An Illustrated Guide to Running Your Horse

We welcomed back fall racing at Belmont by taking a horse over for a gallop over the sprawling dirt oval. 

It’s easy to take a horse to the races. First, you spend an obscene amount of time around the barn, getting dirty, getting straw down your shirt, drinking coffee, talking total crap to strangers, and – yeah – riding and taking care of the horse. This is a full-time job, and it’s awesome. It’s better than working at Disney World. Trust me, I know this first-hand.

Then, when he’s ready to go to Belmont Park, that beautiful piece of horsey paradise just outside New York City, follow my illustrated guide below, complete with simple steps to improve your experience (if not your actual competitiveness)!

1. Travel in style.

NYRA van to Belmont

All the cool kids ride in the van. Don't tell your mom.

2. Be prepared for bad weather.

Dust devil at Belmont Park

Evidently the space between "The Hole" and the ship-in barn is prime breeding ground for very large dust devils.

3. Make sure your horse is spotless, or the outriders’ ponies will totally show you up.

track pony, Belmont Park

Um, hello gorgeous. And I don't even like paints.

4. Bring a stepladder, as your horse will magically grow taller.

Horse in stall at Belmont

When we left he wasn't 17 hands. This is a new development.

5. Put on your “game face” early to psyche out competition.

put on the game face, Belmont Park

You want everyone to know how awesome and above all this you are.

6. You may want to prepare by running marathons over the summer months.

walking to the paddock, Belmont Park

The new and improved Belmont Schlep puts Saratoga to shame. Bring comfortable shoes, a power bar, and a bottle of water.

7. Use the time in the paddock to tell your horse how cute he looks in his athletic socks.

Belmont Park paddock

You want him to have a positive self-image.

After the race, just follow these steps in reverse. Tell him how cute he is with mud on his nose. Schlep him back to the barn. Psyche out all the grooms waiting in line for the inexplicably single hose, and wash him until he’s spotless. (Use the stepladder to wash off all that brain sweat.) Walk him dry, watching out for errant tornadoes. And head back on the good ol’ van, AKA Sweet Party Bus for Horses.

And that’s it! Easy! Let me know how it works for you.



Filed under Racing

10 responses to “An Illustrated Guide to Running Your Horse

  1. Okay, I have to work through this in my mind only but it sounds like a lot of fun – even there. And you’re right that paint is some kind of fabulous. I’m not crazy about them either.

    • One of those crazy things.. it’s a job.. but it’s fun…

      It’s long and tiring too. We’re in the last race later this week. The LAST RACE. Oye. Day still starts at 6:00. Just ends a hell of a lot later. Grooooan. Watch for me on Twitter.

  2. I so absolutely needed this virtual trip with you!!

  3. You’d like my Paint. She thinks she’s a racehorse. 🙂

    Love the descriptions, Natalie. And I am sure it is way, way better than working at Disney World.

  4. I love the comments about the well-heeled ponies showing up the racehorses if they’re not careful, and the other caption about making sure to compliment your horse’s athletic socks.
    You had me laughing!

  5. Pam

    I enjoyed your step-by-step instructions!

    That paint has a lotta chrome! Every paint I know has a mean temper; we avoid them. Could be ’cause they’re so full of themselves.

    Your chestnut looks like my big lanky chestnut! The strip on his nose goes into his right nostril, though.

    • With paints, you run into the whole problem of breeding for color and disregarding temperament.

      Of course with TBs, you run into the whole problem of breeding for speed and disregarding… temperament. Among other things. Same with all the breeding of all the animals!

      Don’t you love his stripe? Like God got lazy and went crooked with the paintbrush, we say..

      • pam

        Ha ha, too true (about breeding for… whatever, disregarding temperament). But I got lucky with my Buster. He’s off the track, super sweet, and came with bomb-proof built-in! Seriously. I was hand-grazing Buster one day, when Jim was trying to move a trash can with the little Bobcat forklift. Of course he dropped it. Buster never even lifted his head from grazing.

        I’m sorry, I tend to ramble on when talking about my horses!

      • Sounds like Buster came from Aqueduct! Haha! I can’t believe the noises our horses deal with here. Then you have them at a farm jumping out of their skin when someone turns a tractor on. Liars…

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