HANDICAPPING Part 3
thoroughbred’s ears offer many clues to his mental disposition as well
as to his upcoming performance. These invaluable signals are readily
visible to all handicappers including satellite players.
most desirable ear position is pricked upwards
positive position shows that the horse is interested in
his present moment activities and unless momentarily distracted by something
behind him, his ears will remain in this position until loading into
the starting gate.
ears are the normal position of a “ready”
horse. Any deviations from this “norm” signal that something could
ears strongly suggest extreme anger. The ears
are swept back and flush against the head.
horse simply doesn’t want to be where he is at this moment for any number
of reasons. If he’s sore and knows he’s about to be asked for 45 speed
to the half, he’ll pin his ears. He simply doesn’t want to go thru
this “racing thing” in pain. Or, perhaps his groom rudely awakened
him 45 minutes ago from a deep sleep and he simply wants to go back
accompanying pinned ears are many other signs of
irritation to include head tossing, foot stomping,
east/west tail swishing, heavy kidney sweat, front leg sweat
and overall fractiousness.
horses with pinned ears are wasting precious energy (both
mental and physical) needed for the upcoming race. Even if they become
tractable and calm down 2-3 minutes to post after a solid pre-race warm-up,
they’ve probably left their race in the paddock
if any, offer more than token resistance during the actual running of
the race. They’ve been acting like losers ever since
they entered the paddock and confirm their negative posture with a substandard
put, stay off them!!!!
ears are also a no-no!
not as annoyed as the angered horse with pinned ears, a horse with flickering
ears is distracted by something.
could be nothing more than a mental distaste for racing, or it could
be mild discomfort from an aching ankle or knee.
ears flicker because he simply isn’t paying attention to
his surroundings and forthcoming event. He could care less who wins
this race. This is frequently reflected in the way he quickly falls
to the rear of the pack once the gates open despite the forward urging
of his jockey.
this very negative ear position is a lack of energy of any kind when
entering the paddock area. Usually these horses barely shuffle along
while kicking up the loose dirt as they make their way to the saddling
stall. Their heads are dropped low and rarely rise above their shoulders.
look like also-rans and run the same.
lethargy is evidenced by flopped over ears.
negative ear position can be brought about by soreness or extreme tiredness.
These horses usually enter the paddock with their heads so low, you
wonder how they continue to move forward without falling over.
you look very closely at their faces, you see half-closed eyes and a
very sad look. Every step appears laborious. Absolutely nothing about
their posture suggests readiness of any kind.
with flopped over ears most often retreat from the break and play caboose
crossing the wire.
ears are the only acceptable position. They signify both
good health and a positive attitude for the upcoming race. They will
complement the entire deportment of the “ready horse” and give him that
in handicapping jargon, horses with pricked ears win countless
more races than horses possessing negative ear positions!
always, a caveat is in order.
ear movement away from the pricked position on the “ready horse” is
perfectly normal and acceptable.
a “ready horse” hears something unfamiliar and is distracted, his ears
might turn towards the sound until he satisfies his curiosity. Or,
he might turn his ears backwards when his jockey is attempting to communicate
with him or the outrider. His ears will quickly return to the pricked
position once the distraction is gone.
pricked ears are the only correct position-----the winning position!
week we’ll take a look at tails and how they offer essential
clues to an upcoming performance.