Grulke: Industry must strengthen bond between young people, horses

  • click above & share!
    X
  • click above & share!
    X


  • click above & share!
    X
  • click above & share!
    X

Ginny Grulke is executive director of the Kentucky Horse Council

It goes without saying that fewer and fewer children are exposed to farms and large animals.  America has become suburbanized.  However, horses have an advantage over other farm animals and farm activities because of the special bond that forms between human and horse.  And the fact that horses can be a sport, a hobby, and a lifelong interest.

People do not understand the attraction of horses unless they are given safe, unintimidating opportunities to experience that special feeling.  The special feeling occurs through touch and through looking into the eyes of a horse that trusts you.

If the equine industry does not create formal, well-thought-out plans to provide these experiences to young people, they will not have them, and they will not understand the strong attraction to horses.

The experiences we are talking about have to go beyond a “zoo” experience where they just look at pretty horses.  They need to touch, pet, groom, and be in the direct presence of gentle horses.  

The experience also cannot be a single day of fun.  It needs to be a string of experiences that allows them to learn the language, understand the various ways in which you can be with horses, and shows them the affordable path to get started.  

The Kentucky Horse Council is an educational organization as well as an organization that promotes and protects the horse industry.  In developing events and experiences for young, non-horse-owning people, we are following both of our missions.  We are educating the general public about horses and the horse industry, and we are protecting the industry by leading new participants into it.

This must be a full-industry effort.  Everyone must pitch in, because developing the love of the horse can lead young people to jobs and investments in many different sectors:  Racing (ownership, fans), breeding (farm management or owners of mares and stallions), riding (competitive shows or trails), or just keeping a retired horse around for stress relief and companionship.

This Saturday’s Kentucky Round-Up at the Kentucky Horse Park is the first step in a long path.  The Kentucky Round-Up is designed to introduce kids and their parents to the wonder of horses.  Families will be able to participate in close-up activities with gentle horses including petting, grooming, handling minis, watching horses’ feet being trimmed, etc.  Other activities for kids include learning to draw a horse, a jump course, a barrel race, roping, reading about horses, and an equine art contest.

Parents learn about the benefits of horse involvement through a series of classes covering character development, healthy lifestyles, safety, youth groups, and more.  The day also includes over 60 vendors and exhibitors, and demonstrations every half hour in the arena of some of the most exciting horse sports:  racing, reining, barrel racing, mounted shooting, drill teams, vaulting, etc.  Advanced horsemen classes include topics appropriate for those who have owned horses for a while.

Following the daytime activities, the KHC members’ award banquet will be held, featuring First Lady Jane Beshear and Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer as speakers.  The evening features a concert by country music artist John Michael Montgomery.

We hope, with industry support, to follow up this year’s event with a series of mini-events which will be free to anyone who attended Round-Up.  These follow-up activities include educational visits to rescues, horse shows, breeding farms, and training facilities.

By allowing the kids – and their parents – to slowly understand the nature of our industry, its great variety and diversity, and the diversity of people working in the industry, from the farm worker to the very rich farm owner, they will learn that they too can participate.  They also will learn that there is a wealth of resources to help them as they get their feet wet.

Kentucky Round-Up is what the horse industry needs right now.  We are now approaching two generations away from the farm.  If we don’t act now, even the memory of rural life with horses will be gone (it currently is often held by grandparents).  This is the right time and place to be starting, and we welcome all industry supporters to join the cause.

Kentucky Round-Up
February 2, 2013
9:00 – 4:00 Daytime horse activities
5:00  KHC Members Awards Banquet
7:00 John Michael Montgomery concert
Alltech Arena, Kentucky Horse Park
Tickets are $10 in advance/$15 at the door for daytime
$25 for concert which includes daytime pass ($35 floor seat)
For details, visit www.kentuckyroundup.com

New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry
  • http://twitter.com/EJXD2 Ed DeRosa

    The excitement of the race itself first attracted me to racing, but going to the stable area with my grandfather was an invaluable exercise in learning to appreciate the equine athletes that make this sport–and my livelihood–possible.

  • http://twitter.com/EJXD2 Ed DeRosa

    The excitement of the race itself first attracted me to racing, but going to the stable area with my grandfather was an invaluable exercise in learning to appreciate the equine athletes that make this sport–and my livelihood–possible.

  • waldo

    What a wonderful idea. Horse racing has suffered immensely since the inception of racing parlors and OTB’s. We have lost the
    on track aura and beauty that drove horse racing for years. If horse racing is a
    mere gambling experience we will lose out to the casinos, which can operate,
    more efficiently than horse racing. We are to labor intensive and we cannot
    offer the same take out rates. We will survive only on the love of horses and
    the beauty and pageantry of racing.

  • waldo

    What a wonderful idea. Horse racing has suffered immensely since the inception of racing parlors and OTB’s. We have lost the
    on track aura and beauty that drove horse racing for years. If horse racing is a
    mere gambling experience we will lose out to the casinos, which can operate,
    more efficiently than horse racing. We are to labor intensive and we cannot
    offer the same take out rates. We will survive only on the love of horses and
    the beauty and pageantry of racing.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    With all due respect…I have been trying to tell the powers that be (Bob Evans People/Frank Stronachs People/Charles Hayward/Bill Rickmans People/Ron Geary/Nick & John Nicholson/Corey Johnsen/Lou Raffetto/Howard Mosner/Chris Scherf/Alan Foreman even Ms. Penny Tweetys People just to name a few) this for TEN long years!!!…Race Tracks & Horseladies/Horseman from coast to coast…The very same thing thats happened to Churches in Amercia has happened to “THE GAME”…They have not catered to the youth…Same old Ho Hum way of presenting itself…Baseball @ all levels figured it out before it went BU$T & has come back BIG TIME!!!…Every time I step foot out the door I ware a Horse Racing Hat & you would be shocked @ the people that ask me about them (such as what is Fasig Tipton/Smarty Jones) or where i got the hat!!!…Just go get a copy of “THIRTY TONS A DAY”/Mr. Bill Veeck (Bless His Soul) & find out what one Hell of a promoter (Baseball & Horse Racing) that MAN was…The book will also give you a TON of insight about “THE GAME” & political corruption…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    With all due respect…I have been trying to tell the powers that be (Bob Evans People/Frank Stronachs People/Charles Hayward/Bill Rickmans People/Ron Geary/Nick & John Nicholson/Corey Johnsen/Lou Raffetto/Howard Mosner/Chris Scherf/Alan Foreman even Ms. Penny Tweetys People just to name a few) this for TEN long years!!!…Race Tracks & Horseladies/Horseman from coast to coast…The very same thing thats happened to Churches in Amercia has happened to “THE GAME”…They have not catered to the youth…Same old Ho Hum way of presenting itself…Baseball @ all levels figured it out before it went BU$T & has come back BIG TIME!!!…Every time I step foot out the door I ware a Horse Racing Hat & you would be shocked @ the people that ask me about them (such as a Fasig Tipton hat) or where i got it!!!…Just go get a copy of “THIRTY TONS A DAY/Mr. Bill Veeck (Bless His Soul) & find out what one Hell of a promoter (Baseball & Horse Racing) that MAN was…The book will also give you a TON of insight about “THE GAME” & political corruption…ty…

  • David

    You’re correct of course and a grass-roots effort could be
    created and sustained without huge outlays of money.  The fixed costs of farm, track, training and breeding operations would
    take care of the vast majority of such a program.  And of fixed costs, perhaps the NTRA could devote a like amount
    of attention (to this) as say the Handicapping contest(s)?

  • David

    You’re correct of course and a grass-roots effort could be
    created and sustained without huge outlays of money.  The fixed costs of farm, track, training and breeding operations would
    take care of the vast majority of such a program.  And of fixed costs, perhaps the NTRA could devote a like amount
    of attention (to this) as say the Handicapping contest(s)?

  • Gottafeed

    About sixty years ago, an old timer told me that once you get horse poop on your shoes, you can never wipe it off. How right he was. I can sit in the grandstand all afternoon with a copy of DRF and bet the races and be happy as a clam, but sit in a casino in front of a slot machine? That could corrode your brain. Am I missing something?

    • voiceofreason

      You know more about marketing horse racing than the lot of ‘em.

  • Gottafeed

    About sixty years ago, an old timer told me that once you get horse poop on your shoes, you can never wipe it off. How right he was. I can sit in the grandstand all afternoon with a copy of DRF and bet the races and be happy as a clam, but sit in a casino in front of a slot machine? That could corrode your brain. Am I missing something?

  • voiceofreason

    You know more about marketing horse racing than the lot of ‘em.

  • Gordon Tallman

    Back in 1985, I began working at a racetrack.  My first job was giving stable tours.  I loved it because it gave me the opportunity to introduce people to “a whole new world” on a regular basis.  As I worked my way up through the ranks at the track, I still tried to do these tours as often as I could.  The groups ranged from grade school aged children to college vet students.  Then one day, a higher-up asked me if what I did really mattered; would it show up in the handle?  That was shortly before I turned in my resignation.

    • David

      It’s true the talent pool of “executives” back then would be
      about all it took to drive what little promise (like you) out of the business
      in fast order.  Unfortunately and for
      different reasons, the same is true today as the track guy invariably reports to
      the casino guy who devotes only lip service to the welfare side of the house.
      At the end of the day few care enough to initiate what Ms Grukle is advocating
      and of the few that do, no one possesses the skills, influence or resources to
      make it happen.  Sad.

    • LL

      I, too, have enjoyed teaching groups about what goes on behind the scenes at the track. Having owned horses for many years, I feel I can contribute from an owner’s point of view. Our track has removed the interactive activities where visitors could find out about horses, trainers, and racing in general just by pushing buttons like is possible in some museums. We had some “club” activities for young children and I will be interested in finding out if that will continue for the next season. We have themed family days but the themes are usually not horse related. Most of the time the kids run around on the grass while their parents picnic or hit the betting windows. 

  • Gordon Tallman

    Back in 1985, I began working at a racetrack.  My first job was giving stable tours.  I loved it because it gave me the opportunity to introduce people to “a whole new world” on a regular basis.  As I worked my way up through the ranks at the track, I still tried to do these tours as often as I could.  The groups ranged from grade school aged children to college vet students.  Then one day, a higher-up asked me if what I did really mattered; would it show up in the handle?  That was shortly before I turned in my resignation.

  • David

    It’s true the talent pool of “executives” back then would be
    about all it took to drive what little promise (like you) out of the business
    in fast order.  Unfortunately and for
    different reasons, the same is true today as the track guy invariably reports to
    the casino guy who devotes only lip service to the welfare side of the house.
    At the end of the day few care enough to initiate what Ms Grukle is advocating
    and of the few that do, no one possesses the skills, influence or resources to
    make it happen.  Sad.

  • fastrackfred

    very cogent remarks. my personal experience as a kid growing up in the suburbs of nyc, bears your words out. I was fortunate to have been exposed to horses as a youngster. It was as a child that the contagion took root. without that, i would have missed what i’ve come to realize was my role, the understanding and betterment of the horses in my care. 
    I had already volunteered to participate in the “roundup”, but reading this has reminded me why it is so important.
    Farm managers have long bemoaned a lack of qualified “help”, to which many selfless members have given of their time and resources, by creating such institutions as KEMI, KEEP (not the politically motivated one), KEI. But it does need to start with a passion which can be, I think, most easily acquired as a youngster, while the window is “open” so widely.
    Well done Ginny, keep up the good work. It’s not nearly all about racing or gambling, but the love of the horse.

  • fastrackfred

    very cogent remarks. my personal experience as a kid growing up in the suburbs of nyc, bears your words out. I was fortunate to have been exposed to horses as a youngster. It was as a child that the contagion took root. without that, i would have missed what i’ve come to realize was my role, the understanding and betterment of the horses in my care. 
    I had already volunteered to participate in the “roundup”, but reading this has reminded me why it is so important.
    Farm managers have long bemoaned a lack of qualified “help”, to which many selfless members have given of their time and resources, by creating such institutions as KEMI, KEEP (not the politically motivated one), KEI. But it does need to start with a passion which can be, I think, most easily acquired as a youngster, while the window is “open” so widely.
    Well done Ginny, keep up the good work. It’s not nearly all about racing or gambling, but the love of the horse.

  • http://twitter.com/warrenthebull Warren Eves

    Ginny Grulke:  I’ve been pleading to factions like Ron Charles(former Santa Anita CEO) and others to put a kid plan in place for years.  The good executives at racetracks, simply stated, do not exist any longer.  I just said it last week.  You can run stable tram tours 24-7 through every stable area in the country and it’s not going to move the needle.  We need to get the kids up close and personal, allowing them to touch(and care for) the thoroughbred.  And yes, I know all about the liability issue.  But to date, nobody in horse racing has wanted to admit we have blown three generations of young people because of ignorance.  Only recently a friend of mine took his grandson down to the paddock at famed Fairgrounds during their zebra promotion.  His 3-1/2 year old grandson Santo kept asking his grandpa questions about an outrider’s pony who stood nearby. “What’s he eating?” Santo asked.  “He’s not eating Santo, he’s got a bit in his mouth,” said grandpa.  “The bit in his mouth is for steering the horse.”  To make a long story short the pony was moved up close and personal.  Santo got to touch the horse.  And and that’s what he’s been talking about.  Just one prolific example of how racetracks have failed to make it up close and personal with the horse and the young people of our time.

  • http://twitter.com/warrenthebull Warren Eves

    Ginny Grulke:  I’ve been pleading to factions like Ron Charles(former Santa Anita CEO) and others to put a kid plan in place for years.  The good executives at racetracks, simply stated, do not exist any longer.  I just said it last week.  You can run stable tram tours 24-7 through every stable area in the country and it’s not going to move the needle.  We need to get the kids up close and personal, allowing them to touch(and care for) the thoroughbred.  And yes, I know all about the liability issue.  But to date, nobody in horse racing has wanted to admit we have blown three generations of young people because of ignorance.  Only recently a friend of mine took his grandson down to the paddock at famed Fairgrounds during their zebra promotion.  His 3-1/2 year old grandson Santo kept asking his grandpa questions about an outrider’s pony who stood nearby. “What’s he eating?” Santo asked.  “He’s not eating Santo, he’s got a bit in his mouth,” said grandpa.  “The bit in his mouth is for steering the horse.”  To make a long story short the pony was moved up close and personal.  Santo got to touch the horse.  And and that’s what he’s been talking about.  Just one prolific example of how racetracks have failed to make it up close and personal with the horse and the young people of our time.

  • Ted Kuster

    Being a throughbred breeder and owner, living and raising my family on the farm, I realize the importance of my daughters being exposed to horses, whether the riding horse or the thoroughbred. We must promote the equine industry to all youth and then the parents will follow, it can be trail riding, quarter horses, Standardbreds, pleasure and walking horses, make this the most popular Kentucky Proud product in the Commonwealth, we need to unleash the horses industry as the Bourbon Industry has; why not a horse trail, visit the farms, tracks, museums, and other attractions that we have to offer. Make the youth want to do participate in our activities, then the parents will be involved end. May we promote this vital part of our Commonwealth with an Unbridled Spirit. Ted Kuster

  • Ted Kuster

    Being a throughbred breeder and owner, living and raising my family on the farm, I realize the importance of my daughters being exposed to horses, whether the riding horse or the thoroughbred. We must promote the equine industry to all youth and then the parents will follow, it can be trail riding, quarter horses, Standardbreds, pleasure and walking horses, make this the most popular Kentucky Proud product in the Commonwealth, we need to unleash the horses industry as the Bourbon Industry has; why not a horse trail, visit the farms, tracks, museums, and other attractions that we have to offer. Make the youth want to do participate in our activities, then the parents will be involved end. May we promote this vital part of our Commonwealth with an Unbridled Spirit. Ted Kuster

  • Highgunner

    “If the equine industry does not
    create formal, well-thought-out plans to provide these experiences to
    young people, they will not have them, and they will not understand
    the strong attraction to horses. “We agree 110%. The
    personal connection with thoroughbreds is the key to bringing more
    people into our sport. We, as an organization, have been providing
    venues for people of any age (but especially kids/young adults) to
    touch, interact, lunge, etc with thoroughbred babies, racers and
    rescues for almost ten years. Many people come curious about our
    organization and fall in love with the breed. The thoroughbreds
    special spirit is like no other horse and is our greatest marketing
    tool for the sport.To this end, we have created a reality
    show for thoroughbreds called ThoroughbredCamp.org. It is run by our
    all volunteer team, with many of the volunteers having little
    experience if any with horses before they came to the organization.
    They not only get to work with the horses, they also go to the track
    and meet/talk with the backside workers and horsemen (Kenny Black,
    Larry DaMore and others). Our organization owns a small percentage of
    two horses that are training to race and this provides an ownership
    experience for these volunteers.Great article and thanks Ray
    for highlighting this issue.Ken Lian, DVM

    President Thoroughbred Education
    Foundation

    @Highgunner

  • Mame1313

    Dear Ginny – Thank you for all of your efforts. As you know, we love the races and racehorses, both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse, but it was through our hands-on exposure as young kids to ponies, 4-H, FFA, and ranch horses, and more, in Minnesota and Texas (respectively) that solidified our connection to equines of all breeds and nearly all disciplines. We believe any true connection to any horse or pony by a child will directly benefit racing in the long run, even if that experience is far from the racetrack. Keep up your smart, sound and beneficial efforts, and Happy Trails! Your friends, the Carpenters in Colorado. 

  • Mame1313

    Dear Ginny – Thank you for all of your efforts. As you know, we love the races and racehorses, both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse, but it was through our hands-on exposure as young kids to ponies, 4-H, FFA, and ranch horses, and more, in Minnesota and Texas (respectively) that solidified our connection to equines of all breeds and nearly all disciplines. We believe any true connection to any horse or pony by a child will directly benefit racing in the long run, even if that experience is far from the racetrack. Keep up your smart, sound and beneficial efforts, and Happy Trails! Your friends, the Carpenters in Colorado. 

  • Ted Kuster

    My partner in Shawhan Place, Matt Koch along with Spendthrift Farm, we bred the stakes winner My Happy Face. I wear a Smiley Face button and every one wants to know why I wear the button, it then gives me a chance to talk about our horse and the horse industry. The kids love them and I try to have one in my pocket to give them, a small way to get people interested but it works. Again we all must work with children as Ginny says, to get our youth involved, they are the future of this proud Kentucky Heritage. I guess I can jump off my soap box, but I am pleased to have this forum to present some ideas to get more young people to keep looking for that horse to be around and love.

  • Ted Kuster

    My partner in Shawhan Place, Matt Koch along with Spendthrift Farm, we bred the stakes winner My Happy Face. I wear a Smiley Face button and every one wants to know why I wear the button, it then gives me a chance to talk about our horse and the horse industry. The kids love them and I try to have one in my pocket to give them, a small way to get people interested but it works. Again we all must work with children as Ginny says, to get our youth involved, they are the future of this proud Kentucky Heritage. I guess I can jump off my soap box, but I am pleased to have this forum to present some ideas to get more young people to keep looking for that horse to be around and love.

  • Janet delcastillo

    I have suggested various times that the education to racing may begin with youth programs that already exist. Pony club, American youth horse council,Future Farmers of America and Four H programs could all have programs that guide interest in racing.Every other sport has a little league program that feeds into the sport…be it basket ball, base ball etc. our “little league” program may be these youth organizations. We can do appropriate programs that can be shared through these groups. I would be happy to help develop manuals… My book, BACKYARD RACEHORSE, is an easy to read but informative manual that I would be happy to share with these organizations. The industry needs to excite the youth to the positive side of racing…its good to have a dream…

  • Janet delcastillo

    I have suggested various times that the education to racing may begin with youth programs that already exist. Pony club, American youth horse council,Future Farmers of America and Four H programs could all have programs that guide interest in racing.Every other sport has a little league program that feeds into the sport…be it basket ball, base ball etc. our “little league” program may be these youth organizations. We can do appropriate programs that can be shared through these groups. I would be happy to help develop manuals… My book, BACKYARD RACEHORSE, is an easy to read but informative manual that I would be happy to share with these organizations. The industry needs to excite the youth to the positive side of racing…its good to have a dream…

  • Bryan P

    The NTRA in partnership with Keeneland, The Jockey Club and TOBA, is working with others in the horse industry to develop a program similar to the Kentucky Horse Council’s “Kentucky Round-Up.” In 2012, our group began working with companies like Pfizer, Farnam, Merck, AAEP, USEF and AQHA to “reverse the downward trend of horse ownership.” The group is not breed or geography specific and you’ll notice that some of the pharmaceutical companies are competitors. However, in the best interest of growing horse ownership all involved are working together. Our initial research, which was funded by Pfizer, showed that most Americans come in touch with horses at rodeos, horse races and horse shows. We will be offering our first “test ride” next month in Austin, TX and then anticipate rolling out additional events at racetracks and horse shows later this year. Everyone who takes a “test ride” or shows interest in the horses will receive a complimentary lesson or other follow up experiences in their local area. What makes this program a little different and laborious is that our group will follow up with all interested parties, determine their interest, and coordinate future communications from horse groups, sales companies, retirement programs, racetracks or horse shows in their area. I think what KHC and the Kentucky Horse Park Literacy Program are doing is a great way to expose younger people to horses and I’m confident NTRA can add to that later in 2013.

  • Bryan P

    The NTRA in partnership with Keeneland, The Jockey Club and TOBA, is working with others in the horse industry to develop a program similar to the Kentucky Horse Council’s “Kentucky Round-Up.” In 2012, our group began working with companies like Pfizer, Farnam, Merck, AAEP, USEF and AQHA to “reverse the downward trend of horse ownership.” The group is not breed or geography specific and you’ll notice that some of the pharmaceutical companies are competitors. However, in the best interest of growing horse ownership all involved are working together. Our initial research, which was funded by Pfizer, showed that most Americans come in touch with horses at rodeos, horse races and horse shows. We will be offering our first “test ride” next month in Austin, TX and then anticipate rolling out additional events at racetracks and horse shows later this year. Everyone who takes a “test ride” or shows interest in the horses will receive a complimentary lesson or other follow up experiences in their local area. What makes this program a little different and laborious is that our group will follow up with all interested parties, determine their interest, and coordinate future communications from horse groups, sales companies, retirement programs, racetracks or horse shows in their area. I think what KHC and the Kentucky Horse Park Literacy Program are doing is a great way to expose younger people to horses and I’m confident NTRA can add to that later in 2013.

  • LL

    I, too, have enjoyed teaching groups about what goes on behind the scenes at the track. Having owned horses for many years, I feel I can contribute from an owner’s point of view. Our track has removed the interactive activities where visitors could find out about horses, trainers, and racing in general just by pushing buttons like is possible in some museums. We had some “club” activities for young children and I will be interested in finding out if that will continue for the next season. We have themed family days but the themes are usually not horse related. Most of the time the kids run around on the grass while their parents picnic or hit the betting windows. 

  • millstone

    Look a the popularity of Zenyatta – her connections made her accessible to fans (some of whom never came to the races before but felt an emotion connection to her because they were allowed to get close to her).  Stories abound of John going to the stable gate to bring in fans who wanted the chance to meet Z, take a photo, give her carrots, etc.  He made that horse fan-friendly and it’s no wonder she has so many Facebook followers who continue to hang on “Zenyatta’s” every word and status update.  How many retured horses still capture fans’ attention that way she does?  the reason is because she continues to interact with her fans.  Bravo to the Mosses, John and Dottie!

    I know that Z’s temperament made her the exception and not every star is as cooperative.  But there are ways around it.
    Promote the sport by having hands-on demos with Miniature horses on weekends or wih gentle pony-riders’ horses.

    People really do want to like our sport. (just looks at the way children and adults line up at Saratoga for jockey autographs.)  As an industry, we need to do a better job by making it easier for them to like us.

  • millstone

    Look a the popularity of Zenyatta – her connections made her accessible to fans (some of whom never came to the races before but felt an emotion connection to her because they were allowed to get close to her).  Stories abound of John going to the stable gate to bring in fans who wanted the chance to meet Z, take a photo, give her carrots, etc.  He made that horse fan-friendly and it’s no wonder she has so many Facebook followers who continue to hang on “Zenyatta’s” every word and status update.  How many retured horses still capture fans’ attention that way she does?  the reason is because she continues to interact with her fans.  Bravo to the Mosses, John and Dottie!

    I know that Z’s temperament made her the exception and not every star is as cooperative.  But there are ways around it.
    Promote the sport by having hands-on demos with Miniature horses on weekends or wih gentle pony-riders’ horses.

    People really do want to like our sport. (just looks at the way children and adults line up at Saratoga for jockey autographs.)  As an industry, we need to do a better job by making it easier for them to like us.

  • Bullittvet

    Your comments are so true. I have watched the Standardbred industry in Ky. shrivel to nothingness. Just 30 years ago at the small track in Henderson, Ky. where I first worked, then raced, the stands were packed with fans.Louisville Downs closed, the famous Red MIle is almost gone and the thorougbreds are in trouble. People no longer have a connection to horses. People are more in touch with computers and videos games, becasue they have daily contact with them.So many kids are AFRAID of horses–even the minis!This is why people like casinos and instant racing. Gone are the days when thousands of people packed the stands to simply see a horse like Dan Patch or Secretariat.     When my daughter was 2 we got her a miniature horse. They grew up together and they have a bond that they share with other people wherever they go. Because he is little and well behaved “Patrick” is the perfect representative. Patrick always has the ability to draw a crowd,especially the CHILDREN. We would be happy to represent all of the horse industry. Kentucky has SO MUCH to lose….Patrick the miniature horse on facebook

  • Bullittvet

    Your comments are so true. I have watched the Standardbred industry in Ky. shrivel to nothingness. Just 30 years ago at the small track in Henderson, Ky. where I first worked, then raced, the stands were packed with fans.Louisville Downs closed, the famous Red MIle is almost gone and the thorougbreds are in trouble. People no longer have a connection to horses. People are more in touch with computers and videos games, becasue they have daily contact with them.So many kids are AFRAID of horses–even the minis!This is why people like casinos and instant racing. Gone are the days when thousands of people packed the stands to simply see a horse like Dan Patch or Secretariat.     When my daughter was 2 we got her a miniature horse. They grew up together and they have a bond that they share with other people wherever they go. Because he is little and well behaved “Patrick” is the perfect representative. Patrick always has the ability to draw a crowd,especially the CHILDREN. We would be happy to represent all of the horse industry. Kentucky has SO MUCH to lose….Patrick the miniature horse on facebook

  • Key2th8thpole

    This is great, but where does a kid go to actually learn how to work with these horses after you get them interested? Lets face it classes are expensive. How many of our youth have the chance to take classes or riding lessons? I hear St Peter and Paul school now has a great program. But aren’t the parents of those kids already financially capable of providing their children with such opportunity? Why not in our public schools? With all the garbage we teach and offer our kids in public school, here in Kentucky wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to get some of our kids who may not necessarily college bound, educated enough to work on the backside or in farm management?

    • Tracy Wachbrit

       The best place to learn when you’re interested in a track career will always be the racetrack itself. I’m the Camp Director at Thoroughbred Camp, for Thoroughbred Education Foundation, Inc. (the organization mentioned by Highgunner). I’m also a graduate of Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy and have worked on the backside of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Training Center since I was 17 (I’m now 22). While Chris’ school taught me invaluable knowledge, it will always remain true in my mind that being at the track itself and learning under the tutelage of trainers, jockeys, exercise riders, and the like has the most benefits for anyone who’s interested in this as a career.

      Our volunteers are primarily pre-veterinary students, as am I. These are young adults who will eventually become veterinarians. If we introduce them to the horse and they fall in love, they may pursue treating horses as a career. If we introduce them to the Thoroughbred and they fall in love, we may have opened up a new generation of track veterinarians. Some of our volunteers wanted to be involved with horses or grow up to be horse vets, but no one–whether the track of the various riding stables in the Los Angeles county–would allow them to touch a horse if they had no prior experience. I, personally, spent a year begging trainers at Santa Anita to hire me and give me experience while in high school. What ultimately got me a job on the backstretch? Flying all the way to Kentucky where I met someone willing to take a chance on me. He called a trainer friend of his at Santa Anita and that was that. Why is it so hard for young people to get on the backstretch? Why is it so hard for them to touch racehorses?

      At Thoroughbred Camp, we don’t just pique their interest, we take them to the backstretch. We let them touch our horses and our trainer has offered to them, if they ever wish it, that they can work for him for a little while to explore that lifestyle. If the racing industry wants my generation to come and stay, they need to appeal to our love of the horse instead of ignoring it.

      • Key2th8thpole

         Tracy, how can you be contacted regarding my daughter who would be interested in this program?

  • Key2th8thpole

    This is great, but where does a kid go to actually learn how to work with these horses after you get them interested? Lets face it classes are expensive. How many of our youth have the chance to take classes or riding lessons? I hear St Peter and Paul school now has a great program. But aren’t the parents of those kids already financially capable of providing their children with such opportunity? Why not in our public schools? With all the garbage we teach and offer our kids in public school, here in Kentucky wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to get some of our kids who may not necessarily college bound, educated enough to work on the backside or in farm management?

  • Michael J. Arndt

    Agreed

  • Michael J. Arndt

    Agreed

  • Tracy Wachbrit

     The best place to learn when you’re interested in a track career will always be the racetrack itself. I’m the Camp Director at Thoroughbred Camp, for Thoroughbred Education Foundation, Inc. (the organization mentioned by Highgunner). I’m also a graduate of Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy and have worked on the backside of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Training Center since I was 17 (I’m now 22). While Chris’ school taught me invaluable knowledge, it will always remain true in my mind that being at the track itself and learning under the tutelage of trainers, jockeys, exercise riders, and the like has the most benefits for anyone who’s interested in this as a career.

    Our volunteers are primarily pre-veterinary students, as am I. These are young adults who will eventually become veterinarians. If we introduce them to the horse and they fall in love, they may pursue treating horses as a career. If we introduce them to the Thoroughbred and they fall in love, we may have opened up a new generation of track veterinarians. Some of our volunteers wanted to be involved with horses or grow up to be horse vets, but no one–whether the track of the various riding stables in the Los Angeles county–would allow them to touch a horse if they had no prior experience. I, personally, spent a year begging trainers at Santa Anita to hire me and give me experience while in high school. What ultimately got me a job on the backstretch? Flying all the way to Kentucky where I met someone willing to take a chance on me. He called a trainer friend of his at Santa Anita and that was that. Why is it so hard for young people to get on the backstretch? Why is it so hard for them to touch racehorses?

    At Thoroughbred Camp, we don’t just pique their interest, we take them to the backstretch. We let them touch our horses and our trainer has offered to them, if they ever wish it, that they can work for him for a little while to explore that lifestyle. If the racing industry wants my generation to come and stay, they need to appeal to our love of the horse instead of ignoring it.

  • Key2th8thpole

     Tracy, how can you be contacted regarding my daughter who would be interested in this program?

  • Ginny Grulke

    Ginny Grulke here.  First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments on this important issue.  It is a positive sign to see so many people on the same page for getting young people interested in horses.  We too will be doing follow-up with individuals who came to Kentucky Round-Up (by the way, in the midst of a winter snow storm we had 1,100 people show up, and 2,000 had pre-registered.  So the need and desire is there… we just need to capitalize on it.)  I hope we can get together and work together on a specific plan.  Kentucky Round-Up is a start but much more can be done. 

    • Kentuckybebe

      What would help a lot are more riding camps.  I came across one located around Cadiz but have to wait until my grandson turns 8 to be able to attend.  Would like to know about more camps, especially in western KY.

  • Ginny Grulke

    Ginny Grulke here.  First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments on this important issue.  It is a positive sign to see so many people on the same page for getting young people interested in horses.  We too will be doing follow-up with individuals who came to Kentucky Round-Up (by the way, in the midst of a winter snow storm we had 1,100 people show up, and 2,000 had pre-registered.  So the need and desire is there… we just need to capitalize on it.)  I hope we can get together and work together on a specific plan.  Kentucky Round-Up is a start but much more can be done. 

  • Kentuckybebe

    What would help a lot are more riding camps.  I came across one located around Cadiz but have to wait until my grandson turns 8 to be able to attend.  Would like to know about more camps, especially in western KY.

Twitter