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July 13, 2013

A new kind of racing is turning a dream into reality

There are really no words to describe getting on a race horse, getting behind the starting gate and taking off full speed at a trot. All I can say is it is a bumpy ride that gets the cheeks bouncing and your helmet pushing back on your forehead in the wind.

I have just two races under my belt, and even though I have not even come close to winning a race, I am doing something I have always wanted to do — race a horse on its back. As a kid I used to tell my parents I wanted to become a jockey. They told me I would be too big, as I was the size I am now at age 12. Also my family had the wrong kind of horses, Standardbreds instead of Thoroughbreds. A Standardbred is raced with race bike (sulky) behind them, not with a jockey on its back.

That never kept me off their backs however. I just never thought I would actually be on top of one racing it in front of hundreds of people.

OK, I am not Calvin Borel, Mike Smith or Julie Krone, but my dreams started becoming more realistic, somewhat, when I saw a new kind of racing at Vernon Downs called Racing Under Saddle or monte racing. RUS is a “hybrid” type of horse racing that combines elements of Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing — Riders and a saddle, not drivers and a sulky racing full speed at a trot instead of a gallop.

The United States Trotting Association has sanctioned “RUS” monte trotting and provides qualifying standards and qualifying races (through various tracks) for horses and jockeys choosing to participate. Riders must pass a written and practical exam to race.

My practical exam involved me starting my horse behind a moving gate (attached to a car) and getting around the track in a set time. That went very smoothly as my horse, 5-year-old Cartier Field, took off and never missed a beat. Everybody said that horse left off the gate at what seemed like 100 mph and never looked back.

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