Monday, August 27, 2007



E-book - Oct. 19th
Print - Dec. 28

I spent five years on the racetrack and thought I'd post weekly blogs about some of my experiences there. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask in the comment section or e-mail me directly. Working behind the scenes on the backstretch of a racetrack is not glamorous. It's damn hard work. Work that begins an hour before the crack of dawn and doesn't end until evening. Generally, the morning's work is over by ten or eleven a.m. (there's six hours right there). At that time, the horses get fed, usually oats with a handful of sweet feed. Give them a lot of hay and water and they're set for the day.
If a groom's charge isn't racing that day, then he/she gets the afternoon off. They must return by 4 p.m. to muck out stalls, refresh the water pails and feed the horses their second meal of the day. Then they're free to... Did you think I was going to say party? Very few have the energy to do much more than go to bed. Dawn comes early. If a horse is racing that day, the groom can plan to spend from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. working. This 7 days a week, 365 days a year job provides no rest for the weary. Horses could care less about Christmas, Thanksgiving or the 4th of July. They do know when it's Sunday though, because most stables are laid back when there's no racing. If a horse is alert, bright-eyed and his coat sparkles with shine and is dappled, you know he's got a great groom. The owner/trainer should reward this person well, because others will want to "steal" him/her away.
Lifetime racetrackers are not uncommon. I've seen professional grooms in their 50's or older, who've been at it since they were fifteen. At this point in their lives, they probably have charge of only one, perhaps two horses who are top of the line racers. Watch for my next post next week entitled "Race Day."

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