Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anyone Got Bubble Wrap?

As some of you may (or may not) know, I own and operate a 50 acre off-the-track standardbred rescue facility called New Horizons Equine Center, which is located in the heart of standardbred country.  I'm located about an hour from Windsor Raceway, Western Fair Raceway, about 25 minutes to Hiawatha, 10 minutes to Dresden Raceway and about 2 hours to Clinton.  Currently there are six horses that reside here and five of them came directly from the racetrack a little more than 2 years ago.  Some came with substantial injuries and some came with minor ones.  The point is, after some down time, they are now all in good shape and in good health.  I must admit, when I first started this facility there were many things I was unsure about.  Being in Southwestern Ontario, we get quite the volatile weather; sometimes hail, strong winds, cloud bursts, etc, so for them to be outside day and night, well, let's say I was not extremely comfortable with that.  I always thought that something would happen to one of them due to some outside the time Stewie Griffin went for groceries...

Come on, admit it, some of you trainers and owners out there are terrified to leave your horses out overnight, especially before a race!  But look at it this way;  You leave them in for a week, then decide to let them out to blow off some steam, and what happens?  Well, they'll be so damn excited to breathe the air that they very well could get themselves into a bit of the time Peter Griffin tried Red Bull for the first time...

Horses are afraid of two things:  Things that move, and things that don't move, so by letting them out on a daily basis, you're allowing them to experience the world around them.  And if you've taken the time to buddy up the ones that get along together, you shouldn't have any horse coming back to the barn looking like he just took on Chuck Liddell in the octagon!  The proof is in the proverbial pudding when the racing world was introduced to Finnish-born Riina Rekila, who has proven that her techniques win races.  The 29-year-old had a career year in 2010 with a pair of star three-year-old fillies, Random Destiny and Christiana Hanover.  In a recent article from Standardbred Canada, she dishes about some of her secrets to success;

'Rekila and her husband, Esa Lahtinen, decided it was time to leave Finland.  After some research, they determined Ontario was the place for them with its attractive purses, quality horses and strong grassroots program.  When she set up her stable in Campbellville in 2007, she figured, "why fix what isn't broken."  The successful training techniques she used in Finland proved to work just as well in Canada.  One secret to her success is that her horses stay out in the paddock for extended periods of time. "They are not out 20 minutes,” the conditioner explained. “It can be six hours if it’s daytime. Or nighttime, it can be 15 hours. They have shelter, warm water in the winter, hay, and we feed them four times a day.”

I guess after operating this facility for approximately 4 years now, I'm more relaxed when it comes to letting my horses truly be horses.  Geesh, if we take that away from them we are no longer racing a horse, but racing our own insecurities....and how can we possibly get to the winner's circle that way?

No comments:

Post a Comment