For the past thirty years, conventional wisdom has held that horses have attained their maximum speed. Now, researchers at the University of Exeter in England claim that racehorses are running faster.
Looking at data from more than 616,000 races run by more than 70,000 horses, these scientists have found the winning speeds greatly improved, particularly over the shorter distances.
The big question, according to a professor at Exeter is whether the improvement is a result of breeding or technical changes. In the early 1900s, the speed of horses improved when jockeys shortened their stirrups and got out of the saddle. Speed improved again in the 1970s and 1980s when jockeys shortened their stirrups still further.
How now to evaluate the effects of improved vet care, better draining of track surfaces, and hi-tech track surfaces that absorb energy from the horse’s footfalls and return a portion of that energy back to the horse in springiness?
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Posted June 26, 2015