Why THT Bloodstock?
"Herd Dynamics, because performance is driven by emotion.” - Kerry M Thomas
Two important questions are to be answered when it comes to horses; What are the herd dynamics? and What defines horsemanship? Herd Dynamics are the naturally occurring traits, tendencies and characteristics that make up the individual psychology and where this places the horse in the hierarchy of the herd environment. As emotional athletes, why would anyone invest in any horse, regardless of discipline, without an analysis of their mental and behavioral traits? The leaders of all successful major sports organizations know the mental makeup of an athlete can have a profound effect on physical performance, equine athletes are little different. Few traits are more precious in any horse than possessing a sense of independence from herd nature, few things are more difficult to sustain than performance while removed from the natural tendencies of that nature.
What is that defines horsemanship in its purest form, away from the fancy and the shiny, in its most natural state? It is the art of expression, the art of communication, the art of perceiving the environment emotionally, the art of finding harmony with everything around you. Breeding horses is the art of understanding that expression moves the physical horse, the art of coaching is embracing from whence these expressions come in order to nurture them properly. Though we cannot manufacture emotion, we can surely underappreciate its value. Simply put, herd dynamics matter.
Here at THT we evaluate and profile the horse’s herd dynamic and the fluency of the sensory system; their ability to identify and interpret their environment is a key ingredient to the capacity for optimizing talent. A horse’s psychology is the command center of physical output. Their aptitude and self preservation tendencies, the likelihood to be injury prone, stress management, natural "grit" and trainability, all spin off their psychological rhythms. Mental cadence and physical movement are fed from mind-to-body fluency and their inherent ability to manage and navigate situational chaos. Not only are the herd dynamics vital for performance but also vitally important to consider in any breeding program, for they comprise the behavioral genetic sequence.
Horses are living, breathing animals driven by emotion, and you cannot machine emotion, you must nurture the horse while developing the athete. They are not race cars are inanimate avatars. Horses have their own unique minds, sensory systems, natural tedencies and each are affected differently by trauma and respond differently to learned behaviors. To ignore these facts and focus only on physical conformation is to make an investment in only half the horse.
A great deal of time and money goes into the physical inspection of the horse, and rightly so. Looking for things that may inhibit physical performance and longevity are very important in your investment strategy. But to overlook the pilot of your machine is folly; the horses psychology, fed by the sensory system that is tasked with clearing the environment for fluency of movement, is the dividing line between cost & value. Sensory 'pot holes' and herd dynamic issues housed within the dependent/co-dependent nature inhibit the optimization of physical ability, trainability and sustainability of the horse. The key to developing the successful horse is found within their ability to harmonize with their environment, and in your ability to help them find contentment when isolated from a herd environment.
THT Bloodstock is a full service international bloodstock business serving every equine discipline with a special focus in profiling the Herd Dynamics, for they impact everything the horse does in every facet of their lives. The relationship between ability an aptitude cannot be any clearer regardless of the sport; the operating system runs the machine. At THT we consider the physical horse while asking the question, "does this horse have the herd dynamic makeup to optimize talent?"
Wouldn’t it be nice to know before you buy a horse how they are likely to react under pressure? Do they have the mental rhythms of a sprinter or a classic distance horse, are they equipped for Dressage, Eventing, Jumping, Therapy? Does your horse have the interpretation rate indicative of handling situational chaos? Does it have an elite sensory system or are their holes that could negatively affect efficiency of performance? Are their clues in the horse’s behavioral traits that will predispose it to a preferred running style, coaching approach? What mental and behavioral traits does a stallion or mare possess? How are those traits being expressed in their progeny? Is the horse's natural herd dynamic compatible with the chosen discipline, or will their psychology get in the way of physical performance?
THT’s unique services can offer insights in all those areas and more.
Whether you are buying at a public auction, privately, dropping a claim, or making breeding stock decisions, THT’s profiling services can be an integral part of your successful investment strategy. On location or through video analysis, we focus our profiles and customize them to the goals of our clients. To not work with the horses' nature, is to work against it! When you work with us, your expectations should be that you are working with the best, for our expectation and effort, is to be the best!
The business of horses at any level can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Bring your Herd Dynamic Advantage into focus through the lens of video profiling; for every horse, in every discipline, from anywhere. Fiscally Responsible, Informative, Valuable be it for Pre-Purchase - Sale Evaluations - Performance & Coaching - Breeding and more; herd dynamics matter, because if you’re not thinking forward, you’re already behind.
“A distinction must be made between training and coaching; nurture emotional energy distribution, enrich sensory efficiency, develop the physical athlete.” Kerry M Thomas, THT Bloodstock
"Herd Dynamics Matter, every horse, every discipline, everywhere."
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.