The Unsung Heros; Hot Walkers
The Unsung Heros; Hot Walkers, by Michael Fenrich: Mornings are a peaceful time of day. Birds begin to chirp, squirrels are running around and the Thoroughbreds that reside at tracks across the country start to rise up for the day so they can run and train. It is very early in the morning when the hot walkers start at 5am as they begin to care for the horses. Hot walkers prepare the baths and they walk the thoroughbreds in the shed row of the barn after the horses finish training. Hot walkers are very important to the training team. There are the horse racing employees who don’t get the limelight like the trainers, jockeys and owners. The employees at the stable who should be recognized as well are the hot walkers.
Humans that care for horses can get attached to these majestic animals and the hot walkers are with them daily as they take care of the horse at the stable and at the races. Over at the racetrack in the afternoon the hot walker is the person carrying the bag with the trainers emblem. After the race is finished the hot walker helps walk the horse. If their horse is one of the top finishers the hot walker assists the groom at the detention barn where the horses are tested. Just like in the morning when the hot walkers helps the thoroughbred begin the day by training the hot walker also helps at the end of the day by placing the horse back in the stall for the night.
Many office workers say it is a long day at the office, well the stable is the office for the hot walkers and they put in a very long day from before sunrise to almost sunset as they help take care of the racehorse. Fans and people who read about or watch horse racing stories always see the trainers, owners and jockeys. Fans and viewers don’t know the important role the individual walking the horse.
The person walking the horses at the races is the groom and the person carrying the bag is the hot walker. The hot walker is like a caddie in golf as they carry the bag and they help the horse succeed in the race like a caddie helps in the success of a golfer in a tournament.
Next time fans are at the races at any track and standing by the paddock watching the horses preparing for the race they should focus on the person carrying the bag, that is the hot walker and they are a big part of the training team and are the unsung heroes of horse racing.
Michael Fenrich is a guest contributor for Lady and The Track and has been featured on publications such as USA Today and Blood-Horse.