Friday, December 16, 2011

Help for Confused Racehorses

Question: Hello I am a Thoroughbred race horse and I am a little confused. I was born in the spring, April I believe, yet everyone keeps saying my birthday was January 1. Well that is the middle of winter, and I know I was not born in the middle of winter. What is wrong with these people, did they not keep proper records? Oh by the way, I am going to be racing soon, how exciting!

Signed Your Winner

Dear Winner

I wish you the best luck on the track, as well the fact that you said you are going to be racing soon gives a clue to why the people say your birth date was January 1. Race horses run in races against horses of the same age group as themselves. This is made easier by assigning all race horses the same birthday of January 1 of the year they were actually born. If you are in a race for two year olds you know that all other horses were born the same year as you, but not necessarily the same month, some may have been born in February, others in May.

If race horses went by their actual birth day and the race was held in April, a race for two year olds might have some horses born in February, that just turned two years old, and others that were born in May, and are well over two years old, about to turn three, this would be far less fair.

Most breeders try to have their foals born in February, March, April, so they will be a little more mature for racing than those born in May or June, but they do not want to have a foal born too soon because if it is born in December it will be a whole year behind the others in terms of its birthday.

An interesting note is that horses born south of the equator, for example in Australia, are assigned a different birth day since the seasons are opposite, as such August 1 is the official birthday of race horses born in Australia, adjusted only if they come to the northern hemisphere to race.

These birthdays also apply to other racehorses, not just Thoroughbreds, however your registration papers will have your correct and actual birth date on them.

Question:  Hello, I am puzzled about my color, I was bay when born but am getting white hairs. I am a 3 year old Thoroughbred racehorse, some people say I am roan, others say I am gray, what color am I?

Signed Faded Out

Dear Faded Out

Your correct color would be said to be gray however in the racehorse industry sometimes a horse who is in the process of turning gray is said to be roan. Really roan is a permanent color (not actually seen in Thorougbreds but common in Quarter  Horses), it never changes from birth to old age, but gray horses are born solid and gradually get more and more white hairs until they are completely gray, which by the way is not the same as being white, because white horses are rare and are actually born white. So to clarify you are gray, but might be called roan until you have more white hairs.