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Running Down a Dream
Bob Carson takes new owners from sales ring to turnout
written by Bob Carson

Chapter 1 – Introduction
'The Long and Winding Road'
By Lennon-McCartney, 1970

Photo Source: Wikipedia

What do you say when a friend or relative asks about buying a harness racehorse?

You want to encourage new fans but you don’t want to see people lose money. You know that having a competitive harness horse is great fun. You also know buying a non-competitive horse is expensive and not much fun. Those familiar with the sport have a good idea of the risks and rewards. However, people new to the world of harness racing often find the whole process of buying, training, staking and racing horses a confusing quagmire. It takes time to learn and appreciate our sport.

In the fall of 2010, I conducted an experiment. I took seven non-harness racing people along during a year-long trip into the world of harness horse ownership. 

The travelers were a varied lot: a woman going through breast cancer treatment, a businessman, a travel agent, a banker, a retired couple and an entrepreneur. Most of these visitors to the strange world of harness racing lived in states without harness racing. They made the hypothetical journey via the computer. Through the magic of laptops, cell phones, e-mail and digital feeds they did not miss a step.

All followed avidly from beginning to end. You might like to peek over our shoulder and read our mail. You can follow the journey and see where the road led. See how the yearlings made out. Then, at the end of the racing season, we will hear from the new visitors. See what they thought of our crazy world. And see if they return with their checkbooks.

The adventure will be revealed chronologically in 25 episodes. Each chapter has a simple title that introduces the topic. Just for fun, I included a secondary title using a song title.

We will go slowly. Rushing new fans into harness racing can be a problem. Although at first blush we appear to be a very simple sport where horses race around a track and one wins the race, anyone immersed in the sport realizes we are extremely complex. Like many sports or pastimes, the deeper you probe, the more you appreciate. An entire year will give these visitors a chance to assimilate the back stories of harness racing.

Perhaps the next time someone asks you about horse ownership, you can refer them to this saga. Perhaps you have been referred to this little adventure by someone who believes that you may wish to increase your understanding about the sport of harness racing. Or perhaps you just want to go along for the ride.

Tomorrow we start with a warning.

Thinking about jumping into horse ownership?

E-mail owners@ustrotting.com and we will get you more information to get started in the racing game. Click here to share this story with a friend.

Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

Bob Carson
Hoof Beats Magazine About the Author
Bob Carson's award-winning freelance writing has appeared in more than two dozen national publications. He is a steady contributor to Trot Magazine, The United States Trotting Association and Timeline Magazine. After more than 200 magazine articles and stories, his first novel, The Voyage of Mess (humor) was released in 2009. In 2005 he produced the documentary film, Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). In 2006 he received the Hervey Award for Journalistic Excellence and Best of Ohio Fiction awards. He has published Minor Trips (Minor League Baseball) since 1991. Bob Carson has owned harness horses for more than a decade, including a stint as a weekend trainer. He lives in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Katie.
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