The Big Stretch


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 blocks do.



 © 2016 Dressage by Design