Home > Running Down a Dream > Chapter 24 – Mary’s Thoughts

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

Chapter 24 – Mary’s Thoughts
“Along Comes Mary”
by The Association, 1966

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Let’s hear from one of our visitors.  Mary and her husband Doug followed Mariko and Fantail all year long.  They visited the training center, the fairs and the racetracks. They checked the progress of the horses on their computer every week.

My husband and I have been friends with Bob and Sue since high school. After Bob left teaching, we noticed his increasing passion and excitement as he became more and more involved in the world of harness racing.  Every time we were with him he would talk endlessly about watching his horses as they trained for the upcoming racing season.  We began to wonder what all the excitement was about.  His enthusiasm was contagious.  We felt compelled to accept his invitation and to join in the fun.  We have been on quite an exciting ride for the past year.
We loved visiting the farm on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border where the horses are trained.  The first time we went we stood in a cold, wet, spring rain watching Mariko and Fantail pulling the sulkies around the track.  They had only been out a few times previously and were very distracted each time they passed us on the side of the track.  Fantail broke stride but we remained proud.  Every return trip showed improvement.  We watched the process evolve as our trainer worked daily with the fillies.   Our horse knowledge grew with each visit to the farm.  Hopefully, we had learned enough to understand what was to come. 
Racing begins –

We never realized that there were so many choices:  Sire Stakes, Stallion Series, racetracks, fairs.  An owner has to decide where his horse will race before he knows if the horse is good enough.  It was certainly a roller coaster ride of emotion!  We hoped for a good post position, a good driver, and of course some luck!  Sometimes we did well, other times we fell short of our hopes. We were beginning to understand the ups and downs of this adventure.

A frustration that we felt was having a different driver for each race.  We quickly learned that the driver chooses the horse he feels will afford him the best opportunity to win.  We did feel like proud parents when Mariko won one of her races!   It was an exhilarating experience for us as newcomers to this sport.  We also experienced many defeats:  breaking stride, getting boxed in and then being unable to advance, colliding with another horse which required a week to rest and heal.  The list is endless.

We did not completely comprehend all the possible problems that could occur during a season.  As each racing day approached we eagerly drove to the venue or sat glued to our laptop as the time ticked down.  We always felt a pit in our stomach as we heard the announcer shout, "They're off"!  It was amazing to watch as the graceful, muscular bodies moved around the track. They are beautiful animals and we truly have grown to respect and appreciate their power.  
We last visited the horses at an Amish farm in Ohio.  They earned a well deserved time of rest and relaxation as the racing season drew to a close.  They galloped along the rolling hills of deep, lush, green grass.  We watched them run and frolic.  It was a great day for all of us.  We are all hopeful as the next season draws closer.  When Mariko and Fantail return to race, we will be following.  We have experienced the excitement. 

I may still have trouble identifying a trotter or a pacer, but I hope to gain that knowledge and much more as we continue on this fascinating journey!





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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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