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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 19, 2009
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    Default Working on the track- exercise rider, pony horse?

    I'll start by saying I hardly know anything about the track. But! I love my TB's off the track, I love their temperaments coming off the track, I love young horses, I love hot and smart and athletic TB's. I love their drive. I love being out in the barn actively doing something with the horses- rain, wind, snow, dripping sweat because it's so darn hot. All fine.

    I've been riding horses in the family since I was a very small child and owned horses at home the past 11/12 years so I have plenty of hands on experience- not just boarding or taking lessons. Wrapping, walking out, feeding, grooming, all that. I have shown plenty in hunters and jumpers as well as roughing it out on the trails, and am now into dressage and eventing. I do understand that racing is a whole different kind of world with different rules and ways of doing things and I'm okay with that.

    I am really interested in working on the track...maybe not permanently, but for now. At least it'd be a different experience and I'd get to learn about another facet of the horse world.

    I'm 5'5" and weigh about 130 or so, I'm pretty strong and fit. I have a couple OTTB's of my own and LOVE taking them out to gallop. Obviously different than what it'd be on the racetrack, but I love it. I don't really have a desire to be a jockey (nor am I the right height/weight for that), but I think exercise riding would be fun and at the least, a great new experience. I don't mind early hours or bad weather, I know how to keep my mouth shut and do as I'm told and work my ass off until there's nothing else left for me to do that day. I'm not exactly looking for a job just cleaning stalls and scrubbing buckets, as I already do that all the time, but I'd also be fine walking out horses, grooming, bathing, whatever.

    Also, is there any way I could be involved with track ponies? I've read a bit about them but I'm sure it varies depending on the track, the trainer, and the day. I have a really lovely coming 6yr old OTTB gelding that would probably really take to being a track pony if that's even slightly possible. He just makes 16 hands, is pretty solidly built for being a TB. I got him as a late 3yr old off the track. He was trained but never raced, just didn't have the interest. I've trail ridden him, competed in hunters, and done a few horse trials. Great solid guy with a fantastic brain- steps off the trailer quiet and ready to work anywhere you take him, never blinks at anything, and doesn't care what's going on around him. Will stand like a rock forever if I want him to, but is ready to go the moment I need him to. I can move his body anywhere I want it and he doesn't care about horses anywhere around him. Would there be any "job" available for us? I'm sure he'd need some actual "on the job" type experience at the track before being a confirmed track pony but what kind of opportunities would be available for us? Maybe he could come with me to the track if I could exercise horses and then I could use him to pony horses to the gate for races?

    Just typing out my thoughts and looking for people that know the industry to give me input.

    Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Oct. 29, 2003
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    Ocala, FL
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    Default

    Is there a track near you? Better yet, a training center or farm with racing stock? Best to learn off the track first if you can - safest. Lots of people start like you - they have an interest and go to a farm or the track to learn. It's best if you know someone local to show you the ropes and steer you to the better trainers to work with. As you have probably read and heard, there can be a dark side to racing, and you do not want to get stuck with an abusive (to people and/or horses!)/non-paying/deadbeat trainer. There are many good ones out there, but you may need an entree into those barns.

    Even though you sound ideal, remember, it is not just you to worry about - if you have a trainer who does not care for the horses well, he/she could put you on unsound or dangerous horses. Just something to keep in mind.

    Lots of COTHers have track or farm connections, so perhaps if you post your location, they can bring you around and introduce you or show you the ropes.

    I would assume a trainer would start you as a hot walker and see how you handle from the ground and get to know you a bit before having you gallop, but that depends on the trainer.

    Your horse sounds like he may make a good pony - again, best place to find that out is off the track to start. Try ponying or have an experienced pony person try him out.

    Good luck - sounds like you have the right attitude and abilities!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    Oct. 19, 2009
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    Default

    Awesome- thank you for more information!

    I am located in central MD, about 40 minutes from Pimlico...if that is of any help.

    I'm not picky about where I'd start to gain experience- I just want to learn! Even if it's not for me, extra knowledge never hurts. Especially since I love getting TB's off the track to use as my riding horses- the better I know about what they're used to on the track, the better I'll understand them when I retrain them. I'm even open to steeplechasers.

    How can I try him out as a pony horse? I wouldn't know where to go or start for that.



  4. #4
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    Baltimore, MD
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    You would have to go to Laurel or Bowie then. Country Life breaks lots of babies, that would be a good place to learn. I do not suggest you and your horse learning how to pony anywhere though. You learn on an experienced pony then test him out.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 14, 2011
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    racetrack
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    A farm is a MUCH better place to start. With racehorses, everything you did with regular horses you will too, to the highest degree. EVERYTHING requires 10x more effort, precision, perfection. It is tough as nails but once you catch on you will be stronger and tougher than you could ever imagine.

    Pimlico probably won't be a great place to find work. It is a short, high class meet. At most tracks you can walk the barns to find work, however at Pimlico, everyone ships in there within a short time of their races, not many actually send their barns there. Therefore it is a tough place to find a gallop job. Most horses coming in are already fit. The ones that do need exercised come with a division of their stable that includes their groom and a rider.

    Laurel is a longer meet and more people base there, it would be a good place to find a steady job. Stay away from the larger ops for a while, while they can pay very well and offer attractive perks, the requirements are very strict and borderline ridiculous. Find a fun, supportive mid sized op.

    If I'm not mistaken, Fair Hill is in MD. Drive around, say "hi" to people, it is a big industry, you won't have any trouble finding an outfit you fit with. Don't worry about things like stirrup length, etc. I ride med-long unless I'm working one. I am 5'7 and 140. IMO and in a lot of guys opinions, balance and good hands are the most important qualities. I'd rather see a smart, sympathetic rider that was riding long and perhaps a little heavy than some 100 pound disposable gallop boy bouncing on their backs and whacking them in the mouth.

    Always tie your reins in a knot when you mount, and know how to hold a cross. Frankie Lovato has some great videos on YouTube about these things.

    As for ponying, as a living, it sucks. Most folks that only pony are, well, people that are incapable of anything else. However, once you begin working for a barn, you could start ponying in the morning and taking their's to the gates for races. Most trainers prefer having a horse and rider their horses are familiar with on race day and would be delighted to have you take their horses. I still personally pony all of mine on race day. Breaking in a pony is TOUGH. I highly reccomend some ace on your horse's first couple of times. Trust is the ultimate quality in a pony. My best pony ever was only 15 hands, but he was my partner.

    Gosh this post has become long! You sound like you have the makings of a very useful hand on the backside. I know gumtree is south of you, but I think a PM to him would be a great idea, I suspect he has some connections up your way.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 29, 2013
    Location
    The West
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    68

    Default

    I agree - start at a farm! It will be easier to find somebody to give you a start on a farm than a racetrack.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2009
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    327

    Default

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-...=9781452580913
    Book by former female jockey and very good exercise rider.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2008
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    Over where it's HI in the middle and round on both ends.
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    I sent you a pm
    My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2007
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    My Own Private Idaho (aka KENTUCKY)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelico View Post
    A farm is a MUCH better place to start. With racehorses, everything you did with regular horses you will too, to the highest degree. EVERYTHING requires 10x more effort, precision, perfection. It is tough as nails but once you catch on you will be stronger and tougher than you could ever imagine.

    Pimlico probably won't be a great place to find work. It is a short, high class meet. At most tracks you can walk the barns to find work, however at Pimlico, everyone ships in there within a short time of their races, not many actually send their barns there. Therefore it is a tough place to find a gallop job. Most horses coming in are already fit. The ones that do need exercised come with a division of their stable that includes their groom and a rider.

    Laurel is a longer meet and more people base there, it would be a good place to find a steady job. Stay away from the larger ops for a while, while they can pay very well and offer attractive perks, the requirements are very strict and borderline ridiculous. Find a fun, supportive mid sized op.

    If I'm not mistaken, Fair Hill is in MD. Drive around, say "hi" to people, it is a big industry, you won't have any trouble finding an outfit you fit with. Don't worry about things like stirrup length, etc. I ride med-long unless I'm working one. I am 5'7 and 140. IMO and in a lot of guys opinions, balance and good hands are the most important qualities. I'd rather see a smart, sympathetic rider that was riding long and perhaps a little heavy than some 100 pound disposable gallop boy bouncing on their backs and whacking them in the mouth.

    Always tie your reins in a knot when you mount, and know how to hold a cross. Frankie Lovato has some great videos on YouTube about these things.

    As for ponying, as a living, it sucks. Most folks that only pony are, well, people that are incapable of anything else. However, once you begin working for a barn, you could start ponying in the morning and taking their's to the gates for races. Most trainers prefer having a horse and rider their horses are familiar with on race day and would be delighted to have you take their horses. I still personally pony all of mine on race day. Breaking in a pony is TOUGH. I highly reccomend some ace on your horse's first couple of times. Trust is the ultimate quality in a pony. My best pony ever was only 15 hands, but he was my partner.

    Gosh this post has become long! You sound like you have the makings of a very useful hand on the backside. I know gumtree is south of you, but I think a PM to him would be a great idea, I suspect he has some connections up your way.
    As someone who makes her living Ponying....I find that comment about people who pony being incapable of doing anything else a bit offensive...I galloped for years, still do, but its not worth the risk when I make the same money from the back of a horse I know for a FACT is sound.

    Please don't generalize...not every pony person is a talentless hack....some of the horses I take crawl into my saddle, try to put me and my pony through the fence, and in general take 2 hands just to control somewhat.

    There are lots of gallop riders incapable of controlling two horses at one time...it's not all that easy.
    Last edited by pinkdiamondracing; Feb. 1, 2014 at 04:03 AM. Reason: dyslexic fingers
    The only difference between a runaway and a fast gallop is nothing but a SMILE
    Most horses cross the Rainbow Bridge, but TEDDY JUMPED IT!!!
    Member of the COTH Enabler Clique



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 14, 2011
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    racetrack
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkdiamondracing View Post
    As someone who makes her living Ponying....I find that comment about people who pony being incapable of doing anything else a bit offensive...I galloped for years, still do, but its not worth the risk when I make the same money from the back of a horse I know for a FACT is sound.

    Please don't generalize...not every pony person is a talentless hack....some of the horses I take crawl into my saddle, try to put me and my pony through the fence, and in general take 2 hands just to control somewhat.

    There are lots of gallop riders incapable of controlling two horses at one time...it's not all that easy.
    Please see my above post. You took the time to quote it, read through it thoroughly. You missed a very key word. MOST pony people are incapable.

    Trust me, I still pick up an extra for the pony mafia every now and then. You know as well as I do though about those women that just do it to mess with the folks that are trying to make a decent living. I've been beat up ponying just as I have galloping (ring bit to the thigh, OUCH!) but I can tell you that ponying is not nearly as tough as hopping from one fresh racehorse to the next.

    It is not some unattainable job as the mafia would like newcomers to think. In truth it is often a way to get the wife out of the barn. If you pony you know the type. When I began taking races I realized what an overblown job this really was. Even if you get a tough one, heck you only have it for a couple of minutes.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    Baltimore, MD
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    I suggest you wait several months to a year before even thinking about getting on a race horse. You obviously have a severe head injury that has not been treated correctly according to your thread in the disabilities forum. Concussions are cumulative. A second one while still recovering from the first could prove to be fatal.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Aug. 2, 2001
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    Ft Worth, TX, USA
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    3,992

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I suggest you wait several months to a year before even thinking about getting on a race horse. You obviously have a severe head injury that has not been treated correctly according to your thread in the disabilities forum. Concussions are cumulative. A second one while still recovering from the first could prove to be fatal.
    Oh my gosh! I'll 2nd this.

    I was actually getting on here to put my 2 cents worth in about ponying. While I do admire the riders, it's really hard on the ponies. If you value your horse, I wouldn't do it. They get bit, stepped on, kicked, and like one said above, crawled on. I've know a few that have come away with ring bone, and side bone. I'm sure a lot suffer no injuries, but it is a tough life.
    "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George

    What's the status on Tuco?


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Nov. 30, 2009
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    996

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    Holy Crap, I didn't realize that you were the "girl with the headache"!

    I think you need to wait on taking up a new high risk endeavor. Head injuries ARE accumulative, I had a friend who eventually died from complications of multiple head injuries over the course of her lifetime.

    Don't mess around with this. Get checked out by specialists and get to the bottom of your prognosis.

    If I were a trainer on the track, I would not want to take on the risk of some one with unhealed head trauma learning to gallop on my stock.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Oct. 19, 2009
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    1,116

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    Neurologist appointment is next week and I'm not riding period until it's all figured out and settled. I won't get on my own until the is fixed, let alone learn the ropes of a new sport. No worries, just doing research ahead of time.

    Thanks for all the responses; they're very helpful!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Aug. 15, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelico View Post
    Please see my above post. You took the time to quote it, read through it thoroughly. You missed a very key word. MOST pony people are incapable.

    Trust me, I still pick up an extra for the pony mafia every now and then. You know as well as I do though about those women that just do it to mess with the folks that are trying to make a decent living. I've been beat up ponying just as I have galloping (ring bit to the thigh, OUCH!) but I can tell you that ponying is not nearly as tough as hopping from one fresh racehorse to the next.

    It is not some unattainable job as the mafia would like newcomers to think. In truth it is often a way to get the wife out of the barn. If you pony you know the type. When I began taking races I realized what an overblown job this really was. Even if you get a tough one, heck you only have it for a couple of minutes.

    I apologize... I missed the MOST.

    personally, I would love it if I only got a tough one once in a while...I'm the "gunslinger"at my track, meaning every piece of shit that runs here, I take...mainly because I'm the girl that gets it done..also I'm the "old hand" around here...which means I'm the one trainers come to when they've got a bad actor that nobody else can handle...I'm lucky to ride great ponies. They don't have a choice BUT to be great..not being awesome at their job possibly gets us, the racehorse and the jockey hurt... I don't work at a cushy track anymore.. I used to be at Keeneland and Churchill, but got divorced and moved back to my home state of Idaho, which is where the ones that get ruled off at the big tracks end up...I break post parade quite regularly, not by choice, but for survival. I've had to transfer a jockey from my pony's back to the racehorse at a gallop before...that's why I've got a bit of a chip on my shoulder about people thinking Ponying is easy, because anyone is welcome to come take some of the shit I do and after, let me know if they still think it's easy...or fun.
    Last edited by pinkdiamondracing; Feb. 2, 2014 at 02:00 AM. Reason: dyslexic fingers again
    The only difference between a runaway and a fast gallop is nothing but a SMILE
    Most horses cross the Rainbow Bridge, but TEDDY JUMPED IT!!!
    Member of the COTH Enabler Clique



  16. #16
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    You definitely won't find me bashing pony people! Next to the jock, they have the toughest job on the track. There were many horses I couldn't wait to hand over to the pony so I could stop wrestling with them.


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  17. #17
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    Nov. 14, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkdiamondracing View Post
    I apologize... I missed the MOST.

    personally, I would love it if I only got a tough one once in a while...I'm the "gunslinger"at my track, meaning every piece of shit that runs here, I take...mainly because I'm the girl that gets it done..also I'm the "old hand" around here...which means I'm the one trainers come to when they've got a bad actor that nobody else can handle...I'm lucky to ride great ponies. They don't have a choice BUT to be great..not being awesome at their job possibly gets us, the racehorse and the jockey hurt... I don't work at a cushy track anymore.. I used to be at Keeneland and Churchill, but got divorced and moved back to my home state of Idaho, which is where the ones that get ruled off at the big tracks end up...I break post parade quite regularly, not by choice, but for survival. I've had to transfer a jockey from my pony's back to the racehorse at a gallop before...that's why I've got a bit of a chip on my shoulder about people thinking Ponying is easy, because anyone is welcome to come take some of the shit I do and after, let me know if they still think it's easy...or fun.

    Honey, I do it. I know what the job entails. You get a tough one now and then, you deal with it. Sometimes they are tough pullers, sometimes head slingers (had one of those mess my knee up for a long time), sometimes they strike, sometimes they suck back. My personal least favorite is the ring bit wearers that jab my thigh repeatedly. Thank god I only have them a max of thirteen minutes though. I suck it up and deal with it because truthfully, $25 bucks in cash for thirteen minutes of work is pretty damn good.

    Keep that chip on your shoulder, that is exactly why racing is suffering. There are plenty of capable young people out there but you are bound and determined to convince them that only YOU can do it. Sorry if I'm getting in your way, but I don't want to see my sport die and I would love to ride alongside people like the OP, rather than watch a bunch of old crabs limp around and eventually die off.

    I have ponied hundreds of races, been in some pretty tight spots, had some tough horses, but never once have I felt that I had the jockey's life in my hands. There are two of us, and my trusty pony, against once racehorse. The three of us are more than capable, or we wouldn't be out there. Even if one slips up, there are still two other sets of hands/hooves. That jockey doesn't NEED me, and I never forget that. He is a capable rider him/herself.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


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  18. #18
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    Feb. 13, 2007
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    Just to be fair, PDR never said the jocks life was in her hands...but she was there to keep them safe. That is a true statement. I've ridden races, ponied, trained, you name it. I can tell you that without a good competent pony person, there would be a lot of unscheduled works in the afternoon.


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  19. #19
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    Jan. 7, 2005
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    Southern Ohio
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    I'm kind of in the same boat as you....

    I'm a TB snob (can't help it, love them) a (maybe former) event rider who is very much intrigued by the track. I always have been. I would tell people I wanted to be an exercise rider and I would get told its dangerous and I have a death wish. I secretly now kind of want to be a steeplechase jockey but I almost never mention that out loud because then people really think you are crazy.

    I've started working yearling sales and with every sale I'm more and more intrigued with the industry- maybe intrigued enough to put my eventing career on hold to pursue something else but I want to know more about the industry. Also, I just really really really enjoy working the sales.
    (((I'm in southwestern Ohio if anyone knows of anyone who needs help--can do sales at Keenland or fasig-tipton, looking to relocate to Ocala after I sell my ottb)))

    So, just as a thought- try and get in with a consignment company to do some sales. You learn a lot, fast, but its definitely a way to meet a lot of people and start getting some connections while making decent money for a few days. It is such an education.
    -Chelsie
    "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"



  20. #20
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    Jun. 30, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by lily04 View Post
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-...=9781452580913
    Book by former female jockey and very good exercise rider.
    This book was super cheap on Amazon Prime for the Kindle, so I gave it a read. Not a bad book, but not particularly useful in my opinion. It was more "racetrack etiquette" than anything else.

    You can't learn horses from a book and you really can't learn to ride racehorses from a book.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



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