Life in Genesee County has been good to me. Until now.
At 10 years old, I’ve lost my part-time job helping at the
races and all my harness race horse friends are leaving the state of Michigan to find work elsewhere. Why are so many race horse teams moving out of state?
The horse racing industry is complex, and I struggle to wrap my mane around it. Naaaay … my owners are some of the top horse trainers in the country, yet I’ve heard them say they just can’t make a living racing horses in Michigan anymore. It doesn’t make sense.
What happened? I don’t understand it all, and maybe I never will, but I’ve read that, “The rise of online wagering in other states, the expansion of Michigan’s lottery and, especially, the creation of the state’s commercial and tribal casino industry dramatically sapped the dollars wagered on horses in Michigan.” My source is a Crain’s Detroit Business article published May, 2015.
Apparently, the industry is doing very well in other states, especially neighboring Ohio. I’m perplexed. Why don’t our state legislators consider the jobs, tax revenue and industry spending that Michigan’s economy is losing? After all, race horses need trainers, groomers, farriers, property for pasture, veterinary care, all kinds of tack and equipment, not to mention trucks, trailers and lots of fuel. Naaay! Don’t forget people food and horse food. We pony horses like to eat hay and grain, too!
What’s a pony horse, you ask? Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you. While I am primarily a pleasure horse, I enjoyed my part-time job immensely. In case you don’t know horses very well, we like having jobs to do! We also like to partner with and please our owners, so working is a good way to satisfy a horse.
A pony horse carries an outrider, the person who helps both horses and humans throughout a race day. We keep things moving, help keep the rules and maintain a safe environment during training and warm up times and during the racing. I’m trained to respond, keep calm, move close to the race horses, and guide them in the right direction. Like a friendly traffic cop. That’s me in the photo being ridden by my owner during a race.
Since my owners are in the process of moving, they thought it best to leave me at the family property, a Centennial farm in Lapeer county, for the winter. They need to train and race my friends in Florida. We are probably moving to Ohio next Spring.
Did you know that most horses are quite social? Naaaay! Yes, I miss my friends already! It’s lonely here without them. I’m also sad to be honest. My family has been breeding, training and racing horses in Michigan for four generations!