This post began as a response to thread on the PaceAdvantage forum, the best forum on the web for the horse player with an inquiring mind. The thread is here: http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=85095
I think the biggest mistake people make is having no understanding of the logical order of things. By “things” I mean that they must have a logical process for everything.
Consider someone who is going to take up golf. One can certainly go buy a set of clubs, get a few buckets of balls, find a driving range and start hitting balls. Over time they will learn to hit the ball farther and straighter. But is this the best way?
Imagine how much faster they would develop as a player if they had some real guidance, not just in technique – that certainly has value – but in the process of development.
Example for golf:
“First, work on proper grip and stance. Then move on to understanding how the club-face impacts the ball.”
(Not being a golfer, I have no idea what this process might entail for golf, but I most certainly know what it is for a horse player.)
The typical horse player subscribes to the idea, “If I just keep hitting golf balls somehow I will become Tiger Woods.” (Jokes, aside, he is still the best example I can think of.) This is not the likely outcome of “just hitting golf balls.”
Not only does one need a developmental plan but they also need a plan for technique. I would not be so quick to dismiss books as learning aides as many people in this thread have suggested. After all, without the teaching materials of others, you have absolutely zero sources for learning anything. For that matter, even a golfer who learns from a book is far ahead of the golfer who learns through just his own trial and error.
Rather, if one is going it on their own, they need to begin with the classic books – Quirin and Brohamer are tops on that very short list in my opinion. The reason these two books are so good is that they are the two major paths to horse racing enlightenment.
From those two you choose a path: basically statistical handicapping or pace handicapping. Now you can narrow your focus to one path, learning all that you can.
It is easy for the highly experienced PA people to say things like “ignore the books” because they have already read those books; they have absorbed that knowledge. And that is what you need to do: absorb knowledge.
There is a lot of horsepower on the PA forum. I think what the more learned members of that group really mean is to say is that, every horse player will find that the systems and methods in the books will not be enough; that there will be something missing.
Ultimately, each player must determine for themselves what is missing and figure out how to get it.
July 10th, 2011