I was once told by a successful racehorse breeder that, in a field of ordinary horses (no Secretariat clones), it’s a good strategy to bet on the horse whose mother was the dominant mare in the pasture. He told me the plan about how a Horse wins a race.
That horse experienced deference from other horses very early in life – never mind that it was while he was with his mother – and he automatically assumed that he would be deferred to when out with others of his age group, too. Since that group was all together when with their mothers, their mother taught them to respect the hierarchy. They continued to defer to him later, when they were away from their mothers, too.
Now, as an adult, he continues to expect all other horses to follow his lead so clearly that they do. So none of them will even think of passing him in a race. That would be the height of disrespect.
Does Horse Understand The Concept Of Race? Then How A Horse Wins A Race?
Very experienced racehorses might have learned they should get to the front, but still don’t understand WHY they should be there.
While horses of all ages will APPEAR to be racing with their pasture mates, those aren’t races in the human sense (trying to get ahead of the others to get a prize), but rather “herding” events. They’re not trying to be the first in the group, because the first horse in a herd will have to decide where the entire group is going next, will find all obstacles first, and will be the first to run into the jaws of a wolf if there’s an ambush. Most horses do not want that kind of responsibility, so they’ll indeed race their mates, but only until they’re just behind the first; then they stop and stay there, happy to finish in a second or third place. They want to be INSIDE the herd, not LEAD the flock.
Important Points To Know About Horses
The same happens with most thoroughbreds when they’re starting their careers. If the rider doesn’t do anything (or falls off at some point), the horse will cruise up into 2nd or 3rd place and stick to it, never reaching any further than that, even if it had the strength to do it, because:
A: it does not understand the concept of winning (because in nature, front runners don’t win).
B: even if it did, “the finish line” is at some arbitrary, inconspicuous, point of the track so it wouldn’t even know when the race was over.
Highly experienced racing horses will understand, over time, that the human on their backs gets very happy and will groom them when they get to the front of the pack. Since nothing wrong ever happened to them from being at the front, they might push themselves to the first place without input, but that’s a learned behavior, and it doesn’t mean they understand the concept of racing.