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What's being done?
Friday, October 21, 2011 - by Ellen Harvey

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Big things – in a small way.

Sometimes the problems and challenges of the world and our sport weigh me down like 100 horses sitting on my chest.  I feel paralyzed by the enormity of the task and hope I don’t suffocate in the process.

Just last week I watched a beautifully done special with Diane Sawyer on the lives of children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

I grew ever more sad and hopeless with each passing minute until Diane asked one of the tribal leaders, “What can people watching this do to help?” 

“Buy from our businesses; come here and teach,” were two of the responses. 

In my former life, I jumped through the necessary hoops to get a lifetime teaching license good in all 50 states, but I think I’d rather shop my conscience than move it.  I just ordered 48 Tanka Bars, a business on the reservation, for my twin nephews who are avid hikers.  Tanka Bars (www.tankabar.com) are an energy bar made of buffalo meat and cranberries – yum.  It’s the just kind of thing 20 year-old kids like, right?    

We can apply the concept of doing big things in small ways to the sport and the horses we hold so dear.  We can get the 100 horses off our collective chests.  Up in Maine, Elizabeth Tewksbury teaches high school English and spends much of her spare time showing and showing off her two talented Standardbred mares, Dreamy Starlet and Revenue Stream.  Now transitioned to the saddle from their traditional on-track occupations, the mares teach folks at horse shows all over New England just what a Standardbred can do – in every imaginable discipline. 

Liz blogs about her experiences here: http://standardbredexcellence.blogspot.com/.  She has 76 followers and is trying to get 100 by the end of the year.  Won’t you join up?  Post on your Facebook page and ask your horsey friends to do the same?   We can all help our horses find 100 percent employment away from the track.  Every word, every friend, every photo is important. Liz also makes nifty “STB” patches for saddle pads, so everyone riding around you knows that yes, this is a Standardbred. 

I can’t talk about Maine without talking about the marvelous UMares at the University of Maine.  This herd of former racehorses and broodmares help teach college equine science students about husbandry and, I suspect, opens their eyes to the abilities of a breed they’d never before experienced.  The UMares all get extensive training under saddle.  They have a drill team, in fact, further amplifying their educational outreach effect.

If that’s not enough, add in decorated stalls, horses in costume and candy for their annual “Trick or Trotwhich is the second-best thing going on Oct. 29 (after the Breeders Crown).  Students decorate the horses’ stalls, the horses and themselves.  Area kids are invited to trick or treat at the school’s stables. What fun!  What a good way, low-tech and low-cost, to make friends for our horses and our sport. 

On Nov. 7, the Harness Racing Museum (full disclosure: I am a trustee) reaches out to local history buffs with an offer to “lunch and learn” about the role of Standardbreds in Orange County history.

The series is an outreach program designed to lure local residents who may never have visited the Museum in the past to do so now, in order to learn more about local history. If they’ve ever wondered why there is a trotter on the police cars in Goshen, the Museum (www.harnessmuseum.com) is the place to find that out.

 
Aarene Storms and "Fiddle," a Standardbred endurance horse

Way out on the West Coast, my virtual (we’ve never actually met) friend Aarene Storms (great name) is preaching the gospel of Standardbred endurance to competitors in that discipline in the Pacific Northwest.  Aarene and her 9-year-old Standardbred mare Naked Willow, aka Fiddle, compete in limited edition endurance events and hope someday to take on the Hambletonian of endurance races – the Tevis Cup. 

Aarene is a librarian by trade and has a great blog http://www.haikufarm.blogspot.com/.  She and Fiddle are on the trails regularly, competing, or sometimes constructing and rehabbing trails, hauling saws and chainsaws.  They show those Arabians a thing or two about endurance when they get a chance. Fiddle was adopted through the Greener Pastures group in British Columbia and Aarene steers as many future owners there as she can. 

I want to know more. What other big things are being done, in a small way?  Or medium things in a small way, small things in a medium way? You get the drift.  Please, tell me: ellen.harvey@ustrotting.com. 


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