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Newbie to racing forum with question about the "pony" horses at the track

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  • Newbie to racing forum with question about the "pony" horses at the track

    As wonderful as some of the racing horses are, I have to admit that I'm always more fascinated by the horses that accompany them to the starting gate (is "pony" horses the right term?). Watching the Preakness, I feel the same way. Is there any information available anywhere about those individual horses? What about the way they're turned out--any significance as to the differences?

    Sorry if these are stupid questions!

  • #2
    Did you see the black and white Paint with no bridle? Just a string around it's neck?

    I *think* it was Friesian Fire's pony.


    • #3
      I didn't see the string around that ones neck

      but i nearly needed shades to look at the sparkling clean paints! Were they all paints? How cute! Kudos to the grooms, and of course, RACHAEL!
      Another killer of threads


      • #4
        They weren't all paints. They are always gorgeous horses, but I was especially impressed today.

        I'd be really interested to know if you could find individual information on each of the horses. I think for the most part they are all geldings.
        "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
        Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
        Need You Now Equine


        • Original Poster

          Yes, saw that one and loved it! There was also a bay, I think, that had braids that stood straight up--very cute. I'm a huge fan of "behind the scene" horses (lesson horses, "practice" horses, etc.) no matter the discipline.


          • #6
            I was very impressed with the behaviour of the two that stood just outside the gate - on trackside - and had that thundering herd bearing down on them once the bell rang. Yikes! What is their purpose ?
            Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.


            • #7
              Originally posted by tarragon View Post
              Did you see the black and white Paint with no bridle? Just a string around it's neck?

              I *think* it was Friesian Fire's pony.
              I noticed that today as well.

              One of my neighbors picked up a very nice black and white paint at the auction this fall, supposedly he was a track pony horse, he is awesome, nothing rattles him, and her boyfriend trail rides him (and he is a newbie rider). I think the pony horses are worth their weight in gold.
              There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


              • #8
                Originally posted by allpurpose View Post
                I was very impressed with the behaviour of the two that stood just outside the gate - on trackside - and had that thundering herd bearing down on them once the bell rang. Yikes! What is their purpose ?
                Those 2 are outriders.......their job is to catch loose horses and help out if the jocks get run away with.
                Member of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique

                “This is not a game for little boys in short pants.” LeRoy Jolley


                • Original Poster

                  So there's no way to find out more about these horses? Are they privately owned by the riders or what?


                  • #10
                    that person is called an outrider

                    there are several on this forum who post. maybe one will see this thread and post. I have never seen such dazzeling clean ponies as I did today-they were awesome
                    Another killer of threads


                    • #11
                      The ponies were on average better turned out then some of the racehorses lol Such a pretty post parade.

                      The two just outside the gate also are there to run down any horses that might break the gate, or any problem that might happen after the break with a horse/rider. They are very fast and very good at their jobs. We had a horse break through the gate before the start last week and the outrider's pony caught the errant horse, pulled them up and brought him back to the gate in about a blink. I trail ride with several of our track's ponies and their owners during the off season and on dark days and they are just the coolest horses. They can be owned by individuals (in which case the individuals usually have a string of 2-4 horses each) or owned by a stable and used with their own racehorses to accompany them to the track. They are stout, tough geldings who can take a horse basically trying to climb up on their withers or threatening to kick the crap out of their sides in stride and keep their minds on the job at hand.


                      • #12
                        The pony or lead horses are usually privatley owned by the "pony people"...

                        Sometimes a trainer will own a pony that does afternoon work, and an employee of the trainers will take their horses to the gate. It's also common for there to be a few people that have a "pony business" and own several ponies, and hire the "pony people" to ride them (giving them a percent of the money earned).

                        Some of the pony's are ex race horses... (usually the outriders horses are, because they need to be almost as fast as the horses running in case they have to catch one.) It takes a very well mannered horse to become a lead pony... and one with much patience. No kicking or biting allowed, they must be able to deal with horses acting up next to them, and leaning on them.

                        The good ones are really priceless at the track!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by allpurpose View Post
                          I was very impressed with the behaviour of the two that stood just outside the gate - on trackside - and had that thundering herd bearing down on them once the bell rang. Yikes! What is their purpose ?
                          As someone already commented they're there to help catch a horse that breaks loose. Remember Barbaro burst from the gate at the Preakness before it opened? That outrider "pony" caught him pretty quickly.


                          • #14
                            I always was fascinated by them too - I wondered whether they were employed by the track itself, or hired "freelance" and how they qualified. They always seem like wonderful horses. Neat to find out more about them.


                            • #15
                              I thought I'd mention that it's the trainers that employ the pony people for that race, the pony people are free agents of sorts. But the track does employ the outriders, but doesnt supply the ponies.


                              • #16
                                So does the trainer of each particular TB choose the pony for that racehorse? Do they choose them to match the needs of the racehorse, and do the TBs already know the ponies before they meet at the track? I mean, do they work together outside of the actual races? Sorry if that's a dumb question!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by twofatponies View Post
                                  So does the trainer of each particular TB choose the pony for that racehorse? Do they choose them to match the needs of the racehorse, and do the TBs already know the ponies before they meet at the track? I mean, do they work together outside of the actual races? Sorry if that's a dumb question!
                                  Not dumb! We have a "pony girl" (lady actually) who we pay to pony our horses in parade. She has a few horses, and in general we do not have to ask for anything special other then accompany our horses on the track, warm them up and hand them over to the gate crew. If she is committed to more then one horse in the race, she will decide which one she needs to personally accompany (usually the tougher one because she will know the horse better), and hand the other over to either someone who works for her and is using another of her ponys, or give or trade off with another pony person to take that race and she'd pay her for it or help out in another race.

                                  There are times though that a pony person will know a horse is particularly tough and choose to use a particularly gutsy pony from their string, or a trainer may request the pony ask permission to accompany the horse in the saddling area or in the walking ring to keep them calm(er). Or a trainer can forego a pony altogether and leave the jockey alone in post parade. I personally find that cheaping out unless the horse absolutely is worse off with the pony, as a pony person can usually regulate the warmup easier and help the jockey and horse not do too much pre-race.

                                  And lastly, some trainers do send their horses out to the track in the morning with a pony to exercise so they may meet there as well. Sometimes without tack, sometimes with, sometimes with a rider, often this all happens while starting the horse into race training or coming back from injury.

                                  Hope that helps!


                                  • #18
                                    Did Funny Cide ever pony horses in the races, or did he just work in the mornings?

                                    He's gotta be one of the most famous pony horses.


                                    • #19
                                      OK, dumb question here. What's with the flowers and other stuff woven into their manes? We saw so many different styles, especially in the Kentucky Derby.


                                      • #20
                                        Yes, gorgeous ponies for sure....
                                        This was the first race I ever watched, other than vids of my OTTB on Calracing.

                                        What was the white tape or rope or whatever it was in some of the TB's mouths? I noticed a few had it.
                                        "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
                                        Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65