Energy - Part 2

Joe Takach

Article Library





Last week we said that there were 5 basic types of energy levels and covered the first 3 in some detail.  We’ll complete the picture with 2 more.


The energy level or posture of a pacifist isn’t hard to spot, but is often difficult to interpret.  Many of them win races every day.  They offer some signs of readiness, but fail to display a level of aggressiveness that would indicate a forthcoming top effort. 

They are more animated than either the walking dead or half-dead, but are a far cry from the “ready” horse.  Many carry themselves well while walking very correctly with heads elevated.  Good color and correct muscling are not uncommon.

The pacifists demonstrate very little willingness or unwillingness to participate in the goings on.  You wish they would show either more characteristics of losers or winners.  At least then you could retain them as contenders, or toss them out.       

Pacifists are just kind of “there”.  Though they will canter or lightly gallop when asked, many go flatfooted at first opportunity.  Some offer very acceptable pre-race warm-ups and would be instant bets if they were just more animated and seemed interested. 

You’ll find that older horses dominate this pacifist classification.  Many have participated in

40, 50, or even more career races.  They’ve been down the road so often that while sometimes willing to race and give their all, they won’t telegraph it the same manner of a younger more aggressive “ready” horse.  These more experienced troopers just go out and do their jobs day in and day out.  Using energy levels alone don’t always tell the whole story with pacifists.  But when you couple their energy levels with their other physicality traits (good or bad), betting decisions usually come easily and without hesitation

My initial advice to you with pacifists is to wait until you see them win under the same conditions with their overall “physically” looking exactly the same.  If they’ve done it in the past, they can do it again.  This is doubly true if their respective field on any afternoon contains nothing but unready horses who are either dead on their feet or fractious and wasting precious energy.

If the pacifists are the only horses walking well and warming up properly in the pre-race, they’ll have no difficulty beating lesser problematic types.  Never be hesitant to accept a pacifist as a wager in a field of losers with no “ready” horse clearly apparent.  The pacifist is usually ready enough to beat nothing!   


In addition to acceptable muscling, color, tails, ears and correct walking, “ready” horses have high energy levels.

The “ready” horse conducts himself like a winner from the time you first see him until unsaddled in the winner’s circle.  His unmistakable domineering posture is hard to miss or ignore.  There is neither timidness nor trepidation in his demeanor.  He’s ready to roll!

Ready horses can’t wait to get saddles on their backs and sometimes gently lunge forward in a playful manner when encountering the first attempt to go under tack.  They frequently have a hard time containing themselves.  The operative word here is “gently”.   Gently isn’t forcefully charging forward with the groom and trainer in tow.  Gently isn’t rearing up or wheeling in an estranged state of rage.  Gently is gently.  Gently is controlled.  Gently is playful and gently is fully acceptable from a mutuel standpoint.

His playfulness is not an annoyance to his groom or his trainer.  Both have put in a lot of effort to get their animal in top condition and wouldn’t think of compromising his chances of winning by mistreating him in any manner.  They are fully aware that even the slightest abuse can turn a totally ready horse into a stone loser!  If they can keep him happy right up until loading, he should perform to expectations.

Once saddled the ready horse might start to get a bit more aggressive.  This is perfectly normal and a very desirable behavioral trait.  It reflects his heightened awareness that “showtime” can’t be too far away.  When led around the walking ring, the ready horse is often up on his toes with his head tucked in towards his handler.  If really on edge, he’ll be snorting loudly and intimidating those he hasn’t yet convinced of his imminent victory.

Every one of his movements is measured and controlled.  There are no erratic gestures of unwillingness.  There is no random waste of energy.  There is no fractiousness.  The ready horse is all business.  It’s his race and he knows it!

When the riders come out of the jockey’s room, try to grasp their mental attitudes.  If a jockey is on a “live one”, he’ll most likely walk crisply and directly to his horse.  He’s not shooting the bull with the other riders.  He has a planned strategy for the upcoming race.  See if he checks the saddle after shaking the hands of the owners and trainer.  This is a very positive sign!

Why would he check the saddle you ask?  Simply because he intends to ask his horse for everything and doesn’t want a slipped saddle to cost him the race.  This is a great nuance angle and one that should be added to your repertoire if not there already.  (We’ll go into much greater detail on the “ready horse” to include the post parade and pre-race warm-up when we discuss the “ideal” ready horse a little bit later in this series).

By now you should have a good grasp of energy levels and attitudes. 

Even if you are playing via the satellite beam 3000 miles away, energy levels are impossible to hide as I clearly demonstrated in my 90 minute physicality video “BEAT THE BEAM”! 

Energy levels are great “tells” as to a horse’s disposition to his upcoming event.  If he’s walking flatfooted and lifeless, that’s the kind of performance that usually follows once the starting gate opens.

If, on the other hand, he’s “alive” and walking with his head well over his shoulders, at least you know he’ll be competitive if not the winner.

Next week--------Negative equipment.


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