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"How so many things in U.S. racing seem designed to harm the horse"

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  • "How so many things in U.S. racing seem designed to harm the horse"

    This is an interesting article by British expat Patrick Gilligan (currently assistant trainer to Ken McPeek). He makes a lot of common sense points. It would be nice if the powers-that-be in racing were listening.

    https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/a...ed-harm-horse/
    www.laurienberenson.com

  • #2
    Thank you for posting this - really excellent, and very thought provoking. I loved Patrick Gilligan's book about his first year in the U.S. with his son (an apprentice jockey, at the time). Quite entertaining.

    https://www.amazon.com/Around-Kentuc.../dp/1732889201

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for posting that!

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree with most of his points. I strongly agree with him about how we train our horses. Our regimented, left-hand only training methods are matters of human convenience, and antiquated ones at that. When horses had to live and race in urban areas to reach gamblers, it was necessary. With simulcasting, online betting, and improved access to transportation, there is no reason we couldn't revisit how racehorses live and train. I know many on this board strongly disagree with my opinions on this, as I've shared them before, only to be ridiculed and thrown under the bus.

        Lasix is such a tricky subject. Lasix is not without benefit to the animals. But I feel like we over-rely on it and downplay its risks. I especially feel like we downplay how its regular use may (or may not) interact with the other pharmaceutical and/or lifestyle factors in American racing. Hastily removing Lasix is not the answer. Gradually adopting other reforms to racing so that we don't need to rely on Lasix would be a better way to approach the change, in my opinion.

        I think we were too quick to pronounce artificial surfaces "failures." But I also don't think they are a panacea.

        Some of his points I find a bit hyperbolic, particularly his stance on bute. Threshold levels of bute are not "strong painkillers." Forgive my ignorance, but can you still race on a dose of bute in any state? I thought everything was threshold levels these days. And what is it in most states: no more than 1-2g of bute 24 hours out? I wouldn't be heartbroken if we removed threshold levels, but I don't think bute alone is influencing breakdowns. Rather, I think the fact that some horses are so sore that they need to be maintained on bute to train is the greater issue.
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

        Comment


        • #5
          Interesting read with much food for thought.

          The comment on no race day meds meshes with the recent report from Grayson that Lasix is actually more effective the day before the race rather than day of. Patrick's retelling of a horse he raced for many years that was a bleeder and and never treated with Lasix was interesting along with the thought that maybe bleeders shouldn't be bred.

          I like turf racing but also feel in some areas of the county, not enough rain to support the type of turf surfaces seen across the pond, IMO.

          Wonder if racing would stay successful if dirt was eventually replaced by Tapeta across the US tracks (thinking along the lines that it took a few years to get SAFER barriers in all the top tier race tracks after the death of Dale Earnhardt but still happened).

          Thanks for posting this!
          When you start to observe, you become more effective... your movements soften, you see more, you are more available to becoming a team member. Be an Observer first, a Handler second.

          Comment


          • #6
            Might take longer then the SAFER barriers with no single, ruling body.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by findeight View Post
              Might take longer then the SAFER barriers with no single, ruling body.
              True but NASCAR doesn't own all the tracks. Having said that, you could install SAFER and keep racing the top tiers or we'll find tracks who will pay to install.

              But more an example of a sweeping change that was both expensive to implement and taking time to implement and install.

              Also many more horse tracks where the issue might need to be addressed but perhaps starting with the 'top tier' TB tracks (ie, big name) and work down from there...
              When you start to observe, you become more effective... your movements soften, you see more, you are more available to becoming a team member. Be an Observer first, a Handler second.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by nelson View Post
                Thank you for posting this - really excellent, and very thought provoking. I loved Patrick Gilligan's book about his first year in the U.S. with his son (an apprentice jockey, at the time). Quite entertaining.

                https://www.amazon.com/Around-Kentuc.../dp/1732889201
                I loved Patrick's book. He's an entertaining writer and so many things he spoke about rang true.

                I could have done without his analysis of every racetrack bathroom he'd ever visited, though.
                www.laurienberenson.com

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                  I agree with most of his points. I strongly agree with him about how we train our horses. Our regimented, left-hand only training methods are matters of human convenience, and antiquated ones at that. When horses had to live and race in urban areas to reach gamblers, it was necessary. With simulcasting, online betting, and improved access to transportation, there is no reason we couldn't revisit how racehorses live and train. I know many on this board strongly disagree with my opinions on this, as I've shared them before, only to be ridiculed and thrown under the bus.
                  I don't know how any horseman can't agree that it's stupid to only train horses in one direction around a circle. If the tracks are resistant to change--and they are--it's stupid that the training centers don't lead the way, especially since they are mostly dealing with youngsters.

                  The training center we've used for the last 6 years has 2 tracks and a long grass gallop. One track is an undulating 5/8 mile. The other is a mile long teardrop. Both have a buoyant artificial surface and training changes direction every other day. Which only makes sense to me.
                  www.laurienberenson.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

                    I don't know how any horseman can't agree that it's stupid to only train horses in one direction around a circle. If the tracks are resistant to change--and they are--it's stupid that the training centers don't lead the way, especially since they are mostly dealing with youngsters.

                    The training center we've used for the last 6 years has 2 tracks and a long grass gallop. One track is an undulating 5/8 mile. The other is a mile long teardrop. Both have a buoyant artificial surface and training changes direction every other day. Which only makes sense to me.
                    Most of my racehorse experience comes from working with the Standarbreds, so I didn't know that the Thoroughbreds were only trained in one direction. Are they only exercising in one direction?

                    With the Standarbreds they normally only jog (exercise) in the opposite direction that they race.

                    Also both of the tracks we usually race out of have jogging tracks that aren't track shaped. The one at our home track actually has a figure 8 option. It's quite nice going through the trees, would be nicer if the deer and horse flys weren't so bad.
                    ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by jvanrens View Post

                      Most of my racehorse experience comes from working with the Standarbreds, so I didn't know that the Thoroughbreds were only trained in one direction. Are they only exercising in one direction?

                      With the Standarbreds they normally only jog (exercise) in the opposite direction that they race.

                      Also both of the tracks we usually race out of have jogging tracks that aren't track shaped. The one at our home track actually has a figure 8 option. It's quite nice going through the trees, would be nicer if the deer and horse flys weren't so bad.
                      jvanrens at all the tracks I've been to, horses enter and jog clockwise (against traffic) hugging the outside rail for a couple of furlongs. Then they turn and gallop counter clockwise in the middle of the track for whatever distance the trainer has specified. The track's inner rail is reserved for horses who are breezing.

                      All TBs exercising on a track are always galloping in the same direction--counter clockwise--unless something has gone terribly wrong.
                      www.laurienberenson.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The more or less set routine for training hours at any TB track in North America is that horses jog to the right then gallop to the left.

                        In say, 1935, when race tracks needed to be along train routes in cities, it made sense to cram as many horses as possible on to a postage-stamp sized piece of property. And it made sense to implement strictly controlled traffic patterns for training with so many horses in such a small place. And it made sense to only race one direction when building monstrous grandstands and complicated systems to keep races running smoothly throughout the day.

                        But that is not the world we live in anymore.

                        I think places like Japan got training facilities right, balancing classic horse racing as we know in America with an improved quality of life for their horses. Land is at way more of a premium there than it is here, yet they have created these incredible, government-funded training centers where horses have so many more options than what we can offer on our backsides.
                        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nelson View Post
                          Thank you for posting this - really excellent, and very thought provoking. I loved Patrick Gilligan's book about his first year in the U.S. with his son (an apprentice jockey, at the time). Quite entertaining.

                          https://www.amazon.com/Around-Kentuc.../dp/1732889201
                          Thanks, just downloaded it.
                          "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm always surprised that more owners don't keep their horses at private training farms. Turnout, a training track that's not crowded, training in both directions, dirt and turf? I guess my filly is spoiled. Hope she appreciates it.

                            But there are many lessons we can learn from looking abroad (although my filly is in VA...)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

                              I loved Patrick's book. He's an entertaining writer and so many things he spoke about rang true.

                              I could have done without his analysis of every racetrack bathroom he'd ever visited, though.
                              He had me at “rooves.”
                              "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                He had me at “rooves.”
                                I'm a writer so he had me when I glanced at the copyright page and saw "Random House" as the publisher. That brought me up short as this was a very unlikely book for them. Then I looked again and realized I'd misread it. The publisher was actually "Random Horse".
                                www.laurienberenson.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

                                  jvanrens at all the tracks I've been to, horses enter and jog clockwise (against traffic) hugging the outside rail for a couple of furlongs. Then they turn and gallop counter clockwise in the middle of the track for whatever distance the trainer has specified. The track's inner rail is reserved for horses who are breezing.

                                  All TBs exercising on a track are always galloping in the same direction--counter clockwise--unless something has gone terribly wrong.
                                  Thank you for explaining how it's normally done IYE. I'd have to travel about 4 hours to get to the closest TB track and have only managed to get to one once, Saratoga on race day, so there definitely wasn't any exercising going on. It was an enjoyable couple of hours in such a beautiful setting! Since my SO has his NYS trainers license we were able to get in the backstretch which made it more enjoyable to me.
                                  ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by jvanrens View Post
                                    I'd have to travel about 4 hours to get to the closest TB track and have only managed to get to one once, Saratoga on race day, so there definitely wasn't any exercising going on.
                                    There was still probably exercising going on but in the early morning
                                    When you start to observe, you become more effective... your movements soften, you see more, you are more available to becoming a team member. Be an Observer first, a Handler second.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Not probably...the majority of the horses get exercised whether there are races or not. Just have to be there from dawn to about 9am.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                        Not probably...the majority of the horses get exercised whether there are races or not. Just have to be there from dawn to about 9am.
                                        I really knew that but not being that close to the industry, didn't want to definitely say exercising in the early morning and then have someone with closer knowledge than I tell me I wasn't correct
                                        When you start to observe, you become more effective... your movements soften, you see more, you are more available to becoming a team member. Be an Observer first, a Handler second.

                                        Comment

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