Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eating the Wind


When I was a kid, King of the Wind was my go-to comfort book. So, the Godolphin, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerly Turk were my small horse gods.

I had a sorrel quarter horse mare, Becky Dart, who carried some of the same bloodlines as California Chrome—right back to Man o' War... and the Darley Arabian—they were Drinkers of the Wind. I had the fastest horse in West Marin. I rode the wind. No one could beat her at the quarter mile. 

But at the mile marker, I was always left eating crow.

My horse, Becky Dart (a Three Bars/Doc Bar/Dart Bar lineage mare), looked a bit like this mare, she was leaner and had better conformation—including a higher croup, like an Arabian. She was related to Man o War through War Hug, four generations back.

The thrill of riding an animal faster than any other four-legged creature on earth, save a cheetah, or an antelope—neither of which you can ride—was an euphoric experience.

Fact: the only animals able to run faster than an American Quarter Horse (55 MPH), close cousin to the thoroughbred, and mustang, are the those sprinters, the cheetah (70-80 MPH) and the Pronghorn antelope (60 MPH). However, they're only capable of short bursts of speed. A cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds. That's something like 96 feet per second. 

Here's the rub: cheetahs can't run fast for an hour, or even a quarter of an hour. Cheetahs can sprint full tilt for about 100 feet before they overheat.
At the quarter mile, the quarter horse would still probably win, as it can easily sustain speeds up to 55 MPH for a quarter of a mile (1320 feet in 21 seconds). Thomsons gazelle, wildebeasts and lions (50 MPH) would be eating the quarter horse's dust.

Becky Dart: Born to Run (I borrowed a couple of sentences from this blog post)

They say Allah created the Arabian horse from the south wind. "I give thee flight without wings."
The Godolphin Arabian (b. ca. 1724 Yemen? – 1753)
The Darley Arabian (no dates: ca. 1722, was the great-grandsire of Eclipse, whose dam was from the Godolphin line)
The Byerly Turk (ca.1684–1706, captured in Buda, and shipped to Ireland, he may have been an Akhal-Teke, or Turkoman horse, not Arabian; conjecture that the Godolphin was also Akhal-Teke.). 
These studs were the triumverate foundation sires of all thoroughbred racehorses.
Speed of Animals chart


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