Mr. Thomas, I have been in the thoroughbred industry the greater portion of my life, I have recently read your latest essay regarding Breeding for Behavior in the Hybrid Thoroughbred and have found this to be perhaps the most influential piece of writing since Tesio wrote his Breeding The Racehorse. Seeing your depth of thought on the subject of the horse, my question is what are the psychological differences from setting a pace and training for, or obtaining a certain speed?
- Mr. Weld, European Thoroughbred Industry
Mr. Weld, thank you for the accolades on my essay I very much appreciate your kind words. In regards to your question about pace and speed I will start out by stating my personal mantra from which I stem my work in the area of equine mental agility and focus.
Pace is determined by the mental ability to focus over a given space of time, speed is determined by the physical ability to react within that given space, motion thus becomes the collateral affect of the two combined.
Think of it this way; take a long distance runner as compared to a bullet from a gun. The bullet has speed, but it cannot have pace, for it is dependant solely on the influence from which it erupted for its time in motion. The long distance runner can have both pace and speed, because his time in motion is reflected by the pace he keeps, which is determined based upon mental recognition of both the motion itself and the stimuli affecting it. The runner's time in motion then, is reflective of his speed controlled by the pace, which can go up or down. The bullet only having speed, is moving as fast as it ever will at the eruption of motion, slowing down ever-after because it has no pace to control or influence that speed.
The Thoroughbred Race Horse is a runner, not a bullet. Therefore knowing the ability of focus, manifested in the herd dynamic level naturally occurring in the horse, as is the inclination to move up, will assist you a great deal both in understanding your athlete's natural ability and potential level in training, as well as the development of training protocols; making actual pace something that can be trained for if the ability is inherent, through breeding and or nurturing/training. As for the speedy bullet, it will be only as fast as the impetus of motion, dying off after the start.
You don't want your horse to follow the same path, therefore it isn't always the speedy horse you seek but rather the horse with a high degree of focus, and focus agility. This is determined in the Emotional Conformation of your horse via an EthoGrade evaluation, the P-Typing indicator used as a guide. (See services.) It is important to note that focus ability and steady or elevated pace, can be trained in association with time in motion. This means that you can nurture the inherent mental capacity to elevated levels with perceived stimulus, I use Variable Stimulus Training. This stems from the concept of association, or for the horse triggers by way of association. This works in a similar manner in humans; I could not always remember the code for my keyless entry by itself however I could get the same result desired, by using association. The numbers were 33957. I just always drew a blank until I associated this with 33 Heinz 57. I used the ketchup name to power my association, and to this day have never forgotten the association. For a horse, you can use variable types of similar stimulus in association, to gain your intended result on a consistent basis, and in time, this develops what seems to be anticipation. When I say even a part of the equation, I immediately get the complete number. The trigger being for me, Heinz, for your horse, he or she will certainly develop this same ability to anticipate an intended result.
Speed being the by-product of pace, true training must first embrace the expansion of the mental capacity and focus agility while in motion, so the horse doesn't lose pace with the influx of stimulus; your athlete having the ability to focus for an extended period of time, is your key to success.
Motion is motion, this training can be a separation from the physical stamina trained for, and it can be done in youth, without taxing the sometimes too-young physical structure. If you nurture the mind and allow the body to evolve to its needed strength, when you begin your real training for the track, your youngster will have a serious leg up on the competition who overlooked this reality.
Kerry M Thomas
Founder of Thomas Herding Technique