As an equestrian, I have an appreciation for the equine athlete and what is needed for their training and care.
In the thoroughbred racing industry, the horse’s athleticism is the height of a horse’s potential. While watching the horse and rider in their morning exercises, there were times they would gallop down the track at full speed, and other times lightly “breezed” or cantered slowly.
I know what it takes to stay on a horse, let alone one that is galloping at full speed ahead and the brakes rather lacking. It requires a lot of balance, bravery or perhaps even stupidity. Which caused me to be even more impressed with the riders on these powerful beasts and even more so were the amount of women riders that were present.
When you’re on a horse, you have to keep on constant alert as to what is going on. But amazingly, these riders were so comfortable on a galloping horse they’d be looking down, around and even at me as if they were sitting in an easy chair.
They stand in the stirrups and let the rocking motion of the horse power flow underneath them. One rider was so confident that she just stood there. Wow….
As for the equine athlete, they are well conditioned and love to run. Racing though is very hard on the animals as they are forced to perform well before their bodies are fully developed as many of these horses are under four years old. Also, as they can be quite hard to handle and humans have defaulted to the short-cut of using harsh and cruel equipment to control the horse.
Overall the horses I saw that morning weren’t being overly stressed and the bits not as harsh as they could have been. But there is still a lot of pulling on the horse’s mouth to keep him in control. And having ridden a galloping horse I totally get it, it’s a necessary evil to keep things safe.
It’s an exciting experience to watch these equine athletes thunder down the track and Laurel Horse Track is a fantastic place to get close to the action. I hope to be back on a sunny day to spend some time along the track.