When you first getting into horse racing, no one can really prepare you for the roller coast ride of being an owner. So strap yourself in and enjoy the ride!
When I first looked at buying a share in a racehorse, I was under no illusion that it would be smooth sailing. In fact, one of my first questions was, what will happen to my horse after they finish racing? I don’t think I fully understood how high and low the ride would be and I’m very lucky to have never experienced the true lows in racing *touch wood*.
To bring new owners into the industry, they only ever tell you about the highs; the feeling of winning, the joys of following your horse throughout its career and the people you’ll meet. If they advertised the lows no one would join, but then if everywhere advertised the lows we’d all be depressed!
You could say that I’ve had many highs in my short ownership journey, having reached twenty-two wins, including six Saturday winners (including two listed races) and two country cups. This could be down to my good taste, as of the nine horses I’ve self-fund (I’ll dedicate a separate post for my horses that run for charity), three of which are too young to race and one which has only trialled, I’ve only had one horse not become a racehorse, but it could also be that I’m simply a lucky person. The racing industry is full of stories of owners that have never had a country winner, let alone a Saturday winner! So, in this regard, I consider myself very lucky, as it wouldn’t be called gambling if luck wasn’t involved.
You never heard about an owner’s low, but they happen just as often as the highs and they can often happen within moments of each other. I’ve had a horse in a big country race on the weekend, talked to the trainer on Wednesday who said we were good to go and then not only scratched but retired the next day. I’ve had a race where it didn’t matter where we finished because all options would be a positive to then retiring straight after the race and I’ve been planning an outfit on Monday for a big race on Saturday that had been targeted for weeks to find out on Tuesday that we won’t be nominated.
You can probably see a common theme above, that the lowest low that I’ve experienced is when the choice has been made to retire one of my horses. You see all of the videos online of my tears when I win, but you don’t see the tears that are shed when that choice is made. Maybe it’s because I wear my heart on my sleeve (whether this is a positive is yet to be known :P) or maybe it’s because each of my horses are like my children, but either way I wouldn’t change it, because the day I only care about winning is the day I should step away from racing. I don’t know how the trainers, strappers and staff feel because they’re the ones that see the horse every day to not seeing them at all, I only see my horse when they’re at the races and the very rare stable visits. I dread the thought of something happening to my horse on the track and I pray that I’ll never have to experience that because I’m unsure how I’ll cope.
However, I truly believe the saying that you have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs! If you won every race would you really appreciate it? The highs 100% outweigh the lows too, if they didn’t owners wouldn’t keep buying more horses and racing wouldn’t be as addictive as it is (haha well I’m addicted anyway!). Highs don’t just include that adrenaline rush when your horse finished first, they include that feeling when you’re celebrating with fellows owners leading the horse back in, smiling and hugging each other because it’s a massive achievement. It’s that feeling when the weanlings/yearling you picked out in the paddock trials for the first time and you feel like a proud parent. It’s that feeling when the people you see at the races are no longer just people you see, but true friends.
So this post is not to discourage anyone from going to the races or stop you from buying a share in a horse (in fact I highly encourage it), but it’s to remind you to appreciate the highs in life and that even though social media often only shows the highs, there are lows too. If you own a horse though, you’ve brought a ticket to the greatest roller coast ride there is!