Reflections: Starter Steele Debates With Jocks; Argue One Stirrup Short, One Long; Is Practice Harmful to Horses?; Porter Roberts Has His Own Ideas, Daily Racing Form, 1943-06-14


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Nelson Dunstan REFLECTIONS By Nelson Dunstan Starter Steele Debates With Jocks Argue One Stirrup Short One Long Is Practice Harmful to Horses Porter Roberts Has His Own Ideas DETROIT Mich June 12 12Bryan Bryan Steele the oldtime race rider and now starter at the Detroit Fair Grounds was having some fun ribbing the boys in the jockey room One kid yelled out They tell me you were a bum jockey Bryan laughed good naturedly but to the next question Do you think oldtime riders were better than we are he quickly answered Positively I do Steele is qualified to give an opinion for not only did he ride here and abroad but the late Jack Keene once said Bryan was one of the best riders of twoyearolds he had ever seen Presentday jockeys like Steele and he likes them But they do not always see eye to eye During the banter the subject of the present vogue of riding with one stirrup high and the other low entered into the discussion It so happened that some six weeks back we had received a series of letters from a New York horseman on this very subject and he was not only bitterly opposed to the practice but thought The Jockey Club and racing commission should take action to stop it Never having been a jockey we were not qualified to pass judgment But we did ask many persons well qualified and the answers were so diversified we deter ¬ mined to scribble a column on it After listening to the jockeys and Bryan Steele the idea came back to us The horseman who wrote us and who was so bitter against the practice went so far as to call the jockeys who ride that way lunatics He said Sunny Jim FHzsimmons and the very capable ex jockey Frank Keogh saw no necessity for it He said that an oldtimer like Milo Shields pointed out that top riders like Willie Buchanan Otto Wonderly and George Odom did most of their riding with their knees and that Odom had told him it was a very rare occasion when in his day a horse unseated a rider or ran away going to or at the post as they do today He then quoted the ex jockey Joe Scherer and says He gave me the most pertinent reason against it and I agree with him thoroughly Scherer said that without perfect knee action control no boy could get the proper balance on a horse The exjockey went on to say that boys like Carroll Schilling Bill Knapp Johnny Loftus or Walter Miller always rode with both stirrups even My corre ¬ spondent did quote a prominent jockeys agent who defended the practice but practically everyone else he had interviewed was against it They are aping Donald Meade and Conn McCreary He closed one letter to us Both have abnormally short legs Longden Gilbert and still others have the right stirrup higher than the left anil from my own observations I am very much against it There are two sides to every story of course The practice is not a new one Roscoe Goose was known to have one high and the other low and he rode a quarter of a century ago But the thought struck us that if such prominent riders as Longden Gilbert and McCreary did it there must be a reason for it And more so if the practice has lived on down the years When Tod Sloan first rode monkey on the stick English horsemen either went into gales of laughter or denounced it as a monstrosity But Tod continued and won races In fact he won so many races he revolutionized the English style of race riding A fad does not live long but this one long and one short while not used by all jockeys is not a fad It has lasted too long So we asked Ben Jones what he thought about it I am opposed Ben said for I believe a horse constantly ridden with all the weight on one side will eventually break him down Many agreed with him and especially Lou Schaefer a good jockey in his day and the boy who developed Challedon to be a champion I am very much against the practice Lou said I never rode that way myself and very few of the good riders of my day did There is a lot of it today but I see no reason for it I doubt if it could be stopped however howeverSo So after our talks with owners trainers and ex jockeys you can readily see our interest in Bryan Steeles debate with the Detroit jockeys In the old days Mars Cassidy would not let you ride that way Bryan said and I see no reason for it today But ask the boys why they do it and maybe they can explain The first we asked was champion Johnny Adams Johnny just grinned and said I have always ridden with my stirrups even So I will have to pass the question From there on came a wide assortment of answers One youngster frankly admitted he did not know why he rode that way He said When I first came around I used to watch the older boys I have never ridden any other way and I think it aids more than it hinders in helping me keep balance Another contended that he could use his whip to better advantage and still another insisted he did it to aid the horse in rounding the turns Porter Roberts one of the most intelligent boys riding today says that he rides with his stirrups at even length with the vast majority of his mounts but adds there are times when he makes the change It depends on the horse I am riding Porter said saidThere There are some horses a jockey feels that he fits perfectly At least I do and I always ride those naturally or with the stirrups even The next mount may be a different type entirely and on occasions I make adjustments which whether they help or not make me feel more at home on the horses back Many of the riders agreed with Roberts in that they feel better and insist they sacrifice little or nothing in the matter of balance Remembering Roberts added we ride differently than the oldtimers for if you look at pictures you will see that they used the long stirrup and were not as high on the withers as we are today Maybe as Bryan Steele says the oldtimers could outride us Then again maybe they could not But I do know that many of our best riders have one leg long and the other short Some are smart boys who know how to ride If they do it they must find it is to their advantage There as near as we can come to it are both sides of an argument that has been oing on for quite some time If the practice of one long one short is harmful to the horse it could be stopped On the other hand most of the jockeys favor it even though they do not use it so it must have its good points

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