THT Bloodstock

  "Competitive edge is found where the psychological athlete divides the physically talented;

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Psycho-Sensory System & Speed

Posted on January 19, 2015 at 11:45 AM


Psychology of Motion

Psycho-Sensory System Relative To Speed

Position Paper


Kerry M Thomas


Having just returned from the 2015 Keeneland’s January Sale, we at THT Bloodstock had the enjoyable opportunity to take a couple days and visit the now two-year-olds we helped select in the fall of 2014 and observe their training as well as spend a great deal of time speaking with the trainer and team working with the horses.

Our goal is to supply any stable with high herd dynamic, competitive-minded, intelligent athletes by sifting through horses at the sales much like panning for gold. Thus, it is gratifying to see and hear just how “easy, willing, and advanced” the horses in the program are. Everyone likes coming to work, everyone likes riding them, and the team, to a person, takes an emotional interest and personal investment in the part they’re playing in the program because they have horses they love to be around. This kind of nurturing goes a long way.

Seeing the horses click through the coaching steps as if they’ve done it since birth, advancements in training and creative coaching for the individuals has more flavor and can be more easily explored. When the trainer is asked by other trainers how the new horses are doing, does he think he has any good ones who are training well early, he smiles and replies, “all of them”.

This is great news early-on for sure, but the next obvious question of importance I get is, “do high herd dynamic horses, horses with superior psycho-sensory systems, then have the ability to run faster because of it?” I answer this by saying; a sound sensory system alone will not make the horse run ‘faster’ but it will allow the horse to run more efficiently.

Among the more important questions we answer during the inspection process is, does a particular horse have the psycho-sensory system that will optimize his/her physical abilities?

There is a simple but profound three step equation to remember in the process of physical action; first there is the identification of stimulus, then there is the interpretation of those stimuli which is the one-two punch of psycho-sensory, and following that is physical action (or non-action). This process passes the outside world to the inside world of the horse on the sensory super highway in a sequence of transitions. Smooth transitions allow for smooth physical responses in chaos and times of stress. This alone cannot make your horse run faster, but it sure won’t be the reason your horse is not running as fast as its physical body is able. Many strong physical horses under-achieve because of mental issues.

Something else I consider when inspecting horses is how will the horse fit into the herd, in to the team already there, and how coachable is the horse? How will the folks who will have to work with the horse each day like them and get along with them? These may seem like small things, but just like we like to work with people we get along with, we also like to work with horses we get along with. A racing program is one big jig-saw puzzle with multiple ingredients, how those pieces fit has a profound impact on the end-picture we hope to see in the winners’ circle.

A high functioning sensory system allows for a high level of adaptability, translating to coachable athletes.

Here are, in my opinion, a few additional key areas of how sensory soundness and high herd dynamics lend themselves to the overall speed of the horse.

*The aforementioned efficient transitions allow the horse to manage stimuli in motion.

*High functioning psycho-sensory systems allow the mind of the horse to always be ahead of the body; we must keep in mind that it is the sensory system that paves the way for the body to follow. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she put the sensory system control center in the head and not the tail!!

*High functioning psycho-sensory systems allow for proper psychological growth patterns which control the anticipatory response (see THT Glossary of Terms on website) abilities and environmental assimilation of the horse.

*High functioning psycho-sensory systems allow for controlled physical motion, this purposeful motion in turn allows the horse to fully optimize all of their versatility as well as their tactical ability.

If you consider all of the above working in synchronicity, it is clear that although none of these things will be the elixir that makes any horse physically faster, they absolutely make them more efficient, adaptable, tactical, versatile, and coachable. Like in any sport it comes down to the basics, if your horse can do the fundamentals better; they may just find themselves a few steps ahead.



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