We're off to the races as Horse Racing is returning to Great Falls, so I woke up this morning at sunrise, went down to the track and spoke with people from all across the region who are ready to race.
"We just had races back home in Browning last weekend. Some of the guys brought some horses from here up to Browning, kind of like a schooling getting them ready for this weekend."
One thing they're doing before these races is a process called gating. Now, really big horse, this little gate is pretty claustrophobic for you, so they bring them out here, put them in the chutes to make sure they're going to be comfortable.
"Well, they load them in the gate. They'll kick ‘em away from there, just like the race, maybe by themselves, maybe in company. When they school them, they come up and just stand ‘em…and that gets a fractious horse over being nervous."
Putting a scared horse into the gate is a private event for good reason, but I got to watch a process of toughening a horse's hooves to prevent injuries from rocks on the track. And of course, every horse needs a good bath. It's not just the horses getting ready. The gate crew is ready to start things right.
"Well, these are the starting gates. When you open them and close them…this is your closing…then once they close, then a guy from the back pushes close everything. I stand up there where the poll is. Make sure all of the horses noses are in the V. Once they're all pointing straight, then I push the button to kick them loose."
Most of the trainers didn't want to appear on camera, but they wanted me to convey the message that the race volunteers and the people of Great Falls have been welcoming and hospitable and they hope horse racing will make a permanent return to the city.
So win, place or show, we'll see you out here on race day. For ABC Fox Montana News, I'm Micah Rumsey.