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AstroChuck's avatar

Why are horse races always run counterclockwise?

Asked by AstroChuck (36575 points ) June 22nd, 2008 from iPhone

Would’nt it be easier on the horses’ knees to switch off? They alternate direction for human races for that reason.

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18 Answers

ebenezer's avatar

maybe they are just run left to right, but in a circle.

Edit: aren’t most races counterclockwise?

margeryred's avatar

Hmm… I ran track and we never alternated. Not even at practice. We just ran clockwise.

(Just had knee surgery! Ouch! No pressure on the leg for at least a week..)

AstroChuck's avatar

Believe me, serious track runners in 24, 48, 72 hour, and 6 day races alternate every so many hours (typically 4–6) in order to reduce torque on the knees. Perhaps when horses have practice runs they alternate from time to time?

Seesul's avatar

From Cecil’s pile of knowledge (We Seesuls stick together. One lengthy explanation

Another theory for the US, at least is that it was like the letter “U” in colour, etc., a protest to the Brits after the Revolution.

I grew up by a major racetrack, even ate dinner this time last year at the turf club there, but never even noticed. The only thing I noticed was when my dad would declare: “the nags must be in” because the house was loaded with horseflies. We had this big red cake loaded with who knows what in the garage, where they would all meet their collective doom. As Sagan would say: “billions and billions of them”. G’nite AC
Keep on ponderin’ At least we’re on the right track here.

beast's avatar

So they can be like NASCAR™ drivers?

AstroChuck's avatar

Seesul- Whoa. I think I came upon part of that article when reading about human races. Some eerie parallels.

buster's avatar

Most horses only like to be mounted on the left. Maybe they only like making left turns too. They get used to seeing the rail on the left.

Seesul's avatar

buster, do you know if they mount on the right in the UK where they go in the opposite direction?

Your answer makes sense, as animals tend to get in the habit of doing things one way when trained and stick to it. Isn’t that what training is for an animal?

buster's avatar

seesul, It makes sense to mount on the right in UK. They use different saddles call English saddles so why not.

Trance24's avatar

I actually never noticed that. Thanks for the fun fact. Now that I am thinking about it, in track things are run counterclockwise also. Hmmm….

kevbo's avatar

I’m sure this goes back much further, since Roman chariot races were run in that direction. Perhaps it has something to do with our predisposition to view progress as left to right.

margeryred's avatar

I was a long distance runner…. at some meets I would run in excess of 4 miles… practice was about 3 miles a day. That is why I have these super huge calf muscles that to my dismay take away from my feminity and keeps me from wearing skinny jeans and boots very well…

Also, I think we did run couter clockwise (TRANCE24… LOL)

Here is a cute factoid for you… criminals almost always make right turns…

It is too difficult in traffic to make left turns quickly (they have to look both ways and view for pedestrians, etc.) They usually go in right circles…
;)

nagilum's avatar

So why do clocks run clockwise?

AstroChuck's avatar

Because if they didn’t they would be called counterclocks. Duh!

margeryred's avatar

LOL… AstroChuck there is no way you could be a geek or a nerd you are too funny!

AstroChuck's avatar

Are you kidding? That’s how we geeks survived in school!

Trance24's avatar

@margeryred I feel your pain! Even when I can find skinny jeans that fit it takes me like 10 mins to get them on or off! Lol I am a distance runner also. Cross Country season is starting soon! =] Summer practices= OUCH

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

IIMO counter clockwise is runing to the right, which is good. Running clockwise is running to the left, which is bad and communist, so running right gets it hands down.

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