It’s the pounding of the hooves down the track and the flashes of bright colors as jockeys cling to the backs of thoroughbred racehorses. The tension is mounting and there is a surge of excitement from the surrounding crowd. It’s the Triple Crown, at the heart of lore and legends for generations.
The Triple Crown is a racing contest for thoroughbreds that are in the 3 year class and complete three milestone races in the sport of horse racing. If one thoroughbred has victory at all three events, it is a rare event in deed. Very few prime race horses have been able to join this exclusive club of winners. In the United States, the Triple Crown refers to the Kentucky Derby, likened to the World Series of thoroughbred racing as the most recognizable, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
Taking victory in any of these races requires a horse with excellent conditioning, a jockey with skill and stragegy, and an owner who knows how to maximize the potential of his or her horse. The last time a US horse held the title of Triple Crown was in 1978 and the victor was Affirmed. Seatle Slew took all three races in 1977. Perhaps most memorable of all is the horse that is synonymous with racing, the great Secretariat. Secretariat, the focus of a major motion picture, came from humble beginnings and stormed the Triple Crown back in 1973. It was nearly thirty years previous that Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948. Looking back to its beginnings, Sir Barton amazed fans with his win in 1919 shortly after World War I.
The prospect of a Triple Crown victory inspires awe, bringing race fans back to the track. Owners and jockeys will strive to be next to win that title.
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Owning a racehorse has the potential to be a very lucrative investment. It is also very difficult. Whether you’re considering sole ownership, a racing partnership or just getting friends together to buy a horse, there are a few key considerations that will determine your expectation level and help you enjoy the experience to its fullest extent.
Establish Important Racing Relationships
You will need a bloodstock agent to make recommendations on a racehorse based on pedigree will considering your budget and goals. An experienced trainer will provide important insights into a horse’s appearance and conformation. A licensed veterinarian should examine any horse you are considering to determine if there are any serious health problems or physical limitations that would prevent the horse from performing.
Purchasing a Racehorse
There are three basic options available when purchasing a racehorse- private, auction and race claiming. Private purchasing is the easiest way to buy a racehorse and also the safest. In this instance, you will deal directly with the owner and may well be purchasing an experienced or proven horse. Your second option is to purchase a horse at auction. Most racehorses sold at auction are either yearlings or 2 year olds. Claiming races are held every day at every racetrack in America. All racehorses running in a claiming race are for sale at a listed price. Licensed owners and trainers can complete a claiming slip on a particular horse before a race. If you choose to claim the horse, you own it that instant the race begins.
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Training a horse isn’t a simple task, but it’s also not the dangerous, violent exercise it once was. That’s because the whipping and rodeo antics of the Wild West have largely given way to a more considerate and reciprocal form of training. Some call it horse whispering—others call it natural horsemanship. Whatever you call it, it’s the philosophy that many trainers today are promoting. These tips from trainers at AlphaHorse.com and Frank Bell, Horse Whisperer exemplify these new techniques.
Jeffrey Rolo from AlphaHorse says that light slaps or verbal growls are acceptable ways to deal with undisciplined horses, especially young ones who haven’t been trained. A physical slap will not really hurt a horse, but will send the message that you have expectations for him. A form of discipline which requires no harsh moves on your part, however, is to march the horse around a round pen. This eliminates the horse’s physical advantage and shows him that you are capable of getting what you want from him.
Frank Bell offers ways to determine your horse’s mood before interacting with him. A horse that is holding his head up is uptight, while a relaxed horse will hang his head lower. By teaching your horse to drop his head when anxious, he will actually become more relaxed. Horses that feel safe and comfortable also often move their mouths. Bell writes that you can also aid a horse in relaxing by massaging their eyes, ears, or nose.
Rolo also touches on the subject of removing your horse’s fear of water. Many times, this fear is simply found in new horses who haven’t experienced running water before. Older horses who display this reaction have usually been traumatized by a water-related accident. The best way to overcome this problem is by demonstrating the harmless properties of water, either by letting your horse watch another cross, or by taking your horse through small puddles and working up to larger bodies of water.
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