I’ve often thought how much fun it would be to be able to drive a sulkey and partake in harness racing as a driver.
A friend I met while studying in Ireland used to work on a Standardbred farm and said that they bred and trained the horses on the farm. Consequently she got to learn to drive and focused on breeding and this form of racing. Being Standardbreds, they also used AI for breeding their horses and so she also learnt about and carried out the practice of Artificial Insemination.
Not legal on a Thoroughbred stud, I’m still toying with the idea of spending a season on a Standardbred stud just to be able to learn about these two different areas when it comes to horses.
Some facts I’ve found with regards to drivers in Australia:
– they are paid a fee for driving and generally 5% of the stakes money that is earnt
– you’ll want to look at working in a harness stable for at least six months to become a driver
– at this stage you’re able to drive pacing horses in track work and then apply for a C grade license which permits you to drive in trials
– a B grade license allows driving in country races and you’re assessed by stewards for this once you’ve built up enough skill/practice
Some drivers are self employed and this is all that they do but the majority train and drive or do so on a part time basis and have a second job to keep the income coming in.
If you’re interest lies in this area, try to seek out possible employment at a stable or training complex so you can get to know the industry and possibly get yourself in a position of being able to have a go in a sulkey.
Take a look at the Racing and Wagering Western Australia .pdf file on Careers in the Racing Industry:
“It excites me that no matter how much machinery replaces the horse, the work it can do is still measured in horsepower…..even in this space age. And although a riding horse often weighs half a ton, and a big drafter a full ton, either can be led about by a piece of string if he has been wisely trained. This to me is a constant source of wonder, and challenge.” – Marguerite Henry