Q: You’ve said that a trip to Woodbine with your mother is when you knew that you wanted to work in horse racing. Describe the moment that inspired you that fateful day at Woodbine.
A: After watching my first race I was amazed by the horses and jockeys. I couldn’t believe how fast and fit these horses were. I was lucky & I didn’t have a job at the time and was in need of one, so it really worked out in my favour meeting a trainer the same day.
Q: Your stepfather introduced you to a trainer friend of his, you asked the trainer for a job that day and were working at the track the next day. Tell us about your first day on the job.
A: It was interesting, to say the least. The backstretch is really a completely different world. It was an early start which I wasn’t used to at all. I used to be the type of person to sleep in until 1 pm. So when I was told I had to be up and ready before 5, I was shocked lol. When I first arrived at the track the trainer signed me in because I didn’t have a license. When we got to the barn he showed me around, I met his horses and employees. Then he took me out to the training track to watch his horses and explain a little bit more about racing to me. I literally knew nothing at all about racing.
Also, something kind of funny, not many people know about my journey with racing. When I was younger I was in an accident at a horse show and was kicked pretty bad. So since that, I was scared of getting hurt again. So my first season spent at the track I really didn’t do much besides barn chores, mucking, cleaning feed tubs, water buckets etc because I wasn’t comfortable around the horses. Now I’m usually the person who will take the “bad” horse from someone lol.
Q: There are a lot of young women and men that would love to get into the horse racing business, would you recommend them doing it your way or would you suggest something else?
A: Well if you’re able to do it the way I did it I say go for it! I was lucky enough that my stepdad was friends with a trainer. If you don’t know anyone in the racing industry sometimes it can be a little tricky to find a way in especially in Canada. In the US there is plenty of jobs in racing and you can usually find postings online.
Q: What is your favourite part of your job?
A: My favourite part of my job is being surrounded by such talented horses & very knowledgeable people within the industry. I’m always learning something new every day & I’m very fortunate to work for Mark Casse.
Q: What is your least favourite?
A: This is tough, I really enjoy my job. I will say we have some really long days though, so it can be tough if you’re at the track all day until late then back early the next morning.
Q: You played Rugby in high school and college, it’s a hard-hitting game. In an interview, you talked about falling off horses and how it hurt. Explain to those who have never played rugby or fallen off a horse, what the pain is like for both, and which hurts more?
A: Absolutely rugby is a tough game, but so is riding horses.
For both, it just depends on how bad the hit or fall was.
With rugby, it’s a person or a few people hitting you and taking you down. So depending on that and the size of the person and if they land directly on top of you it can be quite painful. I’ve been fortunate enough that my few falls from a horse’s back haven’t been bad. Just sore, nothing broke. It certainly hurts hitting the ground coming off a horse especially if they’re big.
Q: You are a part of the Nexus Racing Club. Their mission is to introduce people from 18-30 years old to horse racing. I have nieces that are in your age group and they are very concerned with animal welfare. As you know, horse racing tends to get national attention when things go wrong. What would you tell my nieces about horse racing, specifically how horses are cared for, to ease any concerns about the treatment of racehorses?
A: I would tell them we look after these horses better than we do ourselves. You know when the smallest thing is off with a horse the vet is called to make sure they’re 100%, if they need time off they’ll sometimes be sent to the farm for a “vacation”. The horses go out & give us everything they got, we have to do the same in return. I can’t speak for everyone, there are bad & good people in every equine discipline & it’s always the bad people that are in the media. There are more good people than bad in our sport.
Q: You are internet savvy with a large following on Twitter and a popular blog, Gate to Wire. How would you suggest the horse racing industry use social media to appeal to potential younger fans?
A: A big part of it is marketing, we need people posting engaging content and advocating for our sport constantly in order for it to grow and attract more fans.
Q: What is Gate to Wire’s mission?
A: Gate To Wire’s mission is to grow our sport and get new fans involved young or older. I try to tell people’s stories and how they became involved in racing in hopes to inspire others.
Q: Finally, horse racing is known for betting. Do you bet on the horses? If so, how does your relationship with the horses influence your choices?
A: I don’t bet often, it’s never been something I’ve really been into.
But if I do bet I go off of how they were that day, how they’ve been doing, how they’re going into the race etc.