Unlimited access >

Having been an active eventer, I say nonsense to this, and shame on the Guardian for printing it

1 Like

Do you mean the article has been withdrawn from the Guardian? If so great, as the owner of an OTTB who wouldn’t run 'til she saw a jump. Loved CC, jumped at 3’9", hated the dressage phase. :grinning:

1 Like

Nice that it was mentioned that there are responsible, humane trainers. This mainly seems to be a reaction to the outrider and Rich Strike at the end of last year’s Derby. And yes, that looked bad and shouldn’t have happened. But I’d like to know what the author of the article and the neuro scientist would have done had they been sitting in the outrider’s saddle.

We have 3 OTTBs here now, and I’ve had several before. They will run laps around the pasture, vying with each other. I can’t believe they don’t enjoy it. And I can’t believe that Secretariat was running in fear and pain in the Belmont.

(Former eventer here, too. )


Lots of Pearlclutching in that article :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

While I agree TB racing here is hard on what are ostensibly still babies - 2yo January 1 :expressionless: - & this year’s Derby is sure getting a bad start, what is described as “fear” & “distress” in the article’s reference to Finish Photos looks different to me.

I had an Also Ran Never Raced OTTB* & he loved nothing more than to gallop.
Being a weenie, I’m sure I never had him flat out, but I sure felt him drop under me & GO when we rode out on trails alone.
Dressage was a trial, jumping Fun, but going Xcountry was his fave.

*Ponied at tracks from 2-6 when I bought him from the Trainer at Arlington
Failing his 2yo Speed Test :smirk:

Well that sounds like a load of quacky pop-science.

Does racing have its flaws? Absolutely it’s under heavier scrutiny than any other discipline and probably does more to be proactive about certain flaws than we’d see in other pockets of the horse world.


I just looked up the one finish line photo I have of my OTTB (won 3 races out of 9 total in his career, first 3 all in a row then nothing). He doesn’t look scared or tense to me. :laughing: Photo would’ve been from '07, he was 3 years old, all four hooves are off the ground midstride, his ears are up and forward, his bit kiiiiiinda looks like it’s pulling the corners of his mouth a bit much (mouth looks kinda stretched) but since y’know, I am NOT a jockey nor do I know what my horse would’ve been like at 3 and this was within his first 3 races of his brief career so I tend to not assume the worst scenario here. Nostrils are flared but I’d expect that given he was racing 5-6 furlongs, IIRC and was hauling his 16.3 skinny butt fast enough to cross the finish line first and it wasn’t a close race/photo finish. He sure didn’t look tense or unhappy (I do still recall when I subscribed to equibase and watched some of his old racing videos there was one video where the jockey just kept after him with the whip and the more the jockey did that, even in crummy low-quality video, I could see my horse’s ears going back and him visibly slowing down like, “screw you, you’re gonna do this, I won’t run.” I was like, “yup, that is definitely something my horse would do.”)

I never did gallop him but I do remember it felt like he had an extra gear to his canter, there was the big, slower canter that’s what you’d get if you asked him to canter and if you got him doing that and asked for a canter again he’d kick it up a gear into this faster canter where you could start feeling the speed. No idea what it might’ve been like to actually gallop him, I didn’t have the riding skills or space for that as a teen.


I still remember watching mine run a couple laps around the field with two old QH geldings (my boy was probably between 5-7 at this time, QHs were probably both in their late teens or maaaybe 20). one day.

1 Like

My three late OTTB geldings might have raced through fear or pain, just because they were such nice guys (although I’m sure they didn’t because they loved dueling with other horses when I took them on trail rides).

But the three OTTB mares I’ve had? Hell no. If they didn’t think they were being treated fairly, their jockeys wouldn’t have stayed in the saddle long enough to get to the gate, much less run in the race.


Took a closer look at the pic I posted upthread.
I see ears in Listening to Rider position, no fear or pain noticeable :smirk:
Maybe he knew he wasn’t in a Big Race :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I like how they chastise anthropomorphizing horses while anthropomorphizing right in the title of the article.

I can agree racehorses are under the influence of adrenaline and cortisol. But that is in no way the same as “fear and pain.” Adrenaline masks pain for cripes sake (part of the reason racing injuries can be so catastrophic- the horses don’t realize they are hurt immediately). Adrenaline and cortisol also don’t have to equate to “fear.” Any sort of anticipation creates a similar biologic response.

So anyway, congrats to the author for taking “kernels of truth” and distorting them to fit the narrative.