Wall Street Journal Features TSB Author and “Horse Detective” Kerry Thomas

As we prepare for the Run for the Roses tomorrow, May 2, 2015, many are considering which horse to choose as the next great-hearted champion of the historic Churchill Downs. One very familiar to this subject is Kerry Thomas, creator of the Thomas Herding Technique and co-author of HORSE PROFILING with Calvin Carter. Kerry has consistently named top finishers in the Derby using his technique of “profiling” the field and determining each horse’s “emotional conformation.”

Kerry has developed what he calls the “P-Type” grading system, which assigns letter grades according to a horse’s instinctual tendencies (basic and acquired), and his ability to handle environmental stimuli while in motion. This has become a valuable means for analyzing racing potential for obvious reasons, but it also resonates in other equine sports, as it can help you the best methods of choosing a discipline or training a particular horse (see more about this concept in HORSE PROFILING).

Click image to read the article about TSB author Kerry Thomas in the Wall Street Journal.

Click image to read the article about TSB author Kerry Thomas in the Wall Street Journal.


To access Kerry’s picks for the 2015 Kentucky Derby, CLICK HERE to visit Brisnet.com. You can also listen to Kerry and his THT associate Pete Denk discuss this year’s Derby field on Twin Spires Radio (CLICK HERE).

In addition, HORSE PROFILING co-author Calvin Carter, founder of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds, discusses this year’s Derby contenders on a pedigree-by-pedigree basis, as well as with consideration of past performances, on his blog: CLICK HERE.




John Strassburger, Performance Editor of Horse Journal, says: “[HORSE PROFILING] will help you unravel your equine athlete’s personality and needs, so you can evaluate your horse’s ’emotional conformation,’ which the author Kerry Thomas calls the real indicator of a horse’s ability…no question as to why his work has been called ‘groundbreaking.'”

HORSE PROFILING is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.


Kerry Thomas and Calvin Carter, Coauthors of HORSE PROFILING, Provide Their Picks for the the 2014 Kentucky Derby

This weekend: "The First Saturday in May."

This weekend: “The First Saturday in May.”


On Saturday, May 3, 2014—“The First Saturday in May”—a field of three-year-old Thoroughbreds will thunder through a mile-and-a-quarter at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. This will mark the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby, a horse race that has been run every year since it was started in May of 1875.

For the past three years, Kerry Thomas—founder of the Thomas Herding Technique and a system of “Emotional Conformation” profiling for horses—and Calvin Carter, Thomas’ coauthor of the book HORSE PROFILING and owner of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds, a bloodstock consulting firm, have successfully named the winners of the Kentucky Derby using their unique systems of patterns-of-motion and pedigree analysis. This year, both Thomas and Carter again provide their insight into the equine athletes that will step on the track come Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

TODAY, Wednesday, April 30, Kerry Thomas’ Patterns-of-Motion Analysis drops at Brisnet.com. Thomas picked Orb, I’ll Have Another, and Animal Kingdom all as Derby winners due to their unique Emotional Conformation and ability to manage space and sensory input around them (Thomas explains his theories and system in the book HORSE PROFILING—CLICK HERE to find out more). Be sure to visit Brisnet.com TODAY to get Kerry Thomas’ 2014 Kentucky Derby picks!


Click the image above to visit Brisnet.com and find Kerry Thomas' 2014 Derby Profiles.

Click the image above to visit Brisnet.com and find Kerry Thomas’ 2014 Derby Profiles.


Calvin Carter is a Thoroughbred pedigree expert and has used intensive analysis of pedigree, combined with his understanding of Emotional Conformation, to name Derby winners the past three years. He has devised his own Classic Champion Profile with a numerical score: the higher the score, the better a horse’s potential in classic competition. Carter will name his favorites in the 2014 field in his Classic Champion Thoroughbred blog. Carter’s blog will post after the Draw, which occurs at 5:21 p.m. today. CLICK HERE to visit Carter’s blog.

In addition, Carter will be interviewed on WAVE 3 TV by reporter John Boel, live from the Churchill Downs backside, on Thursday at 7:15 p.m., during the station’s broadcast of the Pegasus Parade in downtown Louisville. Carter will also appear on WHAS 11 TV’s “Great Day Live” with Terry Meiners and Rachel Platt on Friday from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Thomas and Carter have been busy in the days running up to this coming weekend! Thomas was recently featured on TheRacingBiz.com, as well as in the winter issue of the international horse racing magazine Gallop. CLICK HERE to read the article on TheRacingBiz.com. Meanwhile, Carter spoke about HORSE PROFILING at two author events in Thoroughbred country.


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HORSE PROFILING by Kerry Thomas with Calvin Carter is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.



“[HORSE PROFILING] leaves you with no question as to why [Kerry Thomas’] work has been called ‘groundbreaking.'” –John Strassburger, Performance Editor, Horse Journal

TSB Author of HORSE PROFILING Names Kentucky Derby Winner in Pre-Race Analysis for the Third Year in a Row

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Orb charged to the front of the field in the final seconds of the 139th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, winning the Run for the Roses in an atmosphere that was anything but idyllic. The rainy Saturday in Lousiville, Kentucky, challenged this year’s batch of talented young Thoroughbred racehorses with a sloppy track and heavy, unsure footing. As it so often can, weather played its part in crowning the 2013 Derby champion.

In 2011, Kerry Thomas, founder of the Thomas Herding Technique and author of HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES with Calvin Carter, named Animal Kingdom the strongest contender in the Kentucky Derby according to Kerry’s method of Patterns of Motion Analysis. In 2012, Kerry chose I’ll Have Another as his pick from another talented field. And in both years, his analysis proved true.

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Once again, in the days running up to the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Kerry studied video and results of the horses named to break from the gate on the afternoon of May 4, analyzed what he calls their “Emotional Conformation,” and noted his favorites online at Brisnet.com. Kerry explains his ideas about the importance of Emotional Conformation in the equine athlete in his book HORSE PROFILING (CLICK HERE for more information).

If you didn’t have the good luck to read Kerry’s Derby profiles before Saturday’s race, here’s an excerpt from his complete field analysis, which was available for download from Brisnet.com—check out what he had to say about the tough-it-out winner Orb, who fought through the muck to cross the finish line first, despite inexperience in bad conditions:

Thomas Herding Technique Patterns of Motion Analysis/Orb

As much as humans can feel a horse’s presence, the best way to judge a horse’s true power is to let the horses tell you. In other words, look for reactions in nearby horses.

In Orb’s maiden win last November, he defeated fellow Derby starter Revolutionary, a high-level horse in his own right. On the far turn, Revolutionary was on the rail, while Orb was out 4 or 5-wide. There was a clear recognition by Revolutionary that there was a beast-like presence on the outside that he wanted no part of (at least not at that point in his career).

Orb wasn’t showing any demonstrations of body language to influence Revolutionary or the other competitors. He was projecting his presence. That is how the highest level horses choose to communicate—with intent—not with physical bullying or any (misconstrued) classic “alpha” behavior. The fact Revolutionary could feel Orb from that distance away was significant. Orb won the race easily, and not only has he not been beaten since, he continued to grow with each race.

Orb breaks from the gate in group dynamic mode, in complete control. He uses his sense of feel very well. He knows what is going on around him, and he can mentally multi-task without burning much energy. This is an important skill to have. A horse with more singular focus ability—for example, an eye-dependent horse that must look at a stimulus to understand it—can quickly go on sensory overload and burn out emotionally in the Kentucky Derby.

Orb is a very methodical horse and can carry his energy a long way. He has a classic distance mind. In his NW1 allowance victory on January 26, Orb was in a tight spot early, and his jockey pulled him back. Orb handled it with absolutely no panic or unnecessary energy burn. It requires a mental shift to be pulled back and then re-engage, and Orb did it so smoothly.

Orb doesn’t waste any of his individual dynamic energy (the energy horses use in one-on-one battles). He turns it on when he has to pass a horse or assert dominance, but often he barely engages his power. This is not unusual. In nature, high-level horses don’t waste energy. They don’t do anything unless they have to. Orb’s allowance NW1 win was not nearly as close as the one-length physical margin indicated. From a herd dynamic standpoint, that was a 10-length win.

Again, looking at how the other horses react to Orb tells us so much. The lead horse Mountain Eagle was practically running sideways and lost all his momentum because of Orb’s powerful presence from behind. He couldn’t re-settle until Orb went by and released him. Late in the race Orb took over frontrunner Duke of the City’s space and quickly let go. Duke of the City immediately fell into adjunct mode and looked to run on Orb’s flank. He never would have passed him.

In the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), Orb showed the ability to advance through a field, making multiple moves (we call that stairclimbing). That skill will come in handy in the Derby. Orb showed a huge level of grit in the Florida Derby (G1). He was challenged and he responded by exerting himself with more authority than ever before. He was pushing Itsmyluckyday from behind like a snowplow. And Itsmyluckyday is no slouch. Then Orb slammed the door hard and kept going.

Orb always runs his own race. He doesn’t react to the other horses in his environment. They react to him. In all of his recent races, Orb was still operating very efficiently at the wire. That suggests from a mental/emotional standpoint, he can go further. Orb is extremely versatile. He shows no sticking points or mental weaknesses. He operates strongly in traffic or in open space. He never shows a tendency to mimic the rhythm of any other horse (weaker horses sometimes do this for comfort). Orb is above them.

Orb was challenged in different ways in each race, and he imposed his will on the other horses every time. Orb has grown every race at age three, which is pretty scary. He’s continuing to expand on his confidence and control. Orb is in the top 1% of all horses from the standpoint of emotional conformation and herd dynamics. He is our top rated horse in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Horse-Profiling-250You can find out more about Kerry Thomas’ methods and how they can be used in breeding and training horses that perform optimally more consistently in the book HORSE PROFILING, available at the TSB online bookstore.


Read more about Kerry’s Patterns of Motion Analysis in our earlier blog post HERE.

TSB Authors of HORSE PROFILING Analyze the 2013 Kentucky Derby Field

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The world is revving up for the 139th Run for the Roses—that first Saturday in May when greatness is sought and horses again hold the nation’s attention for a few heart-and-ground-pounding minutes.

Last year, TSB featured author Kerry Thomas’ analysis of the 2012 Derby field, when he and his HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES co-author Calvin Carter successfully pinpointed I’ll Have Another as a standout in the herd of competitors. Prior to that, the pair saw and named the champion potential in Animal Kingdom.

As we count down the hours until Saturday’s starting bell, we again ask Kerry and Calvin to share their thoughts on the Kentucky Derby field.

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Kerry Thomas: Patterns of Motion Analysis

“There’s this guy from Pennsylvania who has picked the last two Derby winners, both longshots, and he did it in a most ingenious way,” writes Mark Coomes in his February InsiderLouisville.com article about Kerry Thomas entitled “‘Horse Whisperer’ beats handicappers, uses behavior profiling to pick last two Derby longshots.”

“He used no speed figures, no class evaluation, none of the traditional handicapping tools,” Coomes goes on. “He used behavioral profiling. That is, he examined the way horses behave during a race, and by applying hard-earned, grassroots knowledge of equine psychology, he identified the horses that possessed the mentality and temperament required to win the wild, 2-minute stampede staged at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.”

“The one thing I can say about this year’s field of competitors is that I truly feel there will be some rather tenacious space battles and herd dynamic communication going on throughout the entire race,” says Kerry. “There are several horses with very closely related communication styles in the field at the top levels, and seeing how this plays out in their patterns of motion over time and distance should prove fascinating.”

You can read Kerry’s full Patterns of Motion Analysis of the 2013 Kentucky Derby field at www.brisnet.com/derby. (Scroll down and look for the link to the Thomas Herding Technique.) Here are some of the qualities he looks for when analyzing racehorses (and read more about his methods and techniques in his book HORSE PROFILING):

Behavioral Overcompensation: This occurs when one sensory avenue, either by physical limitation or psychological aberration, is overcompensated for its inefficiency by the use of another sensory avenue.

Buddying-Up: This occurs when a mid-level herd horse seeks the comfort of movement with another horse. “Buddy-up horses” are dependent on another horse for safety, direction, and rhythm of motion.

Emotional Conformation: The mental and emotional psychology of a horse that makes up who he is. It includes the way the horse communicates, interprets stimuli, as well as almost everything he actively does, including competing on the racetrack.

Group Herd Dynamic (GHD): This is a horse’s awareness of the group around him. It goes hand-in-hand with the ability to interpret multiple stimuli. A horse with a good group dynamic can see/feel the big picture and where the horse himself fits into that picture. A healthy group dynamic is integral for a horse to run well through traffic or come from far back in a race. Many horses with a strong Group Herd Dynamic will prefer to be near the back of the field early in a race in order to read the other members of the group’s intentions. They are in fact “sizing up the field” and determining where they want to go. The U.S. champion mare Zenyatta is the classic example of a horse with a big (“strong”) group dynamic (she also had a big individual dynamic, which she could turn on when needing to fight for space and pass horses).

Herd dynamic: This is a general term we use to describe a horse’s overall herd level (his Group and Individual Herd Dynamic combined).

Individual Herd Dynamic (IHD): This is the dynamic that involves just the self and a singular target. Example: A horse engages in a pace duel with one other horse, not thinking about the rest of the field, the length of the race, or anything else but that one-on-one struggle. Horses that rely too much on Individual Herd Dynamic will get lost if they have too much stimuli to interpret. Front-running horses that only run their best races when they are near the front of the herd, where there are limited stimuli, usually have a very high Individual Herd Dynamic. A high IHD is integral to being a good racehorse, but the best horses are strong in both IHD and GHD. When you’re only operating on one dynamic, it’s easier to have the rug pulled out from under you. And when things don’t go their way, individual dynamic horses tend to fall apart.

Egg: The horse’s “egg” is an invisible area of space surrounding the horse and varying in actual foot-distance from him—this is the comfort zone of space around the horse. Shaped much like an egg is shaped, with the more pointed part being forward, owing to the area of binocular vision, the “egg of comfort” is the area where stimuli are efficiently interpreted by the horse in any direction. It is directly related to the herd dynamic (that area around the horse that is managed by him—see above). Some areas of the horse’s egg can be rigid, hard-shelled, absorbing/cushiony, or soft-shelled.

Space infraction: This is when one horse infringes upon another horse’s comfort zone. Picture an invisible “egg” of space surrounding each horse (see above). The size of that egg is dependent on the individual horse. Some horses shy from space infractions, some feed off of close contact.

Principles of Adaptability: This is when physical change is necessitated by environmental conditions and stimuli. Mental interpretations of these happen prior to the physical response and are in place so a species can survive, learn, and evolve. Ultimately, associations evolve into perceptions, which precede anticipation, shortening the time between action and reaction.

Anticipatory Response: Principles of Adaptability allow associations to become perceptions, which can be seen as anticipation and leading to an anticipatory response prior to actual physically or emotionally driven stimuli. In a properly functioning sequence, this allows for learning and social/psychological growth; in an improperly functioning sequence, this allows for aberrations.

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Calvin Carter: Numerical Scoring System

Since 2009, intensive study of Thoroughbred pedigrees and the late Federico Tesio, a world-renowned owner, breeder and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses, has had a tremendous impact on how Calvin Carter, co-author of HORSE PROFILING, determines if a young colt has star potential. Calvin’s research has helped him pick the classic champions I’ll Have Another, Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. Last year, all five horses he profiled in his Kentucky Derby blog finished in the top five.

“Like an intricate puzzle, the pedigree contains many secrets of what champions are made of,” explains Calvin, “and Tesio was the master at putting all the puzzle pieces together. In addition to pedigrees, past performances and the horse’s behavior, will to win, are also important factors I look at.

“Tesio was keenly aware of the importance of behavior in determining champion Thoroughbreds. In HORSE PROFILING, Kerry Thomas and I wrote that the horse’s Emotional Conformation, his will to win, is the final piece of the breeding puzzle.”

You can read Calvin’s Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profiles, a numerical scoring system, for the 2013 Derby field on his blog CLICK HERE.

Horse-Profiling-250[1]HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES is available now from the TSB online bookstore.


Three Days After the Kentucky Derby–A Look Back at How the Co-Authors of HORSE PROFILING Got It Right

“All five of the horses I profiled in my Kentucky Derby blog finished in the top five of the Derby,” says Calvin Carter, owner of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds and co-author of HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES with TSB author Kerry Thomas, founder of the Thomas Herding Technique. “I cashed on the exacta and trifecta but narrowly missed the hitting the superfecta.”

You can read Calvin’s thoughts on his and Kerry’s Kentucky Derby analysis on his blog by clicking HERE.

Interestingly, while Calvin is a pedigree analyst who relies primarily on the horses’ bloodlines when determining performance potential, Kerry Thomas focuses on what he calls “Emotional Conformation”—his method of measuring a horse’s mental capacity to process external stimuli while in motion, amongst other things. Combining their perspectives in the book HORSE PROFILING provides readers a balanced look at how performance horses can be better bred and better prepared to attain their potential, whatever their intended discipline.

Kerry explained a little about his methods when he sat down with Kentucky Confidential during Derby Week—check out the interview:

HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE. Blog Bonus!! Enter the coupon code TSBBLOG15 at checkout to get 15% off your entire order!


TSB Author Kerry Thomas “Looked for Big Things” from Derby Winner “I’ll Have Another”

Kerry Thomas, author of HORSE PROFILING, said “I expect big things” from today’s Derby winner I’ll Have Another.

Today, the horse who was bought for a song and ridden by a rookie jockey shocked the crowds at Churchill Downs to overtake the highly regarded favorite to win.

As can happen with the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby delivered an intense episode in speed and grit. And what was it that helped launch one incredible young equine athlete forward and past another? What was it about I’ll Have Another that made him dig in and pull past Bodemeister as they neared the finish?

In the April 29th article in Kentucky Confidential, Kerry Thomas, author of the just released HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES from Trafalgar Square Books, profiled the 2012 Kentucky Derby contenders. About today’s winner, “I’ll Have Another,” Kerry said:

“[He has] a nearly perfect emotional conformation profile…I’m impressed…I look for big things in this horse.”

You can read Kerry’s entire rundown of the 2012 field by clicking HERE.

HORSE PROFILING, Kerry’s new book about the ways we can help pinpoint the areas in which our equine athletes will perform best, and then train them appropriately according to the horse’s personality and physicality, is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Kerry Thomas, Author of HORSE PROFILING, Analyzes This Year’s Kentucky Derby Field

“Last year’s Derby split into two herds and was a cleanly run race,” says TSB author Kerry Thomas in the KENTUCKY CONFIDENTIAL article, out this morning. “Animal Kingdom dominated from a herd dynamic standpoint. With so many high-level horses in this [2012] field, I would expect to see a lot more battles for space in this year’s edition.”

Kerry, author of the just released book HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES, has offered his unique viewpoint as regards each of the horses slated to run in next Saturday’s Derby. Using his Thomas Herding Technique, a method of profiling performance horses developed from his own early research studying wild horse herds in Wyoming, Kerry studies the way horses react to multiple stimuli while in motion, in addition to other factors, and uses this information to determine whether the horse is well suited to perform optimally in a specific sport and/or a particular event—in this case, one of the most prestigious horse races in the world.

Check out Kerry’s profiles of this year’s Derby contenders by clicking HERE.

HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE. Blog Bonus!! Enter the coupon code TSBBLOG15 at checkout and get 15% off your entire order!!


TSB Author Kerry Thomas Is Featured on ESPN.com and Talks About How Horse Profiling Can Help Horse Racing Today

Kerry Thomas, author of the new book HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES, is recognized by many around the world as a pioneering researcher and service provider in the field of Equine Athletic Psychology. He has directed his innovative “Emotional Conformation Profiling” toward the development of programs to advance equine athletes in their given field, as well as to identify the mental blocks that seem to curtail the progress of many horses. (Find out more about Kerry and his method, the Thomas Herding Technique by clicking through from our list of recommended links on the right side of this page.)

TSB caught up with Kerry in the days running up to the Kentucky Derby and asked him about his involvement with the Thoroughbred racing industry and how he thinks horse profiling can make horse’s lives better…among other things! (Check out the article about Kerry and his profiling techniques on ESPN.com by clicking HERE). Kerry will be in Louisville from May 2-6 to attend the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby and promote his new book. (To arrange an interview, please contact:Larry Knepper, Thomas Herding Technique, Director of Client Relations and Equine Consultant, 502.296.6076.)

Kerry Thomas, author of the new book HORSE PROFILING, is featured this week on ESPN.com.

TSB:  Can you tell us about when and why you decided to research wild horse herds in Wyoming?

KT: We had some family trips out West when I was young, and in 1989, I and my cousin, on our way to Southern California, made a stop to visit friends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I fell in love with the area. I longed to explore the region, the mountains, and see what I would find. I am purely driven by a sense of adventure and discovery, and I always have more to learn, which is what I love the most: that sense of discovering something for the first time.

TSB: What is one of your most vivid memories from your days in the Bighorn Mountains?

KT: The first time I saw a herd of wild horses was actually a bachelor herd, and it was two days after I had seen my first grizzly bears. I thought, wow, this is for me.

TSB: How did you get involved in the Thoroughbred racing industry?

KT: Almost by accident. I had no real ambitions in the early days to dedicate so much time developing protocols for racing clients, as all equestrian disciplines interest me. During some time working with therapy horses and other animals and learning about children with special needs, I also met several owners of racehorses, and little by little, I began to dabble in profiling their horses. I found an amazing correlation in what I do and what makes a successful racehorse because Emotional Conformation searches the ingredients of “who” the horse is and how his “behavioral patterns” translate into “Patterns-of-Motion,” and these herd dynamics of motion are consistent from breed to breed. It’s the pilot of your “ship” that governs the ship’s performance.

TSB:  Thoroughbred racing has gotten a lot of negative press recently. Do you feel that applying your breeding and training methodologies can play a role in improving the welfare of American racehorses today? If so, how?

KT: Any sport that is high-performance and pushes the limits of performance, be it auto racing, track and field, triathlons, horse racing, and even football or baseball, will never be fail-safe. However, I do feel that any time you can add another dimension to performance horse sports by way of information, and you peel back another layer of the horse, it will have a favorable impact not only on understanding the equine athlete as an individual but also in the way that the athlete is prepared. Any sport of high intensity and physical demands lends itself to physical and emotional breakdowns, but there are contributing factors that might well be assuaged with added information that will assist in developing individually specific training and breeding paradigms. The sport of horse racing is something I dearly love, and I want to continue to do all I can to support it in a responsible manner. I don’t have all the answers, no one does, but I do feel that anytime you begin to add more information, in my case, the individual psychology of the horse, or as I call it, his Emotional Conformation Profile, and we embrace that it is the mental capacity of the equine that controls the physical output of the athlete, we begin to develop the athlete while still nurturing the horse. Profiling horses for pre-purchase inspections can be a great asset to the horse and the potential owner to see if the horse has the psychological strength and trainable mind to achieve the goals that will be placed before him. Putting a round peg into a square hole is not going to work. It isn’t that one horse is “better” than the next as much as it is some horses would fit better and be happier and more successful with different goals. The goals for the horse, whatever the discipline, must be achievable goals.

Kerry Thomas uses his form of "horse profiling" to help performance horse breeders and trainers pinpoint the best ways to prepare and compete their equine athletes.

TSB: Racing has been the first horse sport to embrace your ideas, but the Thomas Herding Technique has applications in all equestrian disciplines. How do you feel your methods can help the trainers of reining, cutting, endurance, jumping, and dressage horses?

KT: Regardless of the discipline, any time that you can bring more information about your horse to the fore, it is helping you understand the horse you are working with. Emotional Conformation Profiling and Behavioral Genetic Research is a study without disciplinary confinement. It’s about the horse—my  job is to study and discover and catalogue the ingredients that make up “who” the horse is so that innovative ways can be developed to create environments that allow the horse to become the best “who” that they can be, in both a physically and emotionally responsible manner. I have profiled horses for all disciplines, as well as for those seeking a backyard pony for their little girl. Among the most overlooked and underutilized aspects of horses is the reality that understanding and training the horse, whether competitive athlete or therapy mount or pleasure horse, has to be approached from two fronts: You develop the athlete, you nurture the horse.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

KT: A Pryor Mountain Mustang mare and the book Treasure Island!

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

KT: Cold water, V-8 juice, fruit cocktail, and empty space…

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

KT: Seeing smiles on children’s faces when they discover something wonderful and exciting for the first time in their lives.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

KT: I was at a friend’s barn with my dad when I was a child and he sat me on a horse. I was about five or six years old, and I also remember when he was taking me off,  the horse bit me, so I decided I didn’t like horses. But I have since changed my mind…

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

KT: I was trying to impress a neighbor girl, when I was about 10 or so, with my ability to ride bareback. However I had never done that before (nor have I attempted it since), and when I pressed the gas pedal, I slid right off. I ran home!!

Kerry has profiled racing prospects for clients around the world.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

KT: Someone who sees who you are and not what you have.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

KT: Horses that seem to understand me long before I understand them.

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

KT: Continue to advance and make new discoveries in emotional wellness programs for humans. It’s my passion.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

KT: The one I didn’t have to cook!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

KT: Hiking along a private beach or in the mountains.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

KT: Abraham Lincoln.

TSB: What is your motto?

“You must endeavor to understand, before you seek to be understood.” –Kerry M. Thomas

The new book by Kerry Thomas, HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES is available from the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE. Blog Bonus!!! Enter the coupon code TSBBLOG15 to get 15% off your entire order!!


Kentucky-Derby-Winning Owner’s Rant Against Drugs in US Horse Racing Reminds Us of the Need to Conscientiously Transition Off-the-Track Thoroughbreds to a Life “Off” Steroids

Barry Irwin's vocal criticism of trends in US racehorse training reminds us of what we need to do to ease a transition to a drug-free life when Thoroughbreds retire.

It was with keen interest I scanned the piece in the New York Times yesterday on Team Valor International chief Barry Irwin’s blunt criticism of US Thoroughbred trainers. “At the heart of Irwin’s broad swipe at trainers,” writes Joe Drape, “was the use of medication — drugs given to keep horses running, to make them run faster, to make them run through pain or infirmity.”

Legislation has only just been introduced to limit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of flat racing, and the United States is admittedly behind the times when it comes to control of these substances. “Major players in the industry have acknowledged that medication rules in the United States are out of step with Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, where horse racing thrives,” says Draper, “and that it is time for a significant overhaul.”

The issue first came to my attention when I worked on our TSB book for transitioning and retraining “retired” Thoroughbreds—BEYOND THE TRACK by Anna Morgan Ford (Program Director for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption) with equine journalist and photographer Amber Heintzberger. In the chapter on common lameness and health issues seen in OTTBs, Ford and Heintzberger included a section on the aftereffects of anabolic steroids, as they can remain in a horse’s system for months even after administration has ceased, and negative side effects can last a year or even longer. It is of the utmost importance that those adopting retired racehorses or providing foster homes prior to finding them permanent living situations be aware of this issue and manage the OTTB carefully until enough time has passed for the horse to no longer feel the steroids’ effects.

According to Ford, there are several things you can do to ease an ex-racehorse’s transition to a life “off” steroids:

1  Quickly, but strategically, incorporate regular turnout in the horse’s life (a mild sedative may be necessary for the first few sessions), and if possible, introduce a confident, friendly same-sex turnout companion that remains the same for several months.

2  Handle any horse coming off steroids as you would a stallion—be extremely conscious of basic safety measures when grooming, handling, and working around him/her in the stall, and use a chain over the nose when leading.

3  Be sure to adjust the horse’s diet so he/she is consuming enough calories to gain weight as he/she loses the extra muscling associated with steroid use.

4  Above all, be patient and give the horse lots of time to withdraw from the drugs gently.

BEYOND THE TRACK, the book Liz Harris—former Executive Director of Thoroughbred Charities of America and current Vice President and Executive Director of Churchill Downs Incorporated—called “breakthrough racehorse literature” and “the ultimate in training manuals for anyone thinking about adopting an ex-racehorse,” is available at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the United States is always FREE.

Five Days Before the Running of the 137th Kentucky Derby, TSB Author Kerry Thomas Called Winner Animal Kingdom a Horse that Rises to the Occasion

TSB author Kerry Tomas called Derby winner Animal Kingdom a horse that rises to the occasion and doesn't miss a step in May 2 Kentucky Confidential interview.

Last month we were thrilled to announce that we had reached a book deal with Kerry Thomas, a pioneering researcher in the field of Equine Athletic Psychology. Thomas began his research in the field of herd dynamics and horse psychology by studying wild horse herds in Wyoming and Montana, with the intent to use his independent studies in equine social structures in the development of therapy horses for children. It was during his early work that he determined that it was what he calls emotional conformation rather than physical conformation that governs herd dynamics. Thomas then spent 10 years streamlining his process of Emotional Conformation Profiling and applying it to the sport horse industry.

Thomas now focuses on the development of programs to advance the equine athlete in a given field, as well as identifying the mental blocks that derail the advancement of many sport horses. Although he works with all equestrian disciplines, Thomas’ ground-breaking theories and techniques have already made a significant impact on the Thoroughbred racing industry. He has worked with top racehorses, trainers, and owners in the United States, Europe, South America, Australia, and Hong Kong, and has developing interests in China via the Royal Nanjing Jockey Club and most recently in the Middle East.

On May 2, five days before the running of the 137th Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Confidential published an interview with Thomas, in which he provided emotional conformation profiles of all of the major contenders in this year’s race, based on video replays. Here’s what he said about the horses that finished in the top four:

Winner: Animal Kingdom

“He has a very very high herd dynamic in that he is always in self-control. His maiden win was a good learning race. It took a few seconds, but he learned to handle the rail. In the stretch run, he took over that space. Did you see that other horse get away?

“This horse’s mental capacity rises to the occasion, and he doesn’t miss a step. They could take this horse overseas. He could run 1 1/2 miles or longer. He has a very broad running style, but he remains controlled in any circumstance.

“[In the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes] he was pissed early, but he don’t care where he’s at. He’s gonna do his thing. The more time in motion, the stronger he gets. He can hover in a space and then launch past it. He was having fun running along side Decisive Moment, and then throws him away. Animal Kingdom’s only weakness is that he has a late release point. He threw Decisive Moment away at his leisure, but that could be a problem in the future, because we humans have this thing called a finish line.

“It will be a hell of a battle to watch if he and Dialed In hook up in the Derby. Those two have the most complete emotional conformation profiles in this race.”

Second: Nehro

“Here we have another stair climber. He moves from point in space to point in space.

“I don’t think he likes being by the rail, but he’s been stuck down there twice and still ran well.. He prefers motion inside of him. The reason a stair climber cannot use the rail for efficiency is that it’s an object that never goes away. A stair climber will see the rail, and think, ‘Damn, this object is in my space and I can’t get past it.

“In the Arkansas Derby, Nehro lost the race but he thinks he won. He was in the process of taking over Archarcharch’s space at the wire. Nehro gets into a nice gear when he’s able to be where he’s happy. You can see a very consistent pattern.

“He requires fairly close contact to influence space. He’s good at taking over the space close to him, and he does seek out targets, but he requires fairly close contact to influence them. Unlike Dialed In, Nehro seeks targets and goes around. Dialed In plows through. Nehro is the pickpocket. Dialed In is a big bully.

Third: Mucho Macho Man

“He became a completely different horse when they took the blinkers off. The Risen Star was the first race that was really him. This horse has a tremendous amount of potential. He manages his space very well. I think he has the ability to pick off horses and stair climb. He’s OK in a crowd and OK in space.

“I think he’s a little immature compared to his body size. He’s got a lot of improvement ahead of him.

“His loss in the Louisiana Derby … I think it was partly the shoe, but in the heat of the battle I don’t think that made the difference. This was a very, very good race for him. He competed. He has the mindset of a competitor and has a good solid emotional conformation. He has a tremendous amount of grit. He just has some learning to do.”

Fourth: Shackleford

“He likes close contact. He likes to be engaged. His maiden win (where he re-rallied to win by three-quarters of a length) actually was never close. That was fun for him.

“A close-contact horse like this has no problems with large fields. This horse is a gamer. He has a really good presence. He can maintain pace while searching with his ears. Because of his close-contact propensity, releasing is not a strong point. A horse like this will have a hard time releasing and acelerating. They would rather slow down and run with a buddy as opposed to stair climb. That means if he’s not playing that game out front, he’ll play it in the middle, and then he’s not gonna matter in terms of the race.

“He should be near the front, but I would not let him get too much of a lead. His nose should be about to the [bottom] of the jockey in front of him. If he has too much space, he mentally begins to overcompensate.

“In the Florida Derby, he got engaged when Dialed In got right up on him. Dialed in is a bulldozer, and Shackleford didn’t have enough time to react. Once he got engaged, Dialed In had already put his nose on the wire. If the race was another quarter mile longer, it could have been different. Probably not, but who knows.”

We find Kerry Thomas’ work fascinating, and we feel it could make an exciting impact on how we breed, buy, and train the horses we compete in various equestrian sports. Watch for Thomas’ exciting new book on Emotional Conformation Profiling and equine athletic psychology in 2012. For updates on this title and other new and forthcoming equestrian books and DVDs, bookmark SNEAK PEEKS on the TSB website, subscribe to the TSB blog, and friend us on Facebook.