Eh, Bob, I have never heard of racehorses being “conditioned” to pee or not to pee (that is the question…) This would seem to presuppose that you can housebreak horses, i.e. train them when and where to relieve themselves, and you can’t. The reason you can housebreak dogs and cats is because you’re making use of their instinct to mark territory, and not to soil their dens. Horses, however, being free-roaming herbivores, don’t have this same sort of instinct, so you can’t really housebreak them.
Yes, yes, I know, the story of Misha the Fabulous Housetrained Horse is widely posted all over the Web. If you go back and read the original story, you’ll see that the owner trained herself to let the horse out every 4 hours to pee and poop.
What she has here is not a horse that is really housetrained–she has a horse who learned that if she went out through the door and relieved herself, she would receive a treat. I would also be very interested in knowing just exactly how long it took her to teach the horse this–I’m betting it took months, but that Misha learned her lesson very, very well, because 12 years later, she’s still hopefully doing her “trick” for a reward. Horses are like that. I would also like to know how many “accidents” Misha has had that somehow didn’t get mentioned in the website. A dog that is truly housebroken, on the other hand, will go through incredible agonies to hold it and avoid soiling the den.
But the thing is, Misha’s results aren’t reproducible. There’s no pet-owners body of knowledge concerning “housebreaking horses” the way there’s a body of knowledge for “housebreaking cats and dogs”. Misha is a very unique horse. Nobody else that I know of has ever been able to get a horse to do this.
And sometimes a person, with a tremendous amount of effort can get a miniature horse, the really teeny ones that live indoors, to behave as though it were housebroken. This usually involves the person being extremely alert to when the horse needs to relieve itself, and hustling it over to the agreed-upon location in time.
There is only one person on the Web that I found who says you can housetrain a miniature horse, but upon reading her, I see that she’s really training the person to be alert to when the horse needs to go, and taking it outside in time.
Basically, you just stand there with a container and wait for the horse to pee. And here’s where we address the OP.
Most racehorses are male. When a male horse urinates, he needs to let his penis drop down out of the sheath. So he gets this big THING hanging down there, and then he pees. Man, does he ever pee. He pees a river, a lake, an ocean. Racetrack touts leaning on the fence would naturally be impressed by this, and to city kids like them, a racehorse would be the only equine they would ever have had any contact with. Hence the saying, “To pee like a racehorse”, rather than “pee like a plowhorse” or “pee like a carriage horse”.
A good friend of mine used to work as a courier for a lab which did the drug testing on the urine samples from the win, place and show horses at the local racetrack. He says that the horses were conditioned to the sound of a particular whistle, and they would piss on command when a cup (on a long stick) was placed under them and the whistle blown.
I did some Google searches to see if I could find documentation or mention of this practice, and didn’t find anything.
Thoroughbreds are not given any water before they race. In fact, back in the day, if you wanted to fix a race by slowing a horse down, you would give that horse a bucket of water right before the race. If a horse is thirsty, they’ll drink 5 gallons at once (not good).
Horses can be conditioned to urinate on command to some extent. If the horse doesn’t have to go, you can whistle until you’re blue in the face and it won’t have any effect. However, if the groom is willing to put in the effort, the horse can be relaxed enough by whistling to let it go at an opportune time. Not sure I’d refer to this as housebreaking, though - they don’t live your house.
As BobT said, it really is a multimedia experience. I’m not sure why the phrase would be “racehorse.” My best guess would be that it’s a phrase orginated by racetrackers. They really do have some colorfully descriptive phrases.
I’ve had the unique chance that very few get. I have walked ON the track next to the horses during the Post Parade at Triple Crown races. While I don’t remember seeing any piss during the Post Parade, they sure let loose IMMEDIATELY before in the outdoor Paddock areas. ( Just to lay to rest the idea that you can train a horse not to piss before a big race. I believe the Kentucky Derby is about as Big Race as it gets in the United States).
Lawdy, do they go. And go. And go. Volume AND force!!! Impressive, if such things impress you.
A neighbor of my parents used to raise Arabian horses and I was present during a semen collection procedure for use in artificial insemination. I can personally attest to the fact that urine isn’t the only thing stallions produce in volume and force. OH MY GOD!