Sunday, October 28, 2012

From Furlongs to Fences

On Saturday October 27th, my mother, a friend and I loaded into the car for a quick drive up to Fair Hill, Maryland.  A group of dedicated people arranged a packed full day of education for FREE for people who wanted to see what our OTTB's learned at the track before they came into our lives.  It was presented in cooperation with the Retired Racehorse Training Project that was made popular by Steuart Pittman's Trainer Challenge that was done at the MD and PA Horse World Expo's.

At 8:30 we met at the Clocker's Tower at the Fair Hill Training Center with Training Center Manager Sally Goswell and Alex Brown who wrote the book Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and his Legacy.  They gave us an inside view on the track that they train on and the facilities.  They explained the different between galloping and breezing.  We got to watch Mike Trombetta's horse Next Question breeze.  His horse should be flying out of New York on Monday to head to the Breeder's Cup.  I wish him luck as he tries to out run the Hurricane Sandy!  I was excited to see Michael Matz' group come out on the track to train.  Also got to see him ponying a horse that morning.  I grew up when he was at the top of his show jumping career and I loved him. 

I was dumb and forgot to take my camera so all I have is some cell phone pics. Grrr.

Michael Matz set

Michael Matz

Next our group went to tour Bruce Jackson's Therapy Center which is located at the Training Center.  He has a beautiful facility with a variety of ways to get the horses back healthy and to also keep them at the top of their game.  He has a AquaPacer that is a treadmill that you can fill with any level of water depending on the horse.  We next saw the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber where Next Question was receiving his treatment after his breeze.  Then is was on to the Cold Saltwater Spa.  He also has a stall set up with the vibration plates and an area set up with infrared heat.  If you go to Planet Fitness gym, they have the same thing on a much smaller scale for people.  I think he also has about 50 stalls at his barn also. 


Hyperbaric Chamber
Vibration Plate Stall

Then it was on to tour Mike Trombetta's brand new barn.  He did a wonderful job and everything is well thought out and practical.  He was informative and didn't seem to mind answering questions which I found very nice and down to earth. 

Next we walked through the Herringswell Stables that Graham Motion trains out of.  He is also headed to the Breeders Cup with the horse Animal Kingdom.  Office Manager Sue Kenny was very nice and told us a little about all the horses.

At the same time of the barn tours, if you had planned on it, you could take your OTTB on a trail ride of the park led by Alex Brown and exercise rider Jennifer Paxson.  I do believe they even took them to the training track to have a go around. 

We then congregated back at the Fairgrounds where they presented OTTB's for adoption or sale by different organizations.  They did have a little clinic that Steuart Pittman did on some of the training of OTTB's.  Exercise rider and author Alex Brown, trainer Tim Woolley and Jennifer Paxson showed what tack is used on them in training and why things are done the way they are.  They rode two of the horses that were in their second career and it was amazing to see them remember what they were taught to do.  Some of the clinic riders also tried to ride like a jockey too.  Its much harder than it looks! 

After what was a very long day, the group met at the Fair Hill Vet Clinic where three vets from New Bolton went over the common injuries and problems that a lot of OTTB's face when leaving their career as a race horse. 

I was more than impressed with all the things that were done for people that wanted to see behind the scenes.  Now granted it wasn't the track life but at the Training Center all you saw was happy horses!  All were healthy, shining and relaxed.  It helps to keep their minds fresh that all barns had turnout for their horses and plus their is plenty of trails to keep them always doing something different.  I almost guarantee that if you compared the number of horses with ulcers at the track compared to the number at the Training Center, it would be a huge decrease. 

Today they held an All Thoroughbred Show at the Fairgrounds.  Luckily it sounds like the weather held out and I do know that they had filled the maximum number of entries in every hunter class.  They had some amazing sponsors that stepped up to the plate to donate prize money and any donations left over where going to support various TB charities.

I hope that they will hold this again next year and I am very thankful for the dedicated individuals that donated their time and knowledge and connections to share all their years of racehorse experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice color choice on the blog. It is really easy on my eyes and I have bad eyes too so that's a really big compliment lol