Weight Carrying: What It Means-Ill., Daily Racing Form, 1943-05-17


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The modern thoroughbred is one of the most highly organized nervous and emo ¬ tional of all domestic animals if not in deed the very most so And those who suppose that weightcarrying in races depends only upon his strength speed and soundness should bear that fact in mind mindWe We often see horses who structurally seem adapted to carrying high weights successfully They are strapping big fel lows brawny and muscular their action is good and they have extreme speed Yet when the test comes they are found wanting in the capacity to take up their poundage and handle it successfully thus relegating them to a lower class as per ¬ formers than had been legitimately ex pected In many cases their failures are with out doubt due to their nervous draw backs If they could talk and tell their trainers and riders what was the matter very often the shortcoming might be over ¬ come but as they cannot their status quo remains as is j I Any human being who has experimented with weightlifting or for that matter any similar physical test is well aware that the mental factor namely the nervous one involved is by no means negligible As the weight increases he finds it more and more necessary to brace himself and Jiuckle down mentally as well as physically if he is to go over the top In all sorts of athletic tests the same is true While allied to what we term gameness or courage it is not just that Mixed with it are other psychic factors of much importance I Modern Jockeys Seat Handicap HandicapI I j The psychology of the race horse being something about which we know but little I and never can know very much our ignorance is responsible for many of the mistakes that we make with them While in many cases he is psychologically speak j ing immeasurably inferior to man in some ways he is fully his equal and in some j this superior Though his impulses are in comparison very limited and his reactions likewise he being governed by instinct and not by reason what he does and why he does it are largely conditioned by his nerv ous reflexes reflexesin in a previous chapter of this series the modern monkeyonastick jockey seat was alluded to as one that was illadapted 1 to the carrying of high weights by race horses because of the fact that it removed the center of gravity from its natural place the back and distributed it along the withers and in the region of the neck and shoulders j In that way the heft of the burden car ried is thrown unavoidably upon the f ore t legs and feet to an abnormal degree seeing as has also been brought out that normally this portion of the anatomy is that upon j which the principal strain comes in gallop ling and that from time immemorial the thelikelihood likelihood of a race horse becoming un ¬ sound there is much greater than in his hind parts partsWeight Weight Badly Distributed DistributedIt It was algo remarked that not only was this the rule in addition the weightdis ¬ tribution was further complicated by an ¬ other fact Dead weight is still carried in the saddleflaps where a horse m y be f obliged to assume as much of it as twenty pounds it remaining there while the jockey has taken up his crouching position upon i the withers and neck of the animal with i his feet braced in his stirrups and his bodily f weight almost if not wholly removed from i Ithe saddle J In the now obsolete style of race riding which prevailed in former generations 1 such was not the case The dead weight ijWas localized so to speak where the jock eys bodily weight was and there was a i certain unity in their mass As dead weigh fc j jis much more burdensome than live the 1 modern splitting of the two must of neces ejsity j add to the tax imposed upon an x animal This however is not all by any means i Nothing is more notorious to all students s of the practical part of racing than tha t i the modern jockey seat has deprived the e j jockey of much of his control of his mount i The now obsolete one was incomparably y superior from that standpoint The immediate proof of this is the fact t that nowadays our race tracks are literally y bespotted by fallen and falling jockeys 5 which have become such a commonplace e of the sport that they no longer attract it attentionU more than the most cursory attention Before the modern seat was introduced d anything of the kind was so uncommon n that it created immediate excitement One e might go racing day after day and witness nothing of the kind But now if an after ¬ noon passes without it occurring perhaps r repeatedly it is an unusual one oneThat That the average modern jockey cannot see where he is going or how a great deal of the time is the common testimony That is one explanation Another and equally cogent one is that in general horseman ship the modern rider is much inferior to 1 his predecessor of former days daysThis This to speak impartially is not so much his fault as his misfortune due inlarge degree to the general disuse of horses in daily common life since the motor age came in A couple of generations ago the average healthy boy especially outside the big j cities was taken for granted as able to ride drive and handle horses capably as a part of his daily life and its exigencies The j exact opposite now prevails prevailsTimidity Timidity Cardinal Attribute AttributeTimidity Timidity being one of the cardinal at ¬ j tributes of the equine species all horses learn to depend to a great extent upon those who handle them Despite their in ¬ born tendency to panic fear in upsetting circumstances their confidence in their human friends and masters becomes so absolute that literally they will go through fire and water for them when nature Is prompting them to be off and gone regard ¬ less of the consequences This acquired bravery of the horse is one of his most wonderful attributes and cannot but move v us to the deepest admiration How well I recall making the first year ¬ 1 ling filly I ever owned to be unafraid of a railway engine The first time she saw one she almost went out of her senses when she found herself unable to get far away j from it and hours afterward she was still shaking and trembling with fright Before verylong she would stand within fifty feet of one that was hardly coming to a stand still with a deafening noise and make no bother at all allliders liders Have Poor Control ControlIn In a hotly contested race especially in a large and wellbunched field the race horse must depend upon his rider for guid ¬ j ance and safety and necessarily rely upon him for it in every emergency emergencyNot Not only Is this true under ordinary cir cumstances but the fact that nine tenths of all modern American horses wear slinkers limiting the normal range of their vision to a small arc of its expanse greatly intensifies the situation situationHence Hence the poor control which the jockey possesses ab initio because of his un ¬ natural seat is greatly reinforced by the semiblindness of his mount which faulty training methods have brought about in the shape of the blinkers Still again a good many race horses are rigged with martingales used for the pur ¬ pose of preventing them from undue throwing upward of their heads etc etc etcWhat What Horse Must Contend With WithBehold Behold then the tout ensemble of the current American race horse With his jockey perched upon him in an abnormal position bringing the center of gravity much forward of its natural place perhaps twenty pounds or even more of dead weight in his saddleflaps behind and divorced from the rest of his burden he himself semiblinded by his blinkers and perhaps with his head tied down to add to this disability plus his jockey riding in such a position that much of the time he does not see where he is going while his seat is so insecure that the likelihood of a spill is never far off what wonder that the natural nervousness of the animal is greatly intensified That this nervousness must be increased when lie is carrying high weights follows as a natural corollary It cannot be other wise It is bound to react upon his physical effectiveness effectivenessExperience Experience having shown beyond the possibility of contradiction that when we weget get up above 120 pounds in the case of a horse of genuine class a pound or two extra is sufficient to overweight him that in the case of highclass ones anything above 125 pounds calls for the best they have in them and that to handle 130 pounds or more is beyond anything but a agenuine genuine crack when racing irTthe best com pany while as a rule it means his defeat we begin to get a glimpse of the part that his nervous system must play when he finds himself obliged to put forth the most extreme effort of which he is capable capableThat That it adds materially to the mere poundages physical effect is a certainty To argue otherwise is to go against the facts

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