Friday, December 12, 2008

The Horseman's Hustle [...the forward...] pt.2

When Barry Holmes decided to ‘hire’ me he said that while we were at Santa Anita that would be my trial period to see if I could even be able to handle the work load that the job would require. Basically it just seemed like it was a suave way to get an extra hand with the two horses he had – GiftToBob (Sassy) and HerbsGirlKelsey (Kelsey). Getting up early in the mornings was not an easy task as the track was a seven day job which was rain or shine. With it being the middle of June by 8AM you could easily feel the temperature rising which made work conditions horrible. Within my first week or two of being at Santa Anita I was getting better walking the hot horses that came back from the track and the normal routine of the day. Barry had decided to claim a horse at Hollywood Park for $40K and by the luck of a shake Oakland Avenue (Oaky) (who was previously trained by Howard Zucker) was the new horse of our barn. I remember when I first started grooming him at Santa Anita he was a nasty big horse sometimes, he had a favorite habit of trying to kick while being groomed. Then while tacking up he seemed to enjoy trying to squish me between him and wall. Around the third week of July we had to move from Santa Anita to Hollywood Park, unfortunately Sassy didn’t know to much about loading into the large trailers so it took a ton of persuasion to get her inside regardless to the fact that the other two horses had loaded like it was no issue.

As promised since I was able to handle the work load of the three horses, Barry hired me. I arrived at Hollywood Park by 5AM every morning since the track opened at 5:30AM and I needed at least a good half hour to get everything ready and start the horses getting ready to go out. More and more I became proficient in getting the horses ready by myself to where some mornings I would have Sassy and Oaky ready to go with the rider and two stalls done by the time Barry came strolling in the barn by 6:30AM. Then there were certain days Barry would conveniently not come in and I would take care of all the horses with just the little instruction of “Walk Kelsey, have Oaky ponied, and tell the rider to back track the filly twice”. There were a day or two I was behind schedule and that would make Barry upset but some days it was hard for me to keep going when working seven days a week and working the tax deducting job took a toll on me. But I can say that Barry successfully made me into a good hand around the barn. I was able to do a lot proficiently and I learned a ton from him as well. Towards the end of my time with Barry I think it became evident that I was tired of the work loads since my day consisted of:

  • Getting the horse ready (groomed, tacked up, bandages on, tied in back of stall)
  • Clean and rebed stall, clean and refill water buckets
  • Walk hot horse until cool around shed row (which could be for 15 mins)
  • Bath horse (then continue walking until dry – another 20 mins)
  • Hose down hooves, dry with towel to avoid quarter cracks
  • Pack hooves, massage legs, and wrap
  • Redo procedure for each horse (so for me two more times)
  • Then set/prepare feed
  • Put tack away
  • Water down shed row and rake

It was a ton of work for me to then also attend school afterwards and go to my other job until night fall then go back to the track by 5AM.

In the middle of August, Barry had told me that working for him wasn’t going to work anymore if I could no longer make handle the responsibility. By that time we had gotten four horse – AGiftToBob, Oakland Avenue, AnnieOakleaf and some other bay filly.

No comments:

Post a Comment