Addendum to Update
I have always maintained that horses don’t have to be dancing on their toes and high as kites in order to train, work, or race well.
Chance is the perfect example. I lead him with just a normal lead rope, although for the track I have a leather lead with no chain, and he drags his butt along 6 feet behind me like he’s going to slaughter. He stands still and waits for me when I drop the rope and say “whoa”. He normally looks like he has no energy and even grazing could be becoming work .
He walked like his normal self through the parking lot, through the barn, and through the tunnel. But the instant his feet hit that track he became a racehorse. As anyone who knows horses is well aware – horses have an instant on switch. The most placid old gelding can go from half-asleep to bolting away at top speed and snorting fire if something spooks him. No warm up necessary.
Given the choice, surely relaxed is better for the horse’s entire system. It can’t be good for a horse to be on edge and keyed up all the time.
Chance’s behavior today also makes it pretty clear he understands the difference between his everyday life and his job. After his workout he was back to his normal laid back, and lazy-looking self.