A lot of people think so. Quarter horses don’t have the advantages of thoroughbreds that are bred for speed or speed of a sprint race or faster running. They still have a lot of energy and speed and can run a lot. They don’t do as well in a speed race, but you don’t need speed because they are so fast. You have to be very careful because they can hurt you. I ran a quarter at a sprint race in which I was trying to qualify for the Olympic trials. I had to go for the sprints, but I didn’t expect to get out in front with my fellow runners. My only thought was to do well and try to win.
My trainer was really encouraging about it – I got out in front of the pack and didn’t even run the race! It actually got me in front with the other runners and I came in ninth.
I remember asking my trainer where my time would be if I just kept going full tilt like everyone else did and didn’t slow down. He said, “You’re never going to do that. There’s something I haven’t told you. There’s a horse called a foal that has five different running styles. One of them is a run for pace, another is a run for race pace, another is a run for the lead and another is a run for the finish.”
That horse goes at a very fast pace so you could easily get out ahead of your competitors as you’re running at five times your own average speed. You can run a few hundred yards on the quarter as fast as any other runner but the foal will have a tendency to cut off the pace. If they cut off the pace, the rest of your competitors will run faster than you. So be very careful.
How often should you train a horse?
I just think a beginner will have a good time because you are very loose with this horse. He has a lot of confidence and you don’t have to force him. A beginner will do most of his work between the ages of seven and 12. They get good, natural running form early in life. They probably have just completed puberty as they are about eight months old. That’s when they start to make a little bit more speed as they are growing. Some people tell you, when they are eight months old, they already have the speed to run a mile in about two minutes! A lot of experts say five or six months is a good age for a beginner