THT Bloodstock

Herd Dynamics / Behavioral & Mental Profiling / Sensory Soundness / Equine Athletic Psychology

THT Bloodstock-Glossary of THT Terms


Behavioral Overcompensation: Occurs when one sensory avenue either by physical limitation or psychological aberration overcompensates, resulting in body language eruption and/or loss of mental and physical efficiency.


Buddying-Up: Occurs when a mid-level herd horse seeks the comfort of movement with another horse. Buddy-up horses are dependent on another horse for safety, direction and rhythm of motion.


Emotional conformation: the mental and emotional psychology of a horse, that makes up who they are. It includes the way they communicate, interpret stimulus, and almost everything they do, including compete on the on the racetrack.


Group herd dynamic (GHD): a horse’s awareness of the group around it. GHD goes hand in hand with the ability to interpret multiple stimuli without loss of efficiency. A horse with a good group dynamic can see/feel the big picture. An efficient group dynamic allows a horse to interpret herd chaos. Many horses with big group herd dynamics will prefer to be in the pack early in a race in order to read the other members of the groups’ intentions. They are in fact sizing up the field and determining where they want to go as time-in-motion unfolds. But some GHD horses can be just as effective on the front end. GHD gives horses situational versatility.


Herd dynamic: a general term we use to describe a horse’s overall herd level (its group and individual herd dynamics combined). 


Individual herd dynamic (IHD): the dynamic that involves just the self and a singular target. Example: a horse engages in a pace duel with one other horse, not thinking about the rest of the field, the length of the race, or anything else. IHD is one-on-one FIGHT. Horses that rely too much on individual herd dynamic will get lost if they have too much stimuli to interpret. They also are bullies. Things are great until they meet someone who is tougher/faster in the moment. Front-running horses that only run their best races when they are near the front of the herd, where there are limited stimuli, are usually overloaded in the individual herd dynamic. These can be great horses, but they are not versatile. Some strength in the individual herd dynamic is INTEGRAL to being a good racehorse, but the best horses usually are strong in both dynamics – STRONG in one-on-one battle but EFFICIENT in chaos.


Anticipatory Response: A response that comes from anticipation, based on environmental circumstances. An anticipatory response precedes the actual stimulus. It is a learned response that becomes a habit. The anticipatory response mechanism can be used for learning and growth. However, an improperly functioning sequence can create aberrations and inefficiency.


Egg:  The horse’s egg is the space around the horse, varying in actual foot-distance by the individual, that is its personal space and area of influence and interpretation. Shaped much like an egg is shaped, it is the area where stimuli are efficiently interpreted.


Emotional Conformation Profiling (ECP): The study of a horse’s Mental/Emotional Intelligence & Ability in three key areas; Trainability, Herd Dynamics, and Behavioral Genetic Traits.


Mental Efficiency Zone (MEZ): Mental distance aptitude, expressed in race distance. The amount of time/distance a horse is able to efficiently operate from a mental standpoint.


Pattern Of Motion (POM): A naturally occurring or learned response to the stimulus of a horse race. A pattern of motion develops every time a horse engages in a workout or a race.


Controlled Response: a controlled reaction to stimulus, equating to controlled movement.


Reactionary Response: a frantic response to stimulus equating to uncontrolled, inefficient movement.


Sensory Lead Change: The act and ability of identifying stimulus within each sensory field (eyes, ears, feel) and efficiently sharing that information between the senses.


Sensory Lead Change Efficient Transition: The ability to continue with a focused physical movement without compromising efficient movement, while identifying and properly interpreting stimuli that are being processed by various senses: eyes, ears, rear feel.


Sensory Lead Change Sticky Transition: An inability to properly and efficiently transfer stimuli from one sensory avenue to another with efficient interpretation; thus disrupting efficiency of physical motion.


 Primary Sensory Interpretation: This indicates what sensory avenue that is used as the default interpretation avenue; eye, ear, feel etc., which one of the senses is relied on the most for interpretation of environmental stimulus. Horses have natural inclinations from a sensory basis.


Sensory Dependency: The use of one sensory avenue over another to interpret stimulus even when such stimuli could be more efficiently processed by another sensory avenue. This dependency often precipitates reactionary and sticky transitions and inefficient physical motion.


Purposeful Motion: Efficient, willful movement, including reactions and non-reactions to stimuli, based on proper interpretations by the sensory system. High-level herd dynamic horses move with purpose in response to situational chaos, never losing control of their reactions to the environmental stimuli of herd motion and chaos. Thus, physical speed and movement is purposely controlled to fit the circumstance, as a naturally occurring act of self-preservation.


Flock Affect: The naturally occurring pattern-of-motion where an individual horse (mid to lower level individuals within the herd hierarchy as well as the infirm) seeks the safety of the herd when high levels of stress and chaos are impressed upon them regardless of physical ability. This stems from the naturally occurring “safety in numbers” aspect of a social species living in a group in open space and is first introduced as a foal when encouraged to stay near the mother for safety; thus becoming a naturally imprinted behavior.


Elite Potentials: Youthful horses that begin to display emergent properties of body control and leadership of peers based upon developing efficiency of their sensory system.


Direct Focus: The singular point of focus at any given moment upon one point of stimuli or perceived stimuli. *The equine sensory system is a complex super highway of identification, interpretation and surveillance. Focusing on singular points, everything else in the sensory field is experienced peripherally; making smooth sensory transitions important. This is vital for an animal designed to live in herds in open spaces and is a key component to becoming a herd leader and accomplished athlete. Mid level horses depend upon their peers in the herd to complete their sensory circle. One of the main reasons the herd environment offers a sense of security.


Floating: The time during which the physical horse and the psychological horse are loosely or altogether disconnected, causing the body to drift and “float” as the sensory system becomes hypersensitive to environmental and/or perceived stimulus. 


Filtering: The process of interpretation; as the sensory system delivers stimuli to the mind, the “psycho-sensory system” filters the information to determine the required response. The filtering system is not largely affected by the type of stimulus itself but is governed by both natural instincts and learned behaviors.


Interpretational Reach: While in motion, interpretational reach reflects the physical distance away from the body a stimuli is identified and interpreted comparative to the actual time it takes to arrive at its origin. If the horse mentally interprets efficiently the speed of movement will not slow or be altered as it moves through the cleared path. The further the natural Interpretational Reach, the more efficient the horse during the time of motion. Efficiency of Psycho-Sensory thus manages the efficiency of physical movement; it is within this efficiency zone that optimal performance distance and or time of activity, is found.