Look at the change of equipment on Your So Vain before and after Åke... pic.twitter.com/DhtjseCHs3That's trotter Your So Vain last year (above) and this year (below).
— Tristan Sjoberg (@TristanSjoberg) July 9, 2014
It's a little weird to post it, because when you do it looks like you're taking a shot at Brad Maxwell (last year's trainer). I'm not. Brad is an excellent trainer and Your So Vain was very good last season.
What it does show is the difference, I feel, between Euro trainers and North American trainers with trotters. The rush to get a trotter right to make money at two and three has a modern domestic trainer reaching for the equipment shelf. If he won't trot straight, add a head pole, if he won't trot, add trotting hopples. The list with finicky trotters can be endless, which in my view is why you see so many dressed like Robocop.
A good many of the times, again in my view (although I have spoken with good trot trainers about this before for years), the trotter is just not right. He's immature, something is bugging him or what have you. He likely does not need equipment or injections, he needs some TLC and some good old fashioned horsemanship. When the trotter is sounded up, or given time, he or she can come back with minimal equipment, be free and happy and trot sound and straight. Not all the time, but a lot of the time.
Ake and other Euro trainers espouse this view. If you watch an Elittlopp for example, you'll notice free swinging trotters, happy and sound and bouncing around like a ball, with almost no equipment.
Old time pacing trainers do similar. Bob McIntosh comes to mind. Some of his horses need no check, and wear only a small shadow roll, or a small blind (horseplayers often note that his horses like Ponder and Staying Together hold their head low. True, but only because he never cranked them up). His horses are free moving. Compare that to some of the modern pacing trainers with high percentages. Hoods or blinkers with cups are common. Knee boots and other equipment are common too. Send them down the road, keep them straight, and try and make money seems to be the method of operation.
Horse racing is amazing - especially so in harness racing where training techniques and equipment use means so much more than thoroughbred racing. I find it amazing because there are trainers out there who know horses so well, they can let them use their natural gait, give them time needed to show what they can do. Ake is one of those, and he is an excellent addition to the North American training ranks.
I love watching his trotters go. They move like a metronome. Just like the horse gods intended.
We'll have more on this soon, but Brad Cummings (formerly of the Paulick Report) has a new venture up and running called Equilottery. If this can get done, through massive red tape, infighting and more alphabets than a can of children's soup, it's a game changer. A big one.
Give the story a read here.
Have a nice Wednesday everyone.