Seabiscuit & Biomechanics
He was not flashy in his color, so
he didn't stand out. He had no
"chrome", as they say in the
horse world, which meant he
had no white markings on his
ankles or on his face and he was
probably a pretty ordinary
brown color. This was part of his
appeal and inspiration to the
folks of the 30's - if this ordinary
looking horse can achieve greatness,
maybe I can, too.
But like many great athletes, he
didn't look like much standing
still. After seeing the PBS special
several times I’ve observed that
he had quite a long neck, which
he used very efficiently to run.
He'd stretch it over the top
where the strongest muscles are
and this gave him tremendous
stretch over his back.
But his efficient neck would not have made
the difference without a very flexible lower back. This
enabled him to curl his pelvis effectively on every stride.
That meant that his hind legs really jumped underneath him
to push him forward. He got a kind of maximum stretch and
maximum contraction on every stride as he galloped.
The trainer, Tom Smith was also
very clever at augmenting this
motion. The entire drama
around the match race and how
War Admiral's owner did not
want to use a starting gate
(where War Admiral acted up)
revealed how good a trainer Tom
Smith was. The line-up and start
off a bell made a great
Hollywood moment. Smith did
school the horse on quickness off
the bell, but in the actual footage
you see Seabiscuit "sit down"
and push to start - very much
like human runners in starting