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I like big ears and I cannot lie

Thanks to Lara Knight’s awesome “You’re Going to Use That Thoroughbred for What?” piece earlier this week, I finally found personal validation on an idea near and dear to my heart: That mares with big ears are superior athletes and competitors.

Big-eared mares? What the heck is she talking about?

This is a pet theory of mine that has arisen out of the past several years of watching fillies and mares dominate the horse racing scene internationally. Mares likes Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Royal Delta, Danedream (GER) and Havre de Grace all dominated their competition, with their big ears a-flappin’ all the way down the stretch. But, like most things I notice while endless watching race videos at 2 a.m. on my iPad, I tossed my theory aside as just another random thought. Tossed aside until I asked people who might actually know something.

Havre de Grace...queen of the big-eared ladies!

Havre de Grace… queen of the big-eared ladies!

First it was Lara, who is a top level competitor in the eventing realm. With her supporting the idea, I got brave enough to try the concept out on a few other horsey people that I consider to “know what they are doing.” The answer? They have noticed it as well! People from all circles: Eventers, race trainers, dressage riders and casual competitors. Almost everyone it seems has noticed the muley-eared mare effect.

Not just racemares-RRTP's Steuart Pittman pointed me in the direction of the Grand Prix dressage mare, Rocher.

Not just racemares–RRTP’s Steuart Pittman pointed me in the direction of the Grand Prix dressage mare, Rocher.

Vina

My friend Carolyn’s OTTB mare, Vina… big ears and big competitor!

Another friend's OTTB, Laury and her mare Finley.  Ears to you folks!

Another friend’s OTTB, Laury and her mare Finley. Ears to you folks!

So what’s with the ears? I did some checking around and we might just all be stumbling onto something the Bedouins have known for a 1000 years or more. In their quick description of the ideal Arabian war horse, we get this:

Three things short: the dock, the hind legs and the back.
Three things broad: the forehead, the chest and the croup.
Three things LONG: the EARS, the neck and the forelegs
Three things clean: the skin, the eyes and the hoof.

A Bedouin man and his desert Arabian. Notice anything about the ears?

A Bedouin man and his desert Arabian. Notice anything about the ears?

Did you catch that part in the middle about the ears? Since the Bedouins managed to create the breed of horse that went on to found every other light, athletic breed in the world (including, of course, the Thoroughbred), it seems to me they just might have been on to something.

So, Horse Nation readers, have you noticed it too?  Have any big-eared mare stories of your own to share?  Tell us here!

Big-Eared Mare Honor Roll:

Royal Delta-2 time Eclipse Award Champion and 2-time winner of Breeder's Cup Ladies Classic.

Royal Delta–2 time Eclipse Award Champion and 2-time winner of Breeder’s Cup Ladies Classic.

McLain Ward and Sapphire-Showjumping Olympic Gold Medallists.

McLain Ward and Sapphire–Showjumping Olympic gold medalists.

Debbie McDonald and her Olympic gold-medal winning Hanoverian mare, Brentina

Debbie McDonald and her Olympic gold-medal winning Hanoverian mare, Brentina

2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra!

2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra!

Zenyatta in all her big-eared glory!

And the grand dame of them all, with ears a-flappin’ down the stretch, 2010 Horse of the Year and fan favorite ZENYATTA!

Go riding… on your big-eared, fiercely competitive mare! 🙂

Heather Benson is a former racetrack executive, professional handicapping analyst and owner of a Triple Crown winner (well, at least a horse that played one in a movie). But far more importantly, she is a is still that girl who gets giddy when the starting gate opens and cries every time she watches a replay of Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes. Join her each month as she takes you on a journey through the world of horse racing, from top to bottom, with a little bit of everything in between! Heather also operates Back Forty Media and Marketing, a full service marketing firm focusing on telling story of equine ventures around the country. Go to her website for more info and to follow her on Facebook at www.backfortymarketing.com

hssecretariat1

“Me and my ‘Triple Crown winner,’ a.k.a. Cyclone Larry, taken at the North Dakota Horse Park in 2009. He was a racing prospect I owned that failed utterly as a racehorse but was cast in the role of ‘Secretariat’ in the 2010 Disney movie by the same name.”

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