From Gate to Wire

From Gate to Wire

Think back, to the very beginning. To the very moment you stepped into the harness racing industry and never turned back. It was a gradual growth of love. You didn’t just wake up one day and decide that you want to be a world class harness racing trainer. Every great trainer, driver and owner has that one story or even person that inspired them to dive in head first into the depths of harness racing.

Like I said before, you don’t wake up one day and decide to race horses, especially harness horses. For most people, the game is in their blood. Their parents raced before them and even their grandparents ruled the business with an iron fist. For some, they stumbled upon a job of cleaning stalls and they realized the breath of a horse is the same as theirs. No matter how you tripped and fell into this world, you found yourself immersed.

You start off small. Doing all the little things like cleaning stalls and emptying buckets. Leading horses is terrifying at first especially when the babies are a little frisky. You’ll eventually set your alarm for 5am to help feed and as the horses begin munching their feed, you memorize the sound of the hums and crunching as if it was a song on the dusty radio. But soon, you find yourself becoming a morning person with each sunrise you watch from a jog cart and that morning alarm doesn’t sound so bad.

Those early mornings eventually turn into late nights at the track, then the feeling of running on only four hours of sleep has never felt so good. As crazy as this sounds, this is a choice. A life style thousands of people chose. And they all will tell you the same thing, they wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a slow love— an evolving love. You never expected your life to revolve around a hand full of four-legged creatures in a barn. Even if you knew your destiny was to be a driver or trainer in this industry, looking back now I bet you are surprised at how far you’ve come and the mountain you have left to climb.

But what keeps you climbing? What keeps you craving for that sweet taste of victory? The rush and the feeling of training that one horse, the one that was created for you. Not every horse is going to make your heart sing like the one you had 2 or even 20 years ago, but we chase for that feeling everyday. We would never do anything that doesn’t make us feel alive. We’re horse people, we’re crazy for even owning these animals. Let alone chasing the insane dreams of making it big and having that one horse that not only makes history, but to possibly rewrite the way we move throughout the industry. You not only want to make it big, but you take the world by the reins and make it your own. No one ever remembers the person who was too afraid to chase the big horses, but everyone remembers who is in the winner’s circle.

So don’t hide in the dark. Don’t hide in the barn or get stuck behind the leader. Sometimes it’s worth the jump of fate and it is especially worth that final push to the winner’s circle. You never know what could happen unless you line up behind the gate. You have to start from the very bottom and work your way to the very top. Soon you’ll look back down the stretch and realize how far you’ve come in such a short amount of time. Always remember,  you can’t find the winner’s circle if you don’t start the race the horses aren’t the only ones who race to the wire. You’re right there along for the drive too.

Photos and story by Race Marketing Intern Grace Hollars