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Tracking up = athleticism?

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  • Tracking up = athleticism?

    I know people sometimes put those two features together but is there really a solid link? Do you guys see a correlation with tracking up and jumping ability? I'm just wondering about the mechanics a little...

    Of course, I'd love to hear that there is, since my youngster over tracks as much as 12" in the walk. (It's almost weird to watch sometimes!)

  • #2
    Based on my oh-so-unscientific study of about 10 horses I'd say no. the extreme examples are the 17.2 TB who had a canter to die for, at least a 12" overstep at the walk was just not a fabulous jumper and tended to fake the dressage and maxed out at about 3'3".

    Followed by 2 mares who don't have good walks but are fabulous jumpers - catty, quick etc. One is too lazy to track more than one hoof more, and the other was always in too much of a hurry to walk so it was hard to tell!


    • #3
      Originally posted by subk View Post
      I know people sometimes put those two features together but is there really a solid link? Do you guys see a correlation with tracking up and jumping ability? I'm just wondering about the mechanics a little...

      Of course, I'd love to hear that there is, since my youngster over tracks as much as 12" in the walk. (It's almost weird to watch sometimes!)

      I think it is an indicator.

      I've actually won money at the track picking the horse whose walk I liked (moves like a cat and over tracks).

      My big horse...one scopy SOB....has a 10+ walk. Over tracks easily...could jump a bus with ease....I should just make him a jumper.

      But to me it is more than do they just over track....it is their entire movement.

      I had one TB who over tracked by a lot...but was also heavy over his shoulders. He was a lovely mover...but I had to work really hard to improve his balance for jumping and the way he carried himself. He turned into a lovely 3' hunter (and hack winner)....but not the light easy jumper you would have thought if you just looked at his over track at the walk (or looked at him standing up).

      I think their natural balance is most important.
      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


      • #4
        Yes, I would say there is a definite link, but a lot effects tracking up - horse's conformation and length of back, farriery, etc.

        After changing farriers, two horses I work with began to overstep at least 3-4", (after a gradual series of appointments) when they had been barely landing in the same track. The breakover point in the proper position made a huge difference. Another horse always had a huge overstep, but the new farrier said the breakover point was too far forward, probably "exaggerated" for better movement. Corrected, the horse had less overstep, but was greatly improved in way of going and ease of movement. He was much better at dressage and turned around from horse who pulled like a freight train to nicely submissive. Still a good mover but able to use himself to the greatest effect.

        Length of hip can also alter this; horses bred for dressage have a longer ratio from hip to stifle than those typically bred for jumping. This will affect overstep as well. It may not indicate better "athleticism" per se, but probably more suitability to dressage. A well bred horse of any type though should overstep, so you can't just say "dressage horse" or "jumping horse" based on that. So you see, there really isn't a definitive answer. It is something I examine, however, particularly in youngsters and unproven horses. I give track babies a lot of leeway in this area because of how they are shod and usually jigging or walking short, but good tracking up would improve my opinion of any properly shod sporthorse.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
          I've actually won money at the track picking the horse whose walk I liked (moves like a cat and over tracks).
          I've won money at the track the same way! But what struck me that time wasn't the over track (I can't remember it) as much as it was the cat-like thing and how the horse moved out of her shoulder. I can still visualize it years later. That and my mad dash to the betting window dragging a small child!


          • #6
            Originally posted by subk View Post
            I've won money at the track the same way! But what struck me that time wasn't the over track (I can't remember it) as much as it was the cat-like thing and how the horse moved out of her shoulder. I can still visualize it years later. That and my mad dash to the betting window dragging a small child!

            LOL...too funny...I would so do the same thing if i had a child in tow!

            Yeah...it is more the cat like movement that I am drawn to...but I don't think I've ever seen a horse that moves like that who also doesn't over track...
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


            • #7
              I would imagine that tracking up well would correlate with (among other things) shorter backs and longer legs.

              I owned a very good jumper that had a crazy overtrack at the walk (esp when unfit, oddly), but almost none at the trot, fwiw. So I'm not even sure if walk and trot overtrack are always correlated.


              • #8
                I've known a couple in particular with a huge overstep and absolutely no athleticism whatsoever. One was exceedingly short coupled and had awful sickle hocks and a totally lateral walk. He had a HUGE overstep but man he was a horrible mover otherwise, and it was scary to watch him jump. The other had a HUUUUUUUGE walk but she had a longer back and tended towards being lateral, and ended up having no talent for collection whatsoever. As an opposite, my own mare has a very correct walk but overtracks by only a hoofprint or so. She is quite athletic in comparison to the other two mentioned.
                Eventing-A-Gogo: Adventures of a Barefoot Event Horse and her Human
                The Reeling: An Unexpected Mareventure


                • #9
                  I think that they are not really related. Overstep/tracking up has to do with conformation, and athleticism has more to do with their neurological makeup. That's why some horses with great conformation are not athletic and some horses with poor conformation are.

                  Most of the really athletic cat-like horses that I have known have been only average or slightly above average movers.


                  • #10
                    The walk and canter are related. A horse w/ a good walk tends to have a good canter.

                    Tracking up or overtrack itself tho' is not an indication of athleticism - short backed short coupled horses almost always overtrack and they can be some of the toughest horses to get over their backs and through..

                    the cat thing tho? Pretty reliable
                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                    • #11
                      My trainers horse naturally tracks up A LOT at the walk. He is a TB and very athletic. However, he is not a terribly good jumper. I don't think you can correlate tracking up specifically with jumping, only that the horse is athletic. My horse doesn't track up at the walk naturally anywhere near her horse, but he can, given the right situation. He is a fantastic jumper and LOVES to do it. Tracking up is a good basis to go on, but you must look deeper to see what each horse is talented in.
                      Some days the best thing about my job is that the chair spins.


                      • #12
                        I think "tracking up", staring only at the horse's footprints, is a bit misleading and inadequate when identifying athletic quality.

                        I *do* think it is possible to discern athletic ability from a horse's walk, but you must look at the whole picture: how the horse covers ground with his whole body. How do the shoulders and stifles swing through? Does the energy flow through the neck and back? (providing the cat-like "slink?") Are the hips strong but loose, creating a long, powerful stride?

                        Staring only at the overtrack is sort of like only watching the horse's head in dressage. Just because his neck is arched and on the vertical doesn't mean he's doing quality work. Look at the whole picture to make a better judgment. Horses with proportionately long legs naturally are predisposed to overtracking a lot-- but they may be uncoordinated and gangly.

                        When buying yearlings as racehorses, buyers must appraise the horse while standing still and walking a short distance. From this, they must discern future potential...possibly with million$ at stake. So obviously the walk can tell you a lot, but it's part of an overall assessment. (Can you imagine buying a Rolex prospect only watching it walk?? Yikes, I'm not good enough for that!)

                        Generally, an athletic horse will have a better walk than an unathletic one. Generally, athletic horses are better jumpers. But, there are probably just as many exceptions. Jumping requires an important mental capacity and desire that cannot be observed at the walk.
                        “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                        ? Albert Einstein



                        • #13
                          I dont think you can 'just' look at the walk and tell if the horse is a good jumper.

                          One of my TB mares had a AMAZZZZZZING walk. I boarded at a respectable Hanoverian breeders and she always commented on Pumas walk (We called her Puma because she walked like a cat). She moved with her whole body and had a big overstep. She however was not the most amazing jumper. Good correct form but not a whole lot of scope (prob would have topped out at 3'9").

                          My old broodmare, not the greatest walk, correct but not much overtrack (she did however get a 7 on her walk at her AHS inspection somehow) but she was a really good jumper.

                          My new mare doesnt have a very good walk, like the above but not as nice. she is BY FAR the best jumper out of them all. Today i decided to free jump her for fun. She popped over 4ft like it was nothing with jaw dropping form, cracking her back, square knees to her eyeballs, and a nice relaxed hind leg. on most days she barley track ups. When she trots she likes to pretend her hind legs are a sewing machine.
                          "Let the fence be the bit." - Phillip Dutton


                          • #14
                            Here's what I think:
                            - a great walk with a huge overstep suggests that i horse has some athleticism
                            - some really athletic horses don't have a huge overstep.

                            Necessary and sufficient conditions (anyone remember that from university?)


                            • #15
                              Yes, "it must be cold for it to snow, but just because it's cold doesn't mean it's snowing" That theory?


                              • #16
                                Well, your average TWH tracks up at the walk like nobody's business but the breed isn't exactly known for its gallop and jump.