Some time back, we published this article in an effort to explain the usefulness or lack of usefulness of the consistency meter. Since that time, much confusion has creeped back into the consistency meter subject. It was feared that this article was lost after many crashes and changes of equipment, but it was just discovered in the cloud. The original article relied on colour changes to clarify statements. We do not have, as far as I can tell colour on this Article Manager, so I will try to use italics and bold fonts to clarify. Some of the statements may be dated, but you’ll catch the drift of it all. Here it is as it was published years ago:
On August 3, 2004, HRP introduced three new meters to the game, Surface Meter, Distance Meter and Consistency Meter and along with it a lot of confusion, misunderstandings and confusion. Since that day, the Surface Meter has been discontinued, but the other two meters are in general use to this day. The Distance Meter seems to be generally understood to be used when a horse needs to race outside its comfort zone.
The Consistency Meter, however, seems to remain that hardest element of the game for many players to get a grasp on; and, those that think they have, may well be working under a misapprehension as to the function of the meter. There has not been a post about the meter in nearly a year, making it look as though everyone is satisfied with their understanding and use of the meter.
However, in reading comments in the forum and statements made in HRP-related chat rooms, I suspect their remains a great deal of confusion, or at least misunderstanding as to the use of this rarely effective meter. For a tool that was added to help only the occasional inconsistent horse, the meter gets an inordinate amount of attention, from comments like, “I think my horse did poorly because its Consistency Meter was off” to “I worked the new horse twice today to get his Consistency Meter going.”
The following is what the Support team had to say about the meter in chronological order. I tried to edit it down, but some of the comments may be redundant….sorry. Also, some of the comments will have little impact on this article, but are there as a record of the process and development of the meter. Section 20 of Help is a detailed explanation of the Consistency Meter. I will not reprint it here, as there will be way too much reprinted as it is, enough to where you might just want to throw your hands up and decide this whole thing is just more Maximum Cool Mad Ramblings. The comments in italics are from the HRP forums and are Support Team comments unless otherwise noted. The words in bold are pertinent to this article and usually have my comments after.
“The consistency meter will help owners to help control some of their inconsistent runners a little better.”
In their very first statement about the (upcoming) Consistency Meter, Support Team let us know that the meter was not for all horses. In fact, it is only for some horses.
“The levels to which it helps or hurts each horse is dependent on each horse individually.”
Again, an allusion to helping only some horses. This statement is interesting in that later comments Support will say that the meter can not hurt a horse.
“The consistency meter for 2 yos will tend to move down faster and up slower than older horses.
A horse that runs a slow race or timed work for its abilities will have a chance to take a large hit on its consistency meter.”
“Some horses will be able to more less disregard the meters, specifically the consistency meter because the horse is already consistent.”
This is almost a recommendation to not use the Consistency Meter on already consistent horses.
“The consistency meter may need to be watched a little but in most instances could probably be ignored and not a whole lot would change from the current.”
Obviously, HRP thinks far less about the Consistency Meter than we do.
“A negative 5 in consistency has a VERY low impact on horses. The meter is more about the positive gain you can receive if you so desire. Which means you can still continue as you currently do and nothing much will change.”
“Also, we have removed the red color from the consistency meter. Hope this helps owners understand that a low consistency meter will not hurt horses.”
Now, Support begins to clarify that the Consistency Meter will not hurt horses.
“Your horse may be inherently consistent while another’s horse is not. Some horses will not take to the consistency meter. You may choose to ignore the consistency meter and focus more on the timed works which could give you more knowledge about your horse to place it in the right race rather than someone else who decides to go with the stricter training schedule to raise the consistency meter. Saying that it hurts you if you decide to not use the consistency meter is wrong. There are benefits to not using the meter as well.”
So, here we see that the Consistency Meter can be completely useless to a horse, and your time with the horse can be better spent learning how and why the horse runs. The thing we do not know is just what percentage of horses fall into this category. However, with a little observation of the racing characteristics of each horse, it should be fairly easy to determine whether or not a horse will benefit from the meter. Ignoring the meter for an already-consistent horse may leave you with the opportunity to work the horse into better condition or stamina for a race.
“Quite a few owners are not initially understanding the purpose of the consistency meter. It is not for every horse and it is probably not for every owner. The biggest point is that we intentionally made it difficult to raise the consistency meter because we do not want every horse sitting with a +5 consistency. Think about it. What good would it do if every horse was sitting at +5 consistency? Also, there will be plenty of horses the consistency meter will help but there will also be plenty of horses the consistency meter will not help. Raising the range would not be realistic and much more importantly it would allow everyone to be at +5 consistency. We are considering one other addition as maybe a compromise. 2-4 works + races are positive and 5 would be neutral. The meter would not move up or down with 5.”
This comment is the crux of the issue. HRP quite simply does not want every horse to reach the starting gate at +5. As they point out here, what good what it do? Or, more to the point, why have a meter that helps the inconsistent when every horse in the race is set to take advantage of it. It does strike me, though, that if every horse was at +5, the inconsistent horses would gain an advantage they didn’t have before the meter. This is probably why so many try to get every horse to the starting gate at +5…..just in case.
“We still want to stress as we have several times in previous threads that we do not want to see every horse be at +5 consistency. At least not without giving something up to do it. Do you really think it would be beneficial if we made it easy to gain +5 consistency so that everyone could get their horses there without much effort? We have intentionally made it hard to get to that level because you should have to give something up (in this case a little knowledge from not being able to continually work the horse) to gain consistency. Does this not make sense?”
“It does not improve the horse, but it could improve his averages though. It closes the gap on what you can expect out of the horse. For instance, you have a horse that typically runs anywhere from 1:10 to 1:14 for 6f. With the added consistency the horse may run somewhere from 1:10 to 1:12. You have improved the horses average time from 1:12 to 1:11 but the fastest is still a 1:10.”
This statement seems obvious. But, it is probably a safe bet that there are plenty of trainers out there that think that their horse will be improved by the Consistency Meter…..that the 1:10 will become a 1:09 3/5 with the consistent regulation of the meter. Here HRP is assuring us that only the range will become limited. With my luck, my consistency would change to an average time of 1:13 to 1:14.
“Not all horses will respond the same to the consistency meter. A +5 consistency for one horse may do wonders while a +5 consistency for another may do nothing.”
“We are positive the consistency meter will only improve a horses consistency and not deteriorate it.”
This is in direct conflict with the previous statement. But, let us be happy it is changed this way.
“Slower than usual time does not signify something was wrong. A drop in consistency could be the effect of a slow time (not the cause) which is more for show and could be interpreted as something happened. Nothing needs to be done unless you wish to get the consistency back up before racing again.”
HRP is tipping us that the Consistency Meter can be used as an analytical tool to warn when a horse is having problems. Rather than just blindly reaching for +5 with the Consistency Meter race in and race out, we can observe the fluctuations of the meter to add to works and results as a warning that a horse may need a rest.
“The consistency meter will tend to move down more with longer workouts.”
Trainer: “Now talking with my fellow HRP members the consensus is not to race your horse at -2, even though HRP states that it will not effect your horse I’ve been told by many that have already raced that it makes a HUGE difference. Many state its like the horse hit a wall.”
HRP response: The people telling you that it is a huge difference are wrong. It is always possible their horses may not have run a good race but it is not because of the consistency meter as you describe.
I think that statement speaks for itself. It is always best to take the word of Support over the comments of fellow trainers.
“The consistency meter is meant most for the more inconsistent horses. It can improve the consistency of horses but is by no means a guarantee.”
“It does nothing to the speed of horses except potentially shrink the low end of the range as described in the help section.”
“Consistency meter effects consistency but doesn’t work for all horses.”
Again. There have been a few things about the Consistency Meter which have been difficult for HRP to get across, the fact that it’s not for every horse is the most stressed. Another problem in understanding is the red numbers coming from transferring to the race track. It was so often asked that Support has this stock answer that pops up again and again:
“Sometimes you will see two numbers inside of a bracket after the number in parenthesis. The first number is the number of maintenance periods remaining to remove the consistency penalty if the horse is raced. The second number is what the consistency meter would be today if the horse were raced with the penalty.”
“The movement of the consistency meter is based on an individual horse basis. The meter will move faster for some horses and slower for others. Also, for 2yos the meters will tend to move up a little slower and down a little faster.”
“Your horse cannot be degraded from the consistency meter.”
Can not be hurt; can not be degraded.
There is a thread dated 11/15/2004 9:46:22 PM titled Meter tweaks / owner comments and suggestions that makes interesting reading on this subject. Read it now. [Obviously, you can’t read that thread because HRP has archived it. We leave the comment here for historical context.
“Each horse has its own characteristics for the consistency meter. Some may naturally drop a little more than others. If a horse runs a below average race the consistency meter may drop a little more or closer to 5. Running a bad race can also cause the consistency meter to drop more than the standard 3-5 range. Distance of the race also plays a factor. The farther distances will tend to cause the meter to drop a little more. The meter can drop to 0(5) from a race.”
Trainer: “Currently, if I remember correctly, a horse can see improvement the longer the condition can be held above 95. I was curious as to whether or not a horse can see improvement the longer it keeps a green consistency meter?”
HRP response: “It just keeps it more consistent.”
This is an interesting response. Here they seem to be telling us that, if we can manage to keep the Consistency Meter in the green, we can get even more consistency from an inconsistent horse.
“The consistency meter can cause a horse to be more consistent or more inconsistent depending on what it reads. A horse can still put up its best possible performance no matter what the consistency meter is.”
As this is stated, an inconsistent horse can be affected by the meter not being kept up. I assume HRP would argue that this is not a meter of “hurting” the horse, but rather allowing the to reach its own natural worst level of inconsistency. Again, it is the sort of statement that causes many trainers to try to be +5 with every horse they race rather than take a chance that the horse they think is already consistent might not be.
“Gelding can make the consistency meter drop slower.”
“Some horses may be inherently consistent and you will not need to use this meter and some horses may not respond to the consistency meter. (From help section)”
“The consistency meter is meant to give owners a way to try and help inconsistent performing horses be more consistent. The higher the number the better chance a horse has of running at a consistent level near its best. A horse can still run just as fast with a bad consistency number but may be more volatile. (From help section)”
“The direction the meter is heading has no impact on how the horse will perform as long as the meter is +5.”
“Multiple mile workouts should not affect consistency meter.”
“The downside to putting the horse in training mode is that the horse will need to be changed to racing mode or relocated to a track prior to a race or it will incur a consistency meter penalty for the race. It will take 3 maintenance periods for the consistency penalty to wear off completely. Each maintenance period that passes will reduce the amount of penalty. If no maintenance periods have passed and the horse races it will incur a 100% penalty so that its consistency meter will be 0. If one maintenance period has passed it will incur a 66% penalty. If two maintenance periods have passed it will incur a 33% penalty. If a horse is going to incur a penalty it will be displayed beside the consistency meter and how to read it is describe below in the consistency meter section.”
This is something that trainers that use the “automatic training” method already know about, I assume.
“The 30 days is not a requirement. It is a give a take. If you want to push your horse along in training you can but the consistency meter will suffer. On the other hand if you want to be strict with the consistency meter it will take much longer to test your horse.”
As an aside here, I usually test adds in two sessions rather than let the Consistency Meter suffer….yes, that means I am just as paranoid as anyone with the Consistency Meter.
“We are not convinced allowing the consistency meter to move up no matter the number of works or even at 5 in the last 30 days is best. It is uncommon to find a horse in RL that works more than once a week on a regular basis even when they are preparing for their first race.”
“Consistency and over/under racing or working your horse Starting Dec 1st, the consistency of horses will be controlled a little more by over/under (particularly over) racing or working them. This goes beyond just the consistency meter. Horses will become a little more sensitive to time between works and races. Horses will become a little more sensitive to the distances, effort, and performance they are putting out in races and works. The impacts of these things will be seen in the consistency of the horse. The consistency of horses will not be worse than they are now so you can only improve on what you have now. The current consistency meter is more about number of works in a certain time frame. That is not what we are talking about. What we are talking about is more about time in between a work or race and distance traveled/effort exerted recently. What we are basically saying is that we are revealing that this is already in the makeup of the horse but that we are turning up the dial a little.”
A little tweak.
“You can gain improved consistency by managing the distances your horses race/work. Some will be able to travel or like more distance than others to get the improved consistency. So it depends on the horse on exactly what effect a particular work distance would have on a horse. In general you may be able to gain some consistency by limiting the distance your horse works although there may be those few that like working a little longer.”
Without tipping their hand, HRP is telling us that the sort of works we perform has an affect on the inconsistent horse. As usual, they do not hand out a lot of information here, but careful observation of the meter changes may well also yield some information as to what sort of distances appeal to the horse, thus leading to better placement down the road.
“The consistency meter is one tool to improve consistency. There are other factors as well though.”
“Just to be clear the green/red arrow does not impact performance. It is only an indicator for how the consistency meter will move during the next maintenance period. 5 races+works is neither a green or red arrow but a dash meaning the meter will not move up or down. 6 would be a red arrow and mean the consistency meter will move down during the next maintenance period unless the horse is on a farm in training mode where the consistency meter will not move down during maintenance.”
“The meters are to help in the basics. We do not believe everything should be explainable with a simple meter. The game would be pretty boring if the only point was to line up meters. Keeping the condition meter in line keeps your horses improving barring they aren’t past their prime/peak. This doesn’t mean the horse is necessarily at its best however.”