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Body Language

Updated: Dec 26, 2023




It's th' season for parties, get togethers and people rejoicing the holidays with family.


I got an assignment for you. Yes, I am putting you to work for the holidays.


Here is your assignment:


Watch everyone and see their collective emotions. You know, Crazy Uncle Joe who is always loud and obnoxious, but today is subdued, quiet or the usually cool and calm Cousin Butch, sweating profusely.


You know old sour Grandpa Don, usually sweating buckets, is the same old Grandpa Don, sweaty, smelly, complaining about not enough alcohol in the eggnog.


Notice it all, and then picture a paddock, post parade and warm up, as horses work their way to the starting gate.


The Cousin Butch horse is cool and calm, in his pre-race warm up, is getting hot, sweaty, and has those legs of his looking like pistons, up and down, up and down. Cousin Butch is worried about something, nervous energy.


By the end of your party, Cousin Butch is exhausted and falling asleep on the couch. Cousin Butch, the horse, is fractious at the gate, in the gate, breaks slow and rushes up and stops. Done early. Easily foreseeable.


That performance in itself is all about emotional, mentally, not physically fell apart.


Meanwhile, Grandpa Don, is his usual self, smelly, sweaty, nutty, but as he gets closer to the gate he gathers himself, becomes professional, stops sweating and run his race from the gate.


Just like us, human beings, horses are extremely emotional, some hide it well like us, some are very demonstrative.


Watch your family and friends, and start assessing to yourself their own emotional mindset, then take that and do it in the paddock, post parade, and warm up all the way to the gate.


A nervous horse in the paddock, is on his toes, dancing, prancing, expanding energy, on the track, piston legs, on toes, THIS IS NOT POSITIVE.


The more animated the horse is it is not 99% of the time not positive.


That horse will be 1st to come off out of the post parade and taken to be all alone away from horses to get him to relax.


There are some barns that will keep a sharp well mannered horse with the pony. If a horse is away from the pony I find it negative, unless they are two-year-olds first time starters, as they need to get their head in the game.


If your horse is warming up, up and down the backside, he is sore and rider is trying to get him to warm up, and if he doesn't, he is most likely a late scratch. Racing around before the start of the race is not positive.


I like a horse that looks like he is asleep in the paddock, and genuinely interested and their focus picks up going to the gate.


A horse that starts to sweat profusely leading to the gate and looks like he or she is shaking waiting to be loaded is telling you 'I don't want to run'.


Females, fillies and mares, can be explosive mentally, and if you set one off, it's take a lot of work to bring them back to center.


Some of you guys are nodding with familiarity.


A big work too close to the race, too much work leading into the race, sets them over the top. Wheeling back a horse too soon after a big effort is also a poor management decision by the connections. It all shows in the paddock, post parade and warm ups.


It takes about three weeks to truly judge a horse out of a race, yet some trainers love the three weeks between starts, I hate it.


The fast work within 15 days of a big race is not an indicative of sharpness, its indicative of still on an adrenaline high from the race, will regress mentally from there. Too fast too soon and they go the other way, especially fillies.


Some trainers push their maiden winners into high level Stakes events within week or two, they run horribly, and then it takes a year to cycle them back. Trainers are like Cinderella step sisters 'they have to go the Royal Ball'.


So, go to your Christmas, Hannukah, New Years and people watch and envision a paddock.


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