by Victoria Howard
Luckily, for a young girl who loved horses, Allie Skowyra’s family’s farm was located next to a standardbred facility in Binghamton, NY.
When Skowyra was 9, her mother brought her to a farm and introduced her to what would become her passion and life career.
“Although my family wasn’t involved in harness racing, I was hooked the day I laid my eyes on a horse. Ironically, I’m presently back on my childhood farm where it all began for me. Guess you could say, I’ve come full circle,” Skowyra said.
“As an adolescent I groomed horses, and today I run a broodmare operation which is my major focus. In the off season, I also work for Rob and Patti Harmon (Harmon Racing) of Mildford, PA.
“My barn duties vary, depending on if it’s on or off-season; but during working season I feed, water, clean stalls, turn the mares in and out, meet with the vet, ultrasound, breed and foal.
“Along with that comes regular trips to the feed store and getting bales of hay.
“During off season when I work for Harmon Racing I’m a caretaker in the barn; mucking stalls, cleaning buckets, harnessing, bathing and putting away the horses.
“Race days include paddocking given the day we can race, anywhere from one to six horses, give or take.”
In 2021 Skowyra was the caretaker for SHECOULDBEGOOD N, who raced at Tioga Downs.
“I was the caretaker for the mare during the meet. However, the trainer who deserves all the credit is in fact, Patti Harmon.
“With any large operation it takes a village and great team to make this happen, and I wasn’t the only one who cared for SHECOULDBEGOOD N. Rodney Freese was actively involved in her care, too.”
Skowyra is the ever-ready battery that seems to have unending energy, for besides her career, she is also a wife and mother of two young boys.
Although Skowyra’s husband, Joe, is a trainer at Tioga Downs, the couple keep their businesses separate in terms of racing and breeding.
“Currently, Joe has a stable of 15 horses — an assortment of aged and homebreds. I breed and raise the horses and when they are ready for training, should they not be sold, they will go to my husband.
“He certainly helps here on the farm, but broodmares and foaling is not his passion.
“My boys — Parker who is 3, and Jackson, 20 months — spend a great deal of time in the barn, alternating between mom and dad.
“My parents who are retired also help with the boys when we have long days or are racing.
“My boys are total animal lovers. They love farm life and being in the barn, making the juggle of parent life and working long hours that much easier on us.
“As parents, we want the best for our kids, ultimately. Would I like to see them do something easier that requires less hours and gives them more flexibility as they get older? Yes, of course.
“But my parents supported my dreams and aspirations, and we will do the same. Education is first and then they can do anything they want.”
Allie said her favorite all-time horse was Mckenzie’s Star.
“My favorite would be MCKENZIE’S STAR. She is by far one of the toughest mares I’ve ever had the privilege of owning and training. She’s always been a bit quirky in her ways, but was an absolute beast on the track. She loved to race, and gave me thrills every time she hit the track. She is now retired and the matriarch of my broodmare band.
“The best horse I ever trained would be GOLDEN RECEIVER. I had him at the tail end of his racing career, and was blessed to have been with him when he won his last race at Vernon Downs where he was racing for charities at that point. He is now happily retired.”
Today, Allie and Joe have three homebreds. They are 2-year-olds. Two were stopped to develop and the third is getting ready to qualify.
“After having my boys, I don’t winter train. I stay home and focus on my children and broodmares, since I have mares foaling at this point. On occasion, I will go on the road for my husband, or the Harmons, but I try to focus mainly on the farm and kids.
“I love yearlings and prepping them, but this is when I lean to my husband for the training. Yearlings require a great deal of time and patience and at this stage of my life I don’t have the time to be able to do so. I like to raise and hand them off. It’s wonderful to see new trainers and caretakers take these athletes to new levels.”
As if Allie doesn’t have enough to do in her very busy life, she is also actively involved as an active supporter in the afterlife care of standardbreds.
“I’ve made it my goal to help where I can finding these wonderful animals who have given so much to us, into a loving, forever home.
“I do have a couple of warhorse retirees here on the farm that touched my life in certain ways to have earned happy retirements.
“I also try to help place horses when they need a new home after their career racing is over, or even save a horse that’s in a bad spot. My goal is to help save or place at least one horse per year.”