I’m really not a morning person.
Those of you who have been with me a while, catch my posts on Facebook, or notice the absurd times that some of these blogs have been published, are well aware. I prefer to go to bed at four a.m., not get up at four a.m.
But sometimes, when you get up late, you miss really awesome stuff. Like orange sunlight flashing on a subway train as it clatters past the first turn, framed between the two pricked ears of a racehorse.
There are horses in this city, and I am here to experience this life as much as any other dream of New York.
The track opens at six, and so we slept until the luxurious hour of 4:30 before struggling outside, Starbucks in hand, to make the schlep to Queens from a Long Island suburb of a suburb, where we’ve set up base camp while we determine what city neighborhood will suit us best. We experienced what was possibly an excessive level of thrill when we drove into the horsemen’s entrance on the backside. But when you think you’ll never be able to make that leap from farm to racetrack, from training center to raceday – is there an excessive level of thrill?
I was hoping for an easy morning to shake off the nerves (and an excessive level of nerves, there were!) and fortunately, got just that. Two to jog, a filly and a colt. The filly a pragmatic, unconcerned mare already, who gave me an athletic turn of foot near the grandstand, but was otherwise a model of good behavior. The colt an interesting combination of good manners and male showboating, alternating between a lovely forward trot and ridiculous, unheralded bolts that had me bending his nose back to my boot and, I’m sure, getting a few head-shakes from the other riders.
The nice thing, though, is that everyone has to learn sometime, and everyone has their own style anyway, so no one looks quite the same or really appears out of place. Think of a hunter barn. Now think of the opposite of that. No clones here. And no fashion police, which is a massive relief to me. There are half-a-dozen riding styles, everything from stirrup length to body position to hand height. There are just as many clothing styles. From full chaps with fringes to plain jeans, with a catalog of hats, gloves and safety vests to complete the habit.
(Since you’re dying to know: I wear Tredstep half-chaps over my jeans, Tredstep gloves, and a black eventing vest.)
Cory was too busy hotwalking to take any pictures of me, until we both went up to watch a breeze. I told him that tomorrow, he has to excuse himself from the barn for thirty seconds to act as Retired Racehorse Blog Staff Photographer.