Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Emotional Conformation Is Key To Success

I love to study Thoroughbred pedigrees and follow the juveniles on the Triple Crown Trail. Every year I find two or three horses I like, with nice pedigrees, but for one reason or another they do not live up to their breeding and their performance on the track is mediocre at best.

Thomas Herding Technique founder Kerry Thomas, in his essay Breeding for Behavior in the Hybrid Thoroughbred; Emotional Conformation, reapplying natural selection, says that in addition to physical conformation, Emotional Conformation is one of the keys to producing a successful equine athlete.

“It is not physical genetics alone that generate the successful athlete; it is the combination of both, Emotional Genetics and Physical Genetics. EthoGrading is an important aspect of the process for emotional genetics are revealed within the Emotional Conformation of the horse, and this is a key to adopting a more natural selection process to the mating program. There is a standard natural mantra that should not be forgotten that nature has provided for us: The mental capacity of the equine controls the physical output of the athlete.”…

“Nature provides the animal with the mental capacity it needs, exactly fitted to the requirements necessary to use the body in the environment it lives in. Think of the differences in horse size and mentality from breed to breed. Look back in history and you will see that the successful species was always matched naturally, mind to body. Indeed, for species on the move forward, the mental capacity is greater than the physical ability on its own; this allows for growth in evolution, this is what you should be breeding for in your thoroughbred athlete. This is the pure definition of natural selection; mental capacity, agility and focus that are best fitted to the needs within a given environment to survive. The artificial environment does not provide the canvas for nature to paint this picture as we select by paper quite often just who is mated to who and for what reason.”…

“When we select our breeding for success, we must remember how the process of evolution actually occurs. We like to look at pictures and we are fascinated by the changes in species physically through time. We also breed our race horses with how their physical make-up will operate in a given environment, or better said, what am I breeding for physically, turf, dirt or synthetic? It is not so much how the body is made to move over a given surface (environment) or how fast, as it is how the mental capacity is equipped to interpret the stimulus received. Physical evolution is secondary to mental evolution. Decision making ability stimulates physical change, not the other way around. The horse has an incredible ability to assimilate mentally and the thoroughbred is equipped to react very quickly to the directions given it. This is why understanding your individual horse’s Emotional Conformation and having a Psychological Profile plays an integral part [in producing the successful equine athlete].”

I like Thomas’ perspective on how to produce the champion Thoroughbred. To learn more about Emotional Conformation you can read the rest of the essay here and you can visit his website here.

Sid Fernando and Frank Mitchell recently posted blogs about Thomas and Emotional Conformation. Youbet’s Derek Simon also has a very good interview with Thomas on his radio show "Simon Says."


  1. OK, this is getting to be just sad. Look at what you just quoted in the above article, so much gobbledy gook that says nothing! You guys are pushing a fella that did not even start researching his theories until 2008. From what I have read this "equine athletic sports psychologist" has no formal education. Am I missing something?

  2. Unfortunately Anonymous, you're missing a lot! Kerry Thomas is on to something here and in my opinion Kerry's research and findings are revolutionary! He makes so much sense and you could actually apply all his findings and theories into any aspect of our industry! From my experience, there is no formal training for bloodstock agents or trainers yet they still make millions of dollars from all their clients! Unfortunately, trainers and bloodstock agents are more wrong than they are right and no one questions their qualifications or education!!! There is no formal training that I'm aware of that would educate you in Equine Psychology other than experience and know how that you acquire in the field! You either have it or you don't! Kerry's got IT, unfortunately, most in our industry don't!
    Steve Bourmas
    Equine Muscle Maintenance

  3. Mr. Carter, I previously commented on Mr. Thomas's links to "Fight For Animal Rights" that go directly to a anti-racing, chasing and show jumping site.

    Upon even further examination, not only is Mr. Thomas NOT revolutionary, he is downright regressive. He takes 400 and more years of what he would call mental evolution of the Thoroughbred racehorse and starts degrading it by applying wild herd psychology. Never mind that the wild herds he studied are likely loose ranch horses, not the romantic horses of the old West they are portrayed to be. Tell our old guys that have watched the best go through the sales for the last 50 years that the new standard is wild ranch horse emotional dominance. Yeah right.

    Mr. Thomas has created a problem that he must solve. The problem is the inherent abuse to modern day racehorses. Whom, after 400 or more years of mental evolution, just want to get back to the good old days in the herd. He claims they suffer from equine cabin fever, stress, depression and institutionalization. He blames humans for laminitis, colic behavior issues, ect. Quote- "If we consider the plethora of equine diseases, the human being has to be considered at the top of the list of at least some of these causes." So, humans are a disease to horses. And we're only hosts. Quote- "humans can become better hosts of an animal that was not born to know fences or stalls." Never mind that a man God specifically blessed with wisdom, King Solomon, had giant stables with many horses in stalls. And never mind that God HIMSELF in the same Christian bible talks of these same fenced and stalled emotionally frail horses being used for war. Quote- "He mocketh at fear. and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swallowith the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believing he that it is the sound of the trumpet"- Direct Quote from God at Job 19-24. For those that believe that the Bible is the word of God, it would seem that horses are not the weak, cowardly victims plucked from their natural enviroment where humans don't get to use them. At least there creator, who knows every cell and emotion in their bodies, doesn't think so. His intended use of them by man, his creation, does not qualify as what Mr. Thomas calls "Human Attachment Syndrome". Surely these same horses bold enough to scoff at the battlefield can manage to live in the modern day herd, the racetrack enviroment and community, and be pampered day in and day out. Surely these same horses are not reduced to the lowly prey on the range, ranch brands and all.

    Mr. Thomas's core belief is a regressive fraud, or just poor judgement and zero logic. He sums it up as Quote- "to advance the natural herd dynamic into the artificial world." The natural herd dynamic "as nature intended", not God I guess, but Nature. Simply put, Mr. Thomas bases his theories on horses Quote- "not born to know fences or stalls." Starting at this point allows Mr. Thomas to blame the very domestication of horses for all of their problems. There very use by humans. Ending with the need for his solution.

    And breeding? Here Mr. Thomas slips in more abuse allegations Quote- "industry with far too many trash-can horses, deemed unworthy of financial support because they don't win, or are unsound and breakdown." Did you catch the "worthy of financial support" part? Mr. Thomas is another crusader with a career packaged on the premise of horses abused by their very enviroment. Any insight he brings from emotional conformation based on feral horses will be underwritten with a dose of racehorses are emotionally abused by their "hosts".

    Sure to qualify him for loads of free advertising by those who's jobs depend on being free to breed and manage their own horses. Thanks a lot you geniuses.

  4. I know a guy with no education that made a fortune for others and for himself as well studying foal behavior. He made keep/sell decisions based on his observations. Ten of thirteen keepers were Graded winners - 2 GI.
    Good 'nuff?

    Poor old Abe Lincoln, among others, would have been up the creek in your world.

  5. Well said Steve, Anonymous #2. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Anonymous #1,

    I can appreciate your concern and passion for this sport that we love.

    But, with all due respect, you are way off base with your comments.

    I have interviewed Kerry Thomas and others in the media have interviewed him also. Thomas and his Thomas Herding Technique are highly regarded by many in the horse racing industry.

  6. Calvin

    A friend asked me to respond to the negative post from ANNONYMOUS..(interesting how cowards never leave their names...isn't it?..below you WILL find mine.) When a person quotes the Bible of the Living God, they should be sure to give you the whole and correct scripture, he didn't...but I shall..


    One. You can't even quote correct scripture, which..if you are going to attack a brother in Christ, you'd better be able to back up your bs with fact and correct scriptural quotes AND their meanings. Something I sincerely doubt you possess..wisdom..at least from Above.

    Job 39:19-25

    19 “Have you given the horse its strength
    or clothed its neck with a flowing mane?
    20 Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust?
    Its majestic snorting is terrifying!
    21 It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength
    when it charges out to battle.
    22 It laughs at fear and is unafraid.
    It does not run from the sword.
    23 The arrows rattle against it,
    and the spear and javelin flash.
    24 It paws the ground fiercely
    and rushes forward into battle when the ram’s horn blows.
    25 It snorts at the sound of the horn.
    It senses the battle in the distance.
    It quivers at the captain’s commands and the noise of battle.

    Second...There isn't a single quote in the Bible about care, abuse, or anything else about horses.

    But there is this.

    Treat your brother as yourself.

    Something you didn't do with either Calvin nor Kerry.

    Third..God gave man command of all the beasts of the world, air, water, land and all else. God entrusted all animals care to man. Man abuses everything he touches...just like you. But there are men God put on this earth to protect every living thing under his care, including horses. Whether a technique is tried and true isn't the issue here, that Kerry has stepped out in faith to protect and try and help horse IS. A person that speaks against a brother in Christ and the mission God has set before that man should take heed lest the Living God heap it back on their own head, hearth and home. Touch not..that which belongs to God.


    Men of honor protect ALL under their care. And I will take a guess here, but your "condition" is probably why you are poor gambler. A poor example of a man too I'll say.

    My name is Danielle Deneux'
    1981-82 Penthouse Pet of the Year
    1980 Miss Continental USA
    Daughter to a famous Professional Gambler/Horses...Imagine THAT

  7. Danielle,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and your comments.

  8. It looks like no one is allowed to question Mr. Thomas's direct quotes?

    "I was born at night, but not last night"

    Mr. Thomas questions . . . others cannot? No one can question this guys basic "core belief" before he is thrust upon the Bluegrass with no critical vetting?

    Thou shalt not question a false prophet? I think not.

  9. Regarding “anonymous” comments:
    One cannot take your remarks sincerely since you don’t stand behind your beliefs. Posting as anonymous marks you as a coward, attacking with no logic or reason, and the word anonymous is defined as uncredited and unacknowledged. If you truly have issue with Mr. Thomas, present your argument in a logical concise way, commenting on his actions rather than weakly assaulting his character. Stand behind your discourse and post your name while take credit for your statements. Otherwise, you are dismissed as just another crackpot that permeates the internet and no further thought should be given to your rants. Mr. Thomas attaches his name to his ideas and opinions and presents himself for all to recognize. Negative consternations and energy presented by “anonymous” should be ignored for the drivel it spews.

  10. Calvin I did actually find a Scripture that talks about what I wrote above. It isn't specific to horses, but I thought you and my friend would enjoy it.

    Proverbs 12:10

    "A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruel."

    Danielle Deneux'

  11. Hi Calvin
    ...despite some of the comments made previously, I ENJOYED your latest listing of information.
    Thank you
    SR Vegas

  12. Thanks SR Vegas. I'm glad you visited the blog.

  13. Hi Calvin ringing in late, but never out.
    First, my brothers and sister in Christ. Never use the WORD OF GOD AS A WEAPON. His son came to save all and lose none. When you use the Word of GOD in this manner, it is a sin against GOD. For GOD rains on the unjust as well as the righteous. The sin is to misuse GOD perfect will, for you were sinner and now have been saved. GOD does not think as man does, and the word of GOD is only to be used to show how man has sin and guild man to his salvation, not AWAY. Thus, don't make the same mistake as MOSES did, who did not enter into the promise land for the misuse of GOD perfect will, by hitting the rock, when Moses was told to speak to the rock.

    Now lets talk horse racing only.

    Calvin, good to be here again. Hope all is well for you and family, Best Wishes this Holiday Season, and may GOD be with you always.

  14. Hello Barry,

    It's always good to hear from you my friend. Best wishes and Happy Holidays to you too. I am almost ready to start talking about the Kentucky Derby.

  15. Lets get started as soon as possible. I hope the first discussion targets a list of breeding line possibilities and build from the farm to the winner circle

  16. Barry,

    Sometime after the CashCall Futurity and before the New Year I'll be posting a top ten.

  17. Excellent Calvin. Looking forward to the pre-season information.