that RHX's owners are entertaining putting the much-disgraced CA-based jock, Patrick Valenzuela (P Val) on him for the Belmont.

Right now he is suspended from riding in California (and on any US track as well) for the month of June. Bloodhorse: Valenzuela to Sit Out Month of June; Can Ride Through Rest of May (http://news.bloodhorse.com/viewstory.asp?id=22528) However, reportedly he might appeal that sentence (handed down Tuesday 5/18) which would potentially open the door - during the process - to still hold a valid license for the Belmont.

P Val is a great jock, no question, but until he gets his life in order (yet again), I really would object to having RHX overshadowed or tainted with this conflict.

Anyone else think the same .. or not?

May. 23, 2004, 08:29 PM
Personally, I would pay him to ride for me, NOW not a couple of months ago. Everybody has ups and downs and if what is doctor says it true, my hat is off to PV for having the guts to try and make a comeback. I know that he would sure let RHT make one heck of a good showing.

May. 25, 2004, 08:52 PM
Bloodhorse 5/25: "Rock Hard Ten Works For Belmont...On Third Try" (http://tcm.bloodhorse.com/viewstory.asp?id=22644)

A very odd workout with RHX and P Val http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif


"Orman asked Valenzuela about the possibility of blinkers, and Valenzuela agreed there was a good chance they would help keep him more focused. Orman said he'll work Rock Hard Ten next Monday with blinkers, and in company this time. If he trains well in them, there's a good chance he'll wear them for the Belmont."

drifting cloud
May. 26, 2004, 05:40 AM
Glimmer -- I read that article and thought it was interesting/amusing.

Rock Hard Ten sounds like a handful!

May. 27, 2004, 09:18 AM
He wants to be a jumper, I think.... http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif