Negative Equipment - Part 2

Joe Takach

Article Library





Last week we discussed front wraps and liniment.

We’ll now continue with run-out bits, blowouts and stops.

Run-out bits are employed on horses that can’t or won’t run straight.  The hope is that increased jockey leverage will prevent this horse from lugging in or out.  They are also sometimes referred to as bear-out bits.  

The increased leverage comes about because the actual bit is extended up to 4 inches out of either or both sides of a horse’s mouth.  This offers the jockey quicker and sharper control. 

Run-out bits sometimes help, but most often they do not.  Horses get out on a turn because they are moving too fast to successfully negotiate the turn which is sometimes the case and forgivable, but more likely, they get out because they’re sore or their natural conformation is seriously defective.

Either way, they have a hard time grabbing the surface while attempting to run at all-out speeds!

While a leveraged bit certainly can’t hurt a problematic runner outside of possibly distracting him as he runs, very rarely can they overcome birth defects or the need for an extended vacation.

Any time that you repeatedly attempt to correct a horse’s running path, he will slow himself down somewhat to successfully move to the path that the jockey wants him to run in.  If he doesn’t slow down a bit, he could begin to drift in or out. 

The effectiveness of a  run-out bit usually comes into play when the horse begins to tire.  As he begins to slow down, his natural tendency might be to lug in or to lug out.  In either case, the bit is employed to offer the jockey more control.  The more control he has, the better his chances of keeping his horse running in a straight line.  If his horse stays in a straight line, it greatly lessens the chances of bumping or fouling another rival.    

It works better in theory than in practice! 

If a horse is really tired or sore thru the stretch, no racing bit on earth will keep him running in a perfectly straight line.  Again, these bits can’t hurt a horse, but they should put you wise to the fact that this horse has a very serious problem.

Before I get a letter from a know-it-all hardboot trainer, I’ll also mention that these run-out bits are sometimes used with “rogues” that need strong handling while in competitive situations.  These rogues are neither sore nor do they have conformation defects.  They are merely horses with bad attitudes for any number of reasons.  While these bits do work in a few isolated cases, few trainers go to the bank with headstrong horses who have a mind of their own.

Run-out bits are always a no-no!

Blowouts and stops are probably the most frequently seen pieces of negative equipment outside of front wraps.  I spend quite a bit of time in my video BEAT THE BEAM offering the viewer many frames of these quite obvious white patches that can easily be seen via satellite monitors for those wagering off track at a simulcast outlet.

Blowouts are white adhesive patches placed on the inside of one or both rear knees.  They are found on horses who “hit themselves” when running.  They can range in size from a 2 inch square or circle to an elongated configuration that runs down the inside of either or both rear legs.

These blowouts allegedly serve as shock absorbers to relieve some pain when the inside knees begin hitting each other, while hopefully stopping the skin from cutting and bleeding.

The first cousin of the blowout patch is the “stop”.   These are also adhesive patches about the size of a silver dollar.  They also serve the purpose of a shock absorber because horses adorned with them are also hitting themselves.  (Once in a great while you’ll see “rubberized” black stops held on the rear hooves with black electrical tape).

Stops are placed somewhere directly above either or both rear hooves.

In this instance, the front hoof or hooves hit directly above the rear hoof or hooves with each and every stride as they are running.   I would assume that “stops” got their name from the fact that they are supposed to “stop” the horse from feeling this excruciating pain when he “hits” himself.  Frequently, they fall off within 10 or 20 direct hits and the horse returns to the unsaddling area sans his “stops” with rear hooves covered in blood.

Horses racing with either one of these VERY NEGATIVE attachments are most often losers before the gates open unless you are playing in the minor leagues where all horses are so problematic that it is a matter of degrees with each and every negative problem.

Imagine yourself to be a horse running your eyeballs out and all of a sudden your rear knees start banging against each other or your front hooves have been striking your rear hooves since the gates opened.  You might mentally want to continue in an attempt to win, but good sense or even “horse sense” tells you to ease up----if only a little bit.  We as handicappers all know exactly what relaxation can do at the wrong point in a race. 

It’s one thing to relax at the 1/8 pole when you’re ahead by 5 lengths with nobody coming at you---its another thing to relax at the ¼ pole where the real race begins! 

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want my horse to feel is pain of any kind----either on the far turn or when turning for home.  I want my steed thinking about the finish line and getting there first, not the pain he’s experiencing in his rear legs. 

It’ll be tough enough to finish the race on all four legs!  Asking him to do it on only two, is nothing but wishful thinking!

With extremely rare exceptions, “blowouts” and “stops” are always no-nos on any MAJOR league circuit.

Next week-----PART 3---Barshoes, covered frogs and martingales.


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