Thursday, March 19, 2009

Connections: Toastmasters Speech #4


My three foals will meet hundreds of people as they pursue a career as race horses. In horse racing we call them connections. I thought I would give you a brief description of the adventure they have ahead of them.

As soon as they are weaned, they start their journey to the races every year acquiring more and more connections.
As a weanling life is pretty simple running and jumping around the quiet lush green pastures of a remote farm. Only two humans and one Veterinarian to worry about.

The Breeder and his farm hand feed them grain and vitamins twice a day and provide water, hay, alfalfa and bedding. The Vet provides immunization shots and advise.

As yearlings, the breeder and his farm hand continue feeding them teaching them manners and horseman’s English. The Vet provides booster shots and advise.

Then it's the Terrible Two's

The breeder sends them to a specialized trainer who breaks them to the saddle. In a round pen they learn proper horse English, manners, to wear a saddle, and a rider. Two more humans come into their life.

Next its time to move to the Training Center. More humans; an owner, a groom, a trainer, an exercise rider, a rookie jockey, a real jockey, a starter at the gate, a ferrier nailing horse shoes onto their feet, a tattoo artist to put their number inside the upper lip, a horse dentist, and then gate guards, groundskeepers and a vet.

Yeah! the Terrific Three's have arrived
The owner sends the almost race horse to a real race track. More humans: the owner, a trainer, a new groom, another ferrier, an exercise rider, a pony and rider, a jockey, a hot walker, a starter at the gate, the clocker, along race track fences humans standing watching with binoculars, and a vet giving shots, and another vet taking blood, and another vet for testing urine.

Finally the big day comes for each foal.

The tractors circle the race track smoothing the surface, an announcer calls all the horses and their grooms to walk to the paddock behind the grandstands to get ready for the race.
A bugler plays Call to the Post and humans appear by the thousands. Familiar humans: the owner and his entire family, the trainer, and the groom wish the horse good luck. Then unfamiliar humans arrive: the tattoo checker, the lead pony with rider, the jockey’s valet and trainer put on a saddle, the jockey, the TV cameraman, the announcer, the humans along the paddock fence, the lead pony with rider, the starting gate and crew, more humans along the fence yelling and screaming, the finish line, the photographer, the stewards, the groom, the test barn, the blood sucking vet, and the urine vet.

And behind the scenes The Humans in Charge of Everything Else. The Jockey Club, the state racing board, the legislators, the track owners, the managers, the kiosk owners and crews, the state licensing clerks, the track clerks, the jockey agents, the chaplain, the horseman’s book keeper and clerks, the program printer, the guards, the tote machine clerks, the tote machine repairman, the groundskeepers, the gardener, the backside managers, their guards and grounds keepers, the TV crews, the announcers, the maintenance crew and the official track veterinarian and the emergency vehicle driver.

My three little foals will meet hundreds of people, and hopefully provide great entertainment for all their connections. Swampy the mother of one of the foals ran 20 races before she changed careers.

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