Figure makers refer to the bounce as a regression in numbers, but make no mistake its a physical and mental manifestation due to stress.
Bounce is used loosely,, anytime to a horse who runs poorly after a good effort, without explanation.
There is many reasons why horses perform poorly or 'bounce':
Competition has a major impact on a thoroughbreds effort. and running style, pace, can affect a performance in a competitive field.
2.) A bounce can be caused by how a horse is approaching the race mentally or its emotional level.
In my experience , bounce can manifest itself by the horse inability to cope with emotionally even more so than physical stress.
The strength of a horses class can be diminished and nullified by its his or her failure to handle the effort as we would fail in a situation by being nervous, edgy, and anxious.
Horses can b as temperamental and extremely emotional beings, just as we are. Some more than others.
It has been proven in humans if heart rate rises over 170 there is ore probability of impaired judgement. Horses are no different. A nervous horse will have an elevated heart rate and may want to do too much too soon or simply exhaust itself before even breaking from the stalls..
The nervous horse, can turn his positive energy into nervous anxiety.
A horse that is nervous, edgy, will do too much during the warm up or fractious at the gate exhausts energy levels.
You can see stress in a horses eyes, the Europeans call it over the top.
Howa horse handles stress in the morning can be indicative of how they will fare in a competitive event in the afternoon
I have seen horses in the morning work legitimate works but head back to the barn looking winded, tired and stressed. Those are the types I stay away from.
Mental stress can't be trained out of a horse or taught. Horses are schooled and prepared in the paddock, in the saddling stalls, or at the gate but there is no guarantee they will remain within themselves in the afternoon. We can school too much, do too much to prepare. Some trainers believe less is better when it comes to schooling
I watch post parades looking for a calm horses, some want energy, but there is such a fine line between positive and negative energy flow.
I hate seeing a horse I like, do 'the piston shuffle', in the post parade. The 'piston shuffle ' is the horses legs act like pistons in your engine, up and down, up and down with force. I don't like that all. I bail. That's nervous energy. I like to see a horse that looks he is alert but well within his means.
The bounce can also rear its ugly head during the running of a race: Horse rated nicely in his superb effort last out, but this time doesn't relax in the gate or in the early part of the race dragging itself in a duel or a faster pace than accustomed to.
This is when you hear horseplayers screaming at jockey "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
The jockey can't make a horse do what he wants it to do, the horse has to cooperate. Horse does too much too soon and tires. Legendary jockeys have always talked about just being a 'passenger' on horses.
Horses can also show nervous anxiety by getting wet, or sweaty. It can even start in the morning.
Working fast works in their first works after a race is something I watch for. Its a false impressions of how they have exited the race. Physically they feel too good and want to do too much.
In my experience, in a bounce situation, those works regress heading into the next race. I very rarely push a horse off a strong work two weeks after a good race.
Horses like Paradise Woods in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill gave an impression of bouncing in her gallops few days before the race.
Mental stress, anxiety, is one of the main reasons a horse bounces.
Handicappers can blame washness for bad performance, but just being washy doesn't make the bounce theory applicable, be careful. Some horses wash out regularly and run big, if they are cool and calm today they must sick. Know your horses.
Horses also wash out because they are worried. They feel something we can't see and they can't speak. Then, five, six days after a race they come out with a bruised foot, or an injury.
Injuries can take time to manifest. For example, a broken tibia doesn't show on X Rays for at least seven days but the horse is lame in the meantime.
Final reason for the bounce is simply poor racing luck, a bad trip or a horse or taken out of their running style.
Don't be that guy that used the bounce excuse every time a horse runs bad off a big performance.
Did the connections overmatch their horse? Did the horse show too much speed and failed to follow the riders instructions? Was it nervous and edgy, going to the gate? Did the horse refuse to go in the gate? Did the horse lather up going to the gate? or my favorite is was the horse standing by the gate literally shaking?
Bounce is a term that is used way too loosely and without context, but if you pay attention you can start seeing some of those bounce factors.