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…just usually not so much on themselves.
While Greg spent the majority of his time feeding and mucking Tiffany got to “train” the horses.
At this point we should point out that Tiffany has a tendency to…smack things (Aside from Greg, that is). We’re not saying that Greg has ever been approached by a pastor at church but he has had to field a few worried glances from time to time from fellow parishioners. It came with the territory when he decided to marry a woman who gets her kicks zip lining over tropical rainforests and sailing through gale-force winds. As Tiffany puts it, “I don’t bruise easy. I just hit things hard.”
Now we’ve already gone over how these horses are half-ton hyperactive 2 year-olds that are fed nothing but sugar all day, every day, right? You put them together with Tiffany on a daily basis and well…
It keeps it interesting
The day typically varied randomly between leading the horses around to their assorted exercises and containing the horses’ assorted freak out sessions. Neither of which are as easy as they sound.
Greg would like to point out he also suffered causalities in the line of duty…
The impression that we would be working with horses was incorrect: Farms and normal stables have horses. While we were at the racing stable we were working at a factory that produced animal athletes. This was probably one of the most interesting things about working with the horse racing industry: we parted the veil and saw behind the showmanship to what really goes on when the TV cameras turn off and the customers go home. Trainers did not have a relationship with the animals aside from getting them to do what they needed to in order to get a return on the owner’s investment and a pay check for themselves. This mentality is not callous, it’s simply business. Considering over $421 million dollars in prize money was paid out in 2009 alone for horse races, there is a lot of money to be lost or made.
The horses were not there to have “fun” and they most certainly were in no way “pets.” With one head trainer and about 70 horses in the stables at once, time was precious and every minute of every day was planned to maximize both the horses’ development and the use of training equipment. People invested a lot of money in obtaining and developing these animals (Just to buy, a single racehorse can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, more than that for a champion. This does not include the hundreds to thousands of dollars a month that paid for the horses stall, board and training. ). It was our job to prosecute the training our customers bought in order to make all that money show a return.
It should be noted that not once did we get to actually ride the horses. Only the jockeys and the training jockeys got to actually get in the saddle.
The idea of a factory is probably the most accurate: take a horse with desired characteristics, introduce certain pre-planned stimuli, follow a specific training pattern and feed them an exact diet over a period of time, get a specific result: the horse runs faster. We imagine that elite athletes are trained in a similar manner: everything is intentional and planned; it is a completely detached, scientific process. Only difference is that with Olympians and NBA stars, you can’t always control every action they take every day or every morsel of sustenance they consume. Silly human rights get in the way. With horses though, complete control is remarkably possible.
Every now and then though the fact that we were dealing with, for all their athletic prowess and training regimen, young children would sneak through for a few minutes. While we won’t say it made it all worth it; we will say it provided us with amusement and reminded us that we were working with very big, sometimes persnickity, two year olds.
That cat in the video is not the first one we’ve come across that runs the show. At least this one didn’t steal Greg’s diet coke!
Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures. If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, 3-day delays for wine tastings, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at www.CoastGuardCouple.com!