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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:47 am 
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This article on Tom Brady is interesting for lots of reasons ... -longevity. Love him or hate him (I'm a Pittsburgh fan so you can figure my take), he takes both genetics and training to the highest level that not only got him to where he is, but keeps him there. So when I think of all the work guys working on the genetic side, at some point, there may be an even greater effect in the training piece. This is not only for the sake of getting good, but most importantly, keeping it at the highest level. We've all watched even the greats eventually wear down, and sometimes almost collapse as the 'thousand cuts' get to them. So the sustained training effort (now with new high tech tools) may point to different outcomes possible. It might also point to other genetic factors - not only a 'speed gene', but an 'injury recovery gene' that might be more important to allowing a horse to even realize his speed potential long term. We know that there are horses that have a capability to throw foals that can run for far more starts than the average. If there were a 'recovery gene', those runners might be able to endure the rigors of training/racing better to actually exploit their speed and endurance genetic capabilities. And make it to the Derby starting gate.

Of course human genetics and performance are doubly very different from equines, but the article may point to something regarding the old genes vs training debate. The equine training 'science' is out there in theory, but day to day in the shedrow is a whole other story.


Run the race - the one that's really worth winning.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:43 pm
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I'd argue that it's more than just genetics vs. training...there's performance environment.

Why, on average, do professional ice hockey players have longer careers than professional american football players? At least two reasons not related to genetics spring to mind: one, that as rough as ice hockey can be, your likelihood of serious injury on ice is lower than having a 300 pound man come charging at you at full speed with the intention to put your pelvis through your nostrils, and two, that the NHL by FAR has made a much more concerted and sophisticated effort at injury prevention. Case in point: the NHL started trying to keep their athletes from getting serious head injuries in the 1990s, right about the time the NFL was encouraging the "big hits" style of football that has, in hindsight, proved so damaging.

On the horse track, there are three common themes that come up over and over related to serious injuries:

1. Obstacles (chasing, jumps, and hurdles)....for obvious reasons.
2. Tight turns on tracks. You almost never see breakdowns on the Flemington straight, the Kenilworth straight, or the straight at Royal Ascot. You see breakdowns far more often on bullring tracks and wet turf courses with tight turns.
3. Very hard surfaces.

Like it or hate it, the California synthetic track experiment DID demonstrate that hard Cali tracks contributed to fatal breakdowns. That's not to say that horses weren't injured badly enough to retire, especially with hind end injuries until trainers figured out no toe grabs on synth and even to train barefoot on synth, but a horse with a soft tissue injury behind can often go into a pleasure home or low-level flat competition. A horse with blown sesamoids can't.

So, aside from genetics and training methods, any study on longevity of careers and how to increase the career longevity of a competitive horse HAS to take facilities and equipment into account. That includes better shoeing methods, supportive gear (e.g. breastplates won't prevent saddle slipping but they can minimise its impact), safer starting gates (I like the open-top gates seen in Aus/NZ), track condition and maintenance, track curvature and grading, and setup in training facilities.

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