Some Peculiarities of Race Horses: St. Simon Nervous and Excitable-Queer Attachments-Cure for Gate Fear, Daily Racing Form, 1908-01-17


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! ! SOME PECULIARITIES OF RACE HORSES. St. Simon Nervous and Excitable — Queer Attachments — Cure for Gate Fear. Steiie-- of the peculiarities of race horses abound in the annals of the turf. Strange mannerisms. handed down from father to son. remarkable traits of character, and still more remarkable friendships, an- the gossip of the stables, and of those outside, who profess to know all that is to lie known. But trainers say thai eccentricity is rare in horses, and that a Bjnal many displays i.| nerves are merely symptoms of some disorder, which it is their business to delect. At the same lime, says an ustralian writer, there seems ti be a general opinion that the members of eeiian great families are more nervous and exeit-thie than ethers. Mr. James Bedlearn. Sl. whoso as a trainer goes back many years, regards Ihe St. Simon stock as very prone to excitability, thoiiuii he admits that that Brail is often Obliterated bjr an even tempered dam. Mr. James Seobie holds the same oppinion. T think We have loo many of tin- St. Simon blood out here." he remarked, when questioned on the subject. -The St. Simons have a tendency to be nervous and excitable. In my opinion, our horses are Incoming more fractious and highly-strung every year. The kind of site that is most wanted out here is the Carbine stamp of horse. He would have made one of the best -ires that Australia could have had, and it was a gnVat pity iliat we ever lost him. The Carbine horses are tremendous workers, with no lerves tft worry them." Some of the proclivities which horses display on the course are iimxplainable. The Chesters. for instance, could never gallop on a soft course, and were seldom any good when called upon to make their own running. A pacemaker was always nec-essary to bring out the best that was in them. The Soults. on the other hand, like to get away in front, and make their own running. Positano, which is a St. Simon, comes from a stock which is renowned for staying power. The Haut Brion stock, although closely related, do better over a short course. The Muskets are good over either. Speaking of peculiarities, Mr. T. Payten, who has had ■i vast experience, quotes a remarkable ease of a horse which, while doing trial gallops, would never pass another on the outside. Run him on the inside and it was a very different matter. Every trainer has his own ideas of how to deal with horses which are timid and easily disheartened. Some animals never seem to overcome their objection to the starting gate, but on this point at least there seems to be unanimity as to what is best to be done. "Lead your horse gently up to the gate." says Mr. Redfearn. "and let him feel it with his nose. That organ is a good deal more sensitive than the palm of your hand, and if the horse is once satisfied that jt is all right there will be no more trouble." Mr. Seobie agnes with this view. "The gate has never given the horses any trouble," he said. "I think the diflieulty arises through worrying them aliout it too much. If a horse is fractious, the oftener he is brought up to the gate the worse he- gets. Even a bad-tempered horse will get used to the gate if he is led underneath it once or twice." Instances of extraordinary friendship between race horses and other animals have been frequently quoted. The great Godolphin Arabian, father of the famous Melbourne line of descent, struck up an Mcquaintaiice with a cat. which ripened into comradeship. The friendship proved fatal to the cat in the long run. the horse overlying it while asleep in his stall. He never recovered from the loss of his irieml. but pined away and died. So the old sptvris say. at all events. This case is not unique, and apparently cats stand high in the estimation of hors.s. The English mare. Pretty Polly, however, was more orthodox In her friendship, and chummed up with a small pony. Birdcatcher, father of a great line of horses, was never content unless in the companj- of pigeons. Simmer, the sire of Dividend, rejoices in the companionship of two goats, and is in his happiest mood when they are near him. They roam atiout in a rive-acre paddock, and there would be trouble indeed if anyone ventured to separate them. Regarding their attendants and jockeys, they are sometimes equally capricious. There was a boy who constantly looked alter Sweet Nell, and the mare became so used to seetag him about that she would never endure being attended to by anyone else. Strangers are almost invariably kept at their distance. An instance of this was experienced lately by Mr. Douglas Fry. the animal painter, who had a coin-mission to paint a well-known race horse. It took him a week of patient coaxing to get within sketching distance of his model. Addiction to the bottle is frequently referred to as a common equine vice. But the intemperate horse seems to labor under a grievous disadvantage in having no pockets to his clothes, and no money to put in them if he had. " Whisky is occasionally given to horses whose courage in an emergency wants screwing to the sticking place. The owner of a certain horse, which ran a good second at Randwick ou one occasion, was considerably amused when discussing the race later with its rider. "He rolled ahead in such a funny way. said the jockey, "that you would have thought he was drunk." It happened that he was, hut the owner did not say so. "We tried it for an experiment. he explained, in telling the story. "When he was sober he could win if he liked, Continued on second page. SOME PECULIARITIES OF RACE HORSES. Continued from first page. but he didnt want to. He would lead the field into the straight, and it was a case of putting your glasses down. Then you would look up and see him running last." Another famous whisky drinker was owned by Mr. William Chirnside. and trained by Mr. Red-fearn. After a big race at Warrnambool, which the horse won. the trainer rather astonished the company by pulling a lemonade bottle full of whisky out of his pocket, and holding it up for the horse to see. It drew him like a magnet, and taking the bottle In his mouth he swallowed the contents without a wink. Mr. Scobie says that the feeding aud training of horses are very different from what they were a few years ago. The diet is lighter, and the work less nowadays. But the result is that the horses are faster than they were twenty years ago. though he cannot nf to what extent this may be attributable to the improvement of the courses. Every horse is fed differently, aud the moment he shows signs of going off his feed lie is given an overhaul. It may be that his liver is out of order, or that he is suffering from some other ailment with whieli human beings can sympathize. Mr. Scobie empha. sizes this point, because he does not hold with those who are constantly suspecting foul play and stiff running. "My rule has been," he says, "to always trust the boys who are riding. I do not believe that they could possibly work together. On one occasion in Sydney I was not satisfied that everything was right, but I was not quite sure even then. That is only one case iu many years, and, if I say, as I do, that I would confidently put my money on a horse which 1 believed could win. and would trust the rider to do his best, I do not think that the public-should hesitate to do the same."

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