Thursday, June 19, 2014

Girl Scouts at the Horse Races

I'm pretty bad about making Matt take the kids by himself to Girl Scout events that I don't want to attend (that Girl Scout camp-out at Victory Field looked SUPER fun... for the children), and signing us all up for the events that I DO want to attend. So although Matt has taken various numbers of related and unrelated Girl Scouts to tea parties at a retirement home, movies at the university, service projects, camp-outs, geography fairs, sports and music workshops, etc., while I stayed at home and actively did not attend those tea parties and movies and workshops and camp-outs, we all went to the latest Girl Scout field trip to Hoosier Park.

Because I've been to retirement homes and movies and baseball games before, but I have NEVER been to the horse races!
Willow tries on the colors.
You're right by the track!
It was all harness racing this particular evening.
If there's not a craft project, it's probably not a Girl Scout event!
 The biggest perk of attending the races as a Girl Scout (along with the souvenir T-shirt and fun patch for the backs of the kids' vests) was getting to go on a barn tour. We visited a barn where some harness racers who weren't racing that evening were stabled:

Syd asked a trainer what was on this horse's legs, and she explained that sometimes a horse's legs get sore after a race, so they put liniment on them and wrap them, but sometimes they have to cover the wrappings with duct tape if the horses try to chew them.
My only prior experience with racehorses was seeing the thoroughbreds at Kentucky Horse Park, and they are VERY aggressive, so once I saw how accessible all these horses were, I reminded the kids to watch their ears and mind their mouths. Harness racehorses are mares and fillies, however, and most of them were about the sweetest horses we've ever met:

Way to mind her mouth, Syd!

Of course, every barn has its feisty horses. I love Will's face in this next photo--I was clicking the shutter as the horse started to nuzzle her, but caught her reaction just after it decided it would maybe rather eat her hair instead:

See Syd laughing? She was the only one who could see it and she wasn't telling anyone, but that dang horse is STILL eating Will's hair!

The kids and I were really only there to sightsee--

--but of course people bet on these races, and there were some spectators who were VERY invested in each race's outcome:

Matt, now... Matt enjoys gambling. I do NOT think that gambling is fun, because I do not think that we have enough money to fool around with giving it away, but I did point out to him a notice in the brochure that stated that if you donated $5 to the Girl Scouts while you were there, they'd give you that five bucks in casino cash or whatever. If you're going to give your money away by gambling, you might as well give it to the Girl Scouts rather than the casino. Matt hated all the actual casino stuff when he went in there, because it was all automated and therefore didn't work right (and do you even want to guess about how long I had to listen to *that* rant on the way home? Not that long, actually, because I fell asleep pretty much as soon as we hit the highway, but still...), but he also got a couple of vouchers to bet on the horses, AND during the barn tour he heard some kid who was also on the tour going on and on about the racehorse that his family owns, AND that racehorse was actually racing that night, so Matt placed a bet on that kid's horse--

--and she won!

I had been a little concerned about this trip beforehand--I was worried it would be seedy (it was, a little, but nothing that we're not used to) and that the kids would see a horse get shot in the head (no on-track euthanizations on this night, yay!)--but it turned out to actually be a really terrific adventure. A couple of times I got chatted up by race regulars who were pleased to see so many kids at the track and wanted to reminisce about their own childhood memories of going to the races with their parents, and all the workers seemed happy to go out of their way to make the sport accessible to the bunch of random kids running around. After one race, which the kids and I watched from right by the finish line, Syd was bummed because the horse that she was rooting for didn't win, and she said, "Why didn't #6 win? She was running so fast!"

The track's photographer happened to be walking by, on his way to photograph a horse that was NOT #6 in the Winner's Circle, but he stopped, came back to Syd, and explained to her, "Number Six didn't win because she started out too fast, and she couldn't keep it up. You've got to root for the horse that comes second or third or even fourth out of the gate, not first."

In the next two races, Syd indeed rooted for a horse that was not first out of the gate, and indeed, in both of those races, that horse that she rooted for won! 

Definitely educational, then, but I'm not sure what subject to call it. PE? Game theory? 


Tina said...


That looks like fun. Emma thinks I should add an exclamation mark to that sentence.

I love the picture of Syd snuggled up to that one mare :0)

julie said...

I know nothing about the ethics of the horse racing industry--and it would probably ruin my fun if I did--but it was certainly a good field trip!

We're actually close enough to Churchill Downs to make a weekend trip of it. Must do some research now...


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