I have been searching for a long time to better understand the concept of distance and how the horse comprehends his own pace, if that makes any sense? I am seeking ways to devise better training tools for my horses that will allow me to introduce a more natural flow to distance and also assist my jockeys' strategy. I was hoping that perhaps your very in depth research may be able to shed a little light on this subject so we as trainers can maybe evolve the ways in which we breeze our horses. I hope to hear from you and please, continue your research; it is unique and highly beneficial for the horse and the human.
- Top 250 Trainer/USA
This is a great question and I also thank you for the compliments. When it comes to the ways in which we as humans see distance and the ways the horse see's or comprehends distance, our two observations are very different in some ways for sure. When we humans run a race we know we have a point A and a point B, and work to cover that distance in as short as time as possible. When a horse is put into the same situation, as in a race, the horse is simply acting upon the natural instincts we encourage, that is to gallop and do it more efficiently or faster than the next horse, yet the actual distance is measured only by the length of time the horse is asked to move.
We may look at an object that is 100 meters away, as our objective marker, the horse moves more or less in open space, without markers. For the horse the only difference between 5 furlongs and 8, is the time it is in motion and even this is of little interest to the horse in as much as he or she is on the move only as long as the interpretation of stimulus is asking for this motion.
The most difficult thing for us to imagine is infinity, for we gear our lives in such a way that we build boxes for which to neatly fit around our worlds. We are encased with starting points and ending points, the closest thing we come to naturally understanding how a horse envisions time and space is by the watch we wear that tells us we may be late if that driver in front of us doesn't get it going. Yet for the horse to be trained in such a way that will allow a natural flow of movement, we must understand that it is the time in motion that is the only measuring stick you need pay attention to. This then lends itself to the streamlining of efficiency which thus can be implemented by two things; the ability of the mind to focus on the stimulus that is causing the motion, and the environmental stimuli that influences the actual motion. That is to say, it is the senses and the interpretation of the individual herd dynamic that dictate the pace and the time of any motion.
A horse reacts to a blowing sage with a quick turn and one second motion, however the same horse reacts to an approaching predator or assumed predator, by staying the motion for a longer period of time. Thus putting in the horses' mind not more distance between he and the stimuli, but more space. It is important to understand that for the horse a predator is any perceived stimulus that evokes any sense of danger. The interpretation of, and therefore your use of, stimulus both as the cause of motion and the environmental influences that dictate time and direction, are the keys to balancing the mind and body, thus making your horse more efficient on the hoof. Efficiency then translates into speed and staying power. THT utilizes Variable Training Stimulus (VTS) in the form of Push & Sway and Cover Brush natural training dynamics formatted to befit your individual horse. Because each horse interprets and reacts to stimulus in different ways, it is folly to use one training protocol for 5 horses. That is the problem with the typical training facility. Too often these locations have far more to do with us than they do with them.
One rule of thumb you must keep in mind, the horse that can make decisions on the hoof more efficiently than the next, is the horse that becomes the natural leader, naturally.
Thanks for your question.