The second I finished typing that word, my head was filled by the Stevie Wonder track, ‘Superstition’, which isn’t a bad thing at all. On that topic, horse racing and horses in general carry a whole new world of superstitious practices and bizarre rituals. Here a few highlights:
In popular horse racing myth, it’s believed that it’s possible to determine the sex of a pregnant mare’s unborn foal. The ritual itself seems to carry little relevance to anything, though it does mirror the typical method of human birth gender divination; tying a nail to a hair from the mare’s tail, you can determine the gender of the foal by examining its swing pattern. A circular pattern indicates a filly, a straight one, a colt. No movement means it’s a false alarm. However, much like the human method, it’s surprising how little movement is needed in order to manipulate the movement of the pendulum, so it’s likely that many of these divinations were performed by charlatans.
If you’re running a horse in a professional race, don’t ever change the horses name, as this apparently portends bad luck. Well, it would also be confusing and annoying for the punters too. Can you imagine reading the Cheltenham Gold Cup odds if they changed the names of the horses all the time? No, didn’t think so.
One of the more common myths regarding horses in general is the use of the horsehoe as a talisman. Many culture regard the act of nailing a horseshoe to their front door as a means as warding off spirits. In nautical superstition, it’s believed that hanging a horseshoe from a vessel’s mast is a means of building a conduit to the luck of the heavens, thus protecting the ship from storms. This, of course, is all nonsense.
So, if you like the look of the Cheltenham odds for the next big race, just be thankful that most professional breeders and racers will never adhere to these silly superstitions!