What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a management practice whereby the company selects its next leader by means of a series of short-term critical jobs that each carries with it a higher risk than the previous role. Companies that successfully use the horse race model have many benefits to their organizations. They cultivate a culture of leadership development and provide executives with opportunities to develop the competencies, experience and seasoning they need to lead the organization.

A company using the horse race model also signals to its employees and managers that they will be held accountable for their performance, and it establishes a system of succession in which employees can gain a foothold on the top ladder by competing aggressively for a critical job that will allow them to prove their value. This system can also help to limit the length of a company’s leadership horse race, since it gives employees an opportunity to step into the spotlight before it becomes too lengthy and distracting.

The horse race management style is most common at large corporations, and it is also used to some extent by government agencies, educational institutions, banks and insurance firms. However, some critics of the horse race strategy are concerned that it can distort the integrity of a board of directors by providing too much leeway for executives to pursue their own personal interests. The criticism is especially valid for large, publicly-held companies that are subject to intense shareholder scrutiny.

Stakes races are races that carry a specific prize, usually money or merchandise, and they are typically open to all horses that meet certain requirements. A key requirement is the ability to run a distance of at least a mile. Stakes races are usually run at a track, and they are often televised to the public.

When a horse runs a race, it is subject to a lot of physical stress. Running on an oval-shaped track takes a toll on the horses’ lower legs, straining ligaments and tendons. The horse may need encouragement to keep going hard when it gets tired. The rider will whip the horse with a long leather strap, which is called a bit. This can hurt the horse’s mouth and teeth if it is not properly applied.

Many racing fans identify with particular horses and cheer them by name. For example, Seabiscuit had a following that chanted, “Come on, Number Three!” The crowds at the race tracks of the old days were full of passionate horse lovers. Nowadays, most horse races have fewer people in the grandstands. Some blame a declining interest in horse racing on changes to the game that have reduced the prize money and increased the competition between horses. Others blame it on a shaky economy, and still others claim that the sport is simply out of fashion.