Softness, consistency, balance, and a soft heel.
Let’s keep it simple, and keep things as simple as possible.
Good to Soft Means Harder, Soft Means Easier
“Good to soft means harder” isn’t a hard slogan. The only difference is it makes the other two slogans sound better. We’ll be using the word “hard” a lot in this article.
Here are the terms we need:
How hard does a horse’s hoof have to be to be “good” to soft?
To figure this out, take the weight of the horse, as well as his forefoot and back foot. We have to add all of that together, to get a total. Then take the number of times the horse can turn on all fours, and subtract that from the total. You know, the whole “two-inch turns” formula you used at high school? Yeah, that’s hard.
What about turning on the toes or heels? Now we can add those together to get a total. Again, using the math at college (don’t worry, the math is easy) we see that if the hoof has to turn on six times for a horse to be soft and six times to be hard, it would be a harder turn. We’re talking about the exact same number of turns.
Now, what about the number of times a horse can turn on all fours? If it can do that many different types of turns, it’s soft. If it can only turn one type to be soft, that’s hard. If a horse can do “two-inch turns” then he turns very hard.
So to get the answer to our question, “What does good to soft mean in horse racing?”, I’ve rounded the numbers up to make it easier to find out.
(1) Hardened, Softened: The Harder the Horse, the Softer the Horse
The last sentence above is an oversimplification, and a poor one at that. There are many different factors that factor into a horse’s turn. Different horses have different size feet that are different length from each other, and different proportions.
So let’s take the above equation from above as an example. It doesn’t factor in foot, heel, and forefoot, but we can see that turning on the feet should be hard, but not too hard. You can go deeper into the details if you