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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Blast from the past: Featuring Cathy Gearwar

Article originally written in 2018




 It Is Never Too Late To Get In The Game 


It’s never too late to pursue your passion even if it means getting aboard a trotter that races full speed. At the age of 48, Cathy Gearwar is proof age is just a number when you have a goal and set your mind to it. 


Fitness is a requirement to race under saddle because the unique sport takes a lot of balance and stamina to stay on a trotter racing a full mile. However, there is no age limit and Gearwar is proving she is up for the task as she has thus far had a successful season. The Benson Vermont resident has been able to win a qualifier and her first race; both held at Goshen Historical Track. She is also competing in the RUS New York 2018 Fair Series where she took a second at Afton Fair. 


Her journey with horses all began 30 years ago when she was 18 when she had a job cleaning stalls at a combination standardbred and dairy farm in New Hampshire. She had ridden in several different disciplines growing up. Gearwar participated in events such as hunt seat, dressage, jumping and trail, but the farm was where she was first introduced to harness racing. It is also where she met her future husband, Pete.


Twenty some years later Gearwar saw her first racing under saddle race. 


“I thought, I could do that,” she said.  


However, the decision to pursue the sport did not come until the fall of 2016, after her children were grown and college loans were paid. 


That fall she took the written test and had an uncle offer his horse to test the on the following year. 


“Famous Oscar was 16 and really wasn’t sure he liked racing with a rider, but he was a trooper and we got the job done,” she said. “He wasn’t available to race under saddle after the testing was finished, so I didn’t ride a race horse again in 2017.”


During the winter of 2018 Gearwar said she started her journey into the sport by getting several sponsors for RUS NY.  Then she began her hunt for a horse. 

“I had a couple of people helping me search, and I finally found a 5-year-old gelding named Armbro Hall in the beginning of May. He hadn’t been ridden as far as we knew, but I had faith and took a chance that he would take to RUS,” she said. 


According to Gearwar, the goal was to find a horse, get it qualified and race it in the fair series. 


“We have a 3-year-old pacing filly we race in the Sire Stakes fair series, so it would be perfect to take the two, one for Pete to race and one for me,” she said. Armbo exceeded my expectations by easily qualifying in RUS by himself and then going on to win our first qualifying matinee and then our first money race. We entered him once at Saratoga in harness during all this and he looks like he will do just fine switching back and forth between the two types of racing.”


The Gearwars almost passed up Armbro Hall. 


“We were told maybe his leg had some issues and therefore he may not be fit to ride,” Gearwar explained. 


The decision to purchase the horse was made after a respected trainer that had a little experience with the horse said, “Nonsense, there is nothing wrong with his legs.,” she added. 


Armbro’s leg was given some TLC it needed and according to Gearwar, they have not had any problems with it.


“I thank God regularly for the horse he sent me and that I am fit and strong enough to take on such a physically demanding sport at my age,” said Gearwar. “Going behind the gate is exhilarating and racing is invigorating and exhausting at the same time.  I am only three races into my new hobby, but hope to get in at least a couple of years and, God willing, a few more after that.”


RUS New York a small organization trying to get a lot accomplished. The group needs every person who has passion for the sport to succeed to be involved for it to continue to grow. No matter how little one can contribute involvement is encouraged. Members do not have to live in New York and can be anybody who wants to see the sport flourish. Anybody interested in membership should email rusnewyorkseries@gmail.com.


For more information on racing under saddle and RUS New York visit,
rus-newyork.com


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Blast from the past: Featuring Ashley Eldred and Ehi

 Written by Ashley Eldred in 2014

From racehorse to RUS horse to show pony, Ehi Guaglione (“Ehi”) is no doubt the ideal versatile standardbred. 

“Ehi” comes from the Nigerian name for “Angel” and “Guaglione” comes from the Neapolitan name for “Boy” so his name stands for “Angel Boy” and I couldn’t agree more! Ehi is a 10 year old pacing gelding, with a lifetime mark of 1:52.4. He has this personality that I just love. He plays a mean character on the outside, showing his teeth and pinning his ears, but he would never harm anyone and is filled with love on the inside. 

Before he was first sold, RUS was new in the United States and I didn’t have a trotter capable of doing RUS. So while I was in search of a trotter to use, I practiced on Ehi. 

Although they don’t allow pacers to race under saddle yet, it was good practice for me. He doesn’t pull, make breaks, or do anything bad so he was a safe horse. It got me use to riding at the speed of racing and also use to the motions and building the strength and stamina it take to race under saddle. 

It turns out he loved doing it. So for the remainder of the time we had him, instead of jogging/training every day in harness, he did so in the saddle. Not only did he like this, but he actually raced better too!

I refer to Ehi as my four-legged child. I discipline him, reward him, and love him like a mother does a child. He tolerates a lot from me too. Even though he is a male, I dress him up with ribbons, bows, sparkles, anything! In between the racing, riding, and dress up, we will be going to our first standardbred horse show together next week. I am looking forward to it as I know he will do great. He loves the attention and the camera too. We take a lot of selfies!


The story of Ehi, a family pet for a number of years, starts with when he was sold in the fall of 2012. The decision was made to sell him when money was tight and he was racing good so he was worth a decent price. He went to a friend, who was stabled at Afton fairgrounds, and raced Ehi at Monticello where he did fairly well. I was able to travel to Afton a couple times to visit and ride Ehi which was nice. The new owner decided he didn’t want Ehi anymore and sold him. 


He ended up going to a trainer who was stabled in the barn we share in the spring of 2013. I walked in the barn one morning and my mom said to me, “Go look in that stall and tell me what horse it is.” So I did. I was ecstatic to see Ehi; the feeling was mutual, his ears perked up and he came to the front of the stall so I could pet him and give him a big hug. I introduced myself to the trainer and told him how Ehi used to be my horse. He proceeded to tell me how the horse was always miserable, stood in the back of the stall, and they didn’t get along. So he let me help take care of the horse for the few months he had him, before the owner decided to sell him in the late summer of 2013.


Ehi went from a few different tracks and trainers with his new owner, but he wasn’t racing well. I followed his movements through USTA and would anxiously wait to watch him race every week. By now, I was very sad, thinking I was never going to get him back. I saw the owner sent him to New Jersey to a trainer whom I know and am friends with. He still wasn’t racing well, so I called the trainer to find out if they were willing to sell Ehi. She informed me that the owner had decided to send the horse to the Amish the previous day. I was devastated and thought there was no chance of me ever getting him back now. The trainer told me to give the Amish man a call and ask about the horse, so I did, but the bad news kept coming. 


The amish man told me he had already sold him to another fellow of the Amish community, and told me he would call him to see if he still has him. I figured there was no hope, and dreaded to think of where he might end up. The next day, I received a call from a random Pennsylvania number so I decided to answer it and I am glad I did. It was the man that bought Ehi, and he still had him! I sighed with relief and told the man I would do anything to get my horse back so, we made a deal, and made arrangements for him to be shipped to NY. Throughout all of this I was in Florida for the winter, so you can only imagine how hard it was to make this all possible. Ehi was shipped to my sister’s house in NY until I came home from Florida in April to see him.


Ehi had been on vacation from racing since October, so when I retuned from Florida in April, I started jogging him to get him back in shape to be able to race. Every Sunday I went for a long casual horseback ride on Ehi through the stables of Vernon Downs. He loves being ridden and I like to keep him happy. Day by day, Ehi got stronger and faster and by May, he was ready to qualify. He qualified in 1:58.4 finishing fourth, but he still wasn’t ready to race. He qualified again a week later in 1:57.1 finishing third. He’s raced in two overnight races at Vernon Downs since; the first one finishing 8th in 1:56.2 and the second one finishing 7th in 1:58.3. He started coughing and was very sick after the second race, so for he was scratched from his third race. 


I brought him home to the farm so he could get better and run around in the field, which he loves. It took him about two weeks to overcome his illness. Last week he made an appearance at Afton fair for the Free-For-All Pace. He had the seven hole which meant he started in the second tier, three wide across the track. He got away last and just before the finish line he started passing horses. I was so nervous that I could barely watch. They crossed the finish line and I hear, “Ehi Guaglione third…” I was so proud of him for coming from last place and passing all those horses.


His most recent race on July 14th at Waterloo Fair, a three horse race, consisted of another pacer and a trotter. Yet again, I was so nervous, and I could only see parts of the racetrack. All I kept hearing was “Ehi Guaglione in front by ‘x’ number of lengths.” By the time the announcer said, “..and the winner is Ehi Guaglione..” I was already on my way to the winners circle with tears of joy in my eyes! I was so proud of him and myself because we got there together. We are both looking forward to our following races at Morris and Norwich fairgrounds.


Together we plan on continuing racing throughout the season. I have plans to travel to Florida for the winter again, so of course,  this time Ehi will come with me. It’s a long ways from now, so nothing is certain, but we may or may not race throughout the winter as well. After Ehi’s racing career, I plan to continue showing him and taking him trail riding. I would love to see RUS expand to pacers under saddle, because I know he would love to participate in that as well. Either way, he will always have a home with me for life. Not only do I love him unconditionally, but he has given me so much that I couldn’t possibly get rid of him. I think I owe him a happy retirement!



Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Blast from the past: Article featuring Therese Lindgren

RUS Helps Make Dream Come True in a Way

Article written in 2014 by MICHELLE MILLER 

Therese is a native of Sweden and is having a great RUS year – most recently winning the Red Mile race in Kentucky aboard In Nomine Patri. Also this year, she won an elimination race of the Hambo series at the Big M and placed second in the final. This blog was written by Michelle Miller using notes provided by Therese Lindgren.  


Featured Rider: Therese Lindgren  


Horses have always been a big part of Therese Lindgren’s life. As a kid, she dreamt of one day becoming a jockey.


“My mom told me I was going to be too tall, so I put my energy into being a harness racing driver,” she said.


The 32-year-old grew up in Sweden where she started driving in pony races at the age of 8. She said she got her first pony 14 days before she was born and could basically ride before she could walk. Lindgren won a Swedish RUS championship for ponies in 1993.


“I use to be in smaller jumping competition as a kid, but it wasn’t my thing,” said Lindgren who started to ride for a private trainer in dressage when she was 10 years old.

At age 16, Lindgren started working for a big stable in Sweden. And at age 18, she got her harness horse drivers license. Lindgren said she had a “really nice” year when she was 21.


“I was driving in big races in Sweden, Denmark and even got invited to a big race in Italy where I was third in the elimination and finished fourth in the final,” she said.

After that year, Lindgren took a year off from all things horses to catch up on school. However, she was right back working with them in no time.


“I started up my own stable and did okay,” she said. “I rode a few races over their but not really with any success.”


According to Lendgren, she got sick of everything in Sweden and sold everything and moved to New Jersey. She moved in 2009 and has been living  there ever since.


In 2011 Lindgren did something that could have kept her from racing – she broke her back. She said she had two discs that were laying on her sciatic nerved so there was only 10 percent left of it. Lindgren had back surgery and thought she may never walk again.

It was a RUS event that gave her the determination to not only walk again, but race again. Lindbgren set her sights on participating in the racing under saddle race set at the 


Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day and she had nine months to prepare.


“I felt in my whole body that I wanted to be in it,” she said. “With a lot of hard work and a  mind of steel I laid all my energy into it.”


Lindgren rode Take My Picture to a second place finish, but said for her it felt like a win. 

She said she was able to ride for a great horse owner who believed in her.


Last year Lindgren only rode in one RUS race. She said it was for her good friend Michelle Crawford, also a RUS rider and a native of Sweden. The venue was Saratoga Raceway where she rode Vassar Hall to a 2:07 victory.


Lindgren is having a very successful RUS  season this year. Aboard Take My Picture she  won an elimination of the Hambletonian RUS series at the Meadowlands and placed second in the final. Ironically, her good friend Michelle beat her on A Penny Earned in a time of 1:57.2.


Most recently, Lindgren raced to victory aboard In Nomine Patri in a RUS race held on October 5 at the Red Mile in Kentucky. Lindgren said she qualified the horse for two good friends of hers a week before the race.


“Lisa (Vatanen) who owns and trains him asked me if I wanted to ride him in Lexington and my answer was of course yes,” Lindgren said.

According to Lindgren, Lisa told her In Nomine Patri is a nice horse to ride but can be a little aggressive so her plan was to “take him back and race from behind and give him cover.”


“I didn’t want to go first up,” she said. “Everything worked out perfect, and on the stretch he flew home with a 27.2 last quarter.”


“It was like flying with the wind,” added Lindgren.


The win was bitter sweet for her however. Her mother had passed away three weeks before the big race and Lindgren wanted to honor her memory. According to Lindgren, the horse’s owners, Lisa and Joe Hanney, and her mother had been through a lot together so the win was felt magical.


While Lindgren has had several horses in her life, she says she has a special bond with Take My Picture.


“I used to work for his trainer Nik Drennan, so I have been taking care of him for years.” Lindgren said. “I know him very well and think I have him figured out pretty well.”

The RUS rider said she often advises Take My Picture’s driver how to drive him in harness races.


The bay gelding is a great horse to ride, but according to Lindgren he does have a few quirks.


“He doesn’t like to be on the track so he only goes on the machine or leads behind a horse,” she said, adding she also rides him once in a while on the farm.


Lindgren said Take My Picture is very special and has a mind of his own. For example, she said the horse likes to run off the track during warmups and does not like to turn to the starting gate. Even so, Lindgren said she is honored that the trainer and owners let her ride the open trotter.


The horse enthusiast currently works for White Birch Farm – a 800 acre standardbred breeding farm and renowned training center in Allentown, Monmouth County, New Jersey. She takes care of a horse she owns half of and helps others out at the farm as needed. As far as future goals, Lindgren said she plans on buying a baby and another race horse sometime this year to “see what happens.”


When it comes to RUS, Lindgren said she could not do it without Anthony “Tony” Robbin’s life coaching techniques.


“I am a huge fan and have attended two seminars with him. It changed my life,” she said.

It’s all about psychology and energy that one absorbs, according to Lindgren. The rider said she used to get very nervous for a race and almost freak out. She also claims she felt bad after racing with headaches and no energy in her body.


Lindgren admits she still gets butterflies in her stomach before a race, but said she is now more focused and knows how to better handle her feelings.


“My body now feels great after,” she noted.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Afton Fair RUS Conditions Announced, Entries Due July 3

This race's winner circle leadline presentation is sponsored by 
T&K Harrington LLC.


Afton Fair RUS Conditions 


Entries will be taken by RUS New York via email or text and must be submitted by 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 3. Email: rusnewyorkseries@gmail.com text: (607) 643-8047. You will get a confirmation email or text back. You can also call the number if you do not have email or text.


Purse: No less than $800 to be distributed evenly. Winner will also get halter and leadline. 


Anybody entering the fairgrounds must pass a temperature check and sign a Covid release. 


Horses must have rabies and coggins and be checked in with secretary no later than 15 minutes before the noon time post no matter when the race is scheduled. Rider waiver, W-9(s) and purse authorization must be turned in the day of the race NO EXCEPTIONS! Nobody should get on a horse until paperwork is handed in. 


No entry fee 


Riders and horses do not need to be qualified as this is being held as an exhibition race.  Please be responsible and ride and practice as much as possible before the race to make for safe racing. Entries can be denied at the discretion of the race secretary or RUS NY Committee. 


Riders must wear helmet, safety vest, colors and proper boots at all times while on a horse. 


Horse Eligibility Requirements
All horses participating in RUS events must be registered with either the United States Trotting Association or Standardbred Canada in the name of the current owner. No horse under the age of three shall be eligible to start, however horses older than 14 will be permitted.
Horses that plan on racing under saddle must have RUS electronic eligibilities activated prior to entering for any RUS event. This is in addition to the eligibility they hold for regular harness events.Pacers and trotters will race together 


Required Equipment
(a)  Bridle with bit and overcheck.
(b)  Rubber racing, Ladder reins or Double “French” reins.
(c)  Crupper.
(d)  English, monte, or jockey saddle. Overgirth on saddle with only one billet.
(e)  Breast collar or buxton.
(f)  Appropriate saddle pad.
(g)  Head numbers, head poles, line poles and two-ring martingales are prohibited.  Line burrs are now allowed 
(h)  Securing the rider to the saddle and/or the legs or feet of the rider in the stirrups, including but not limited to tying the stirrups to the girth, banding the feet in the stirrups is prohibited. 
*** hobbles are allowed 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

RUS NY Won’t Be Hosting Fair Series, But Has One Fair On Board To Race


It is with heavy hearts that we announce the RUS NY Fair Series is cancelled for 2020.  However, we are happy to announce at least one fair will be hosting a race and conditions are set. 

“The shutdowns due to the virus have caused countless disappointing consequences, and that is an understatement,” said the organization’s president Cathy Gearwar. 

She said members of the RUS New York Management Committee have decided to take this year and focus on fundraising to make sure a complete series can happen in 2021. The management committee will help to plan races if venues are still interested in having races on an individual basis but cannot guarantee rider and horse availability. 

“The plan for this year is to only hold races being funded by the host track and save our funds for next year so we can have a series and satisfy our commitments to our sponsors,” explained Gearwar, who is also the group’s sponsorship director. 

“Fundraising and sponsorships are more important than ever because once racing is back the funds need to be there to continue and we cannot rely on getting the New York Sire Stakes grant funds that we normally receive,” she continued. “We thank everyone who has supported us and appreciate your patience and understanding through this all.” 

Sponsors who have already supported the group are posted on the RUS NY website, rus-newyork.com, with most having links to their website or Facebook pages. For more information on sponsorship opportunities please visit: http://rus-newyork.com/become-a-sponsor/

“We really need to use this year to rebuild and try to get new blood interested in the sport,” Gearwar said. “We cannot give up and look at it as a total wash out year. We would love to network and help out anyone who would be interested in getting licensed and try it out.” 

On a more positive note, RUS NY has been able to work with race secretaries at Afton Fair to still be able to put on a race on Thursday, July 9.  It will be held as an exhibition race. The conditions can be found at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tRlxBoekNgcDqz9_qE_4ZN8zyN86jx4BlSFHz_4Sw7A/edit?usp=sharing

The group is holding a raffle to help raise funds for the 2021 season. Winners will be drawn in October via Facebook Live. Date and time TBA at a later date and the video will be left on the RUS New York Series Facebook page for all to be able to view. All prizes are good through 2021. Names will be drawn for the amount of prizes offered. Once the drawing is done the president will call each individual to choose one of the prizes. Then the next person will be called and so on. Tickets can be purchased from riders or online at https://rafflecreator.com/pages/37801/rus-ny-fundraising-raffle?fbclid=IwAR2oEiTlkMi8cwSwBms4mgTHNNoel0lK0EGKj3ydwGm3k3HGnb4hTLsgWqg


Friday, April 10, 2020

Plans For Uncertainties Announced

RUS New York is facing the same unknowns as the rest of the world because of forced cancelations caused by the Coronavirus.  At this time, there is no way to know if there will be a racing season or not. There is a lot still up in the air, as some things have been put on hold. 
Will there be fairs? If not, will the racing season still go on? Will some of the season be canceled instead of all of it? 
The future of the 2020 RUS NY Fair Series largely depends on the existence of county fair harness racing and grant money provided by the organizations’s flagship sponsor, the New York Sire Stakes and Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. 
“We are considering all options for saving the season or some part of it, but also considering what to do if canceled,” said Kelly Young Executive Director of the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. 
She said there are still plans to review the RUS NY grant needed to host the series, but at a later date. For now, grants and the publication of the fair book is on hold, according to Young. She said, “Because we are the epicenter, all these decisions may be made for us.”
“If the grant does not get approved, there will be no racing series,” RUS NY Marketing Director and Treasurer Michelle Miller said.  "A couple of individual races at fairs that do open may be possible in this event, determined on a case by case basis.”
According to Miller, the most important thing right now is to make sure RUS NY sponsors know they will be taken care of no matter what happens. 
Committee members held a meeting in early April to form a plan. If the season is canceled all sponsorships will be transferred to the following season. Sponsorships get added to the RUS NY website as the group receives funds so sponsors will actually be advertised longer if this is the case, she explained. If only some races are cut, sponsors will be included in that many races in 2021. Winner circle leadline sponsors will be transferred to the following season or possibly be allowed to switch to available races not spoken for if available.   
Questions about sponsorship for this year can be sent to Director of Sponsorships Cathy Gearwar at fourgears@shoreham.net or through the Facebook page, RUS NY Series. 
“We will take care of our sponsors,” Gearwar said. “They are essential to our existence.”
Sponsors can be found at http://rus-newyork.com/sponsorship-fundraising/our-2020-sponsors/. Most logos are linked to the sponsor’s direct website or Facebook page. Please show your support! 

RUS NY is also looking for items for an online raffle, keeping in mind the drawing will be done in the fall. Items should be easily mailable and good through 2021. The deadline is May 31. Contact Gearwar for more information. 


BECOMING A SPONSOR: 


For as little as $200, sponsors will be put in all forms of promotion that we do for the season. This includes being featured in all fair race programs (generally parimutuals will include a page of our sponsors as well) and much more. The earlier one gets on board, the more exposure one will receive.

What you get for your buck:

Just for donating you will be provided advertisement on our website. 
For just $200 or more you will get a mention in all promotions such as race programs. (200 copies are printed for each fair) 
For $500 or more you will be provided everything above as well as a feature spot on our homepage and inclusion on a bucket to be used as a prize throughout the season. 
We will link your website or Facebook page to any ad on our website if provided
There will be limited opportunity to become a sponsor for a winner’s circle presentation. This offering will be done on a first-come, first-served basis. Sponsors will have their info printed on a lead line to be handed out after each race. A group photo is taken with the lead line being presented and an announcement is made on the sponsor’s behalf. Please visit
www.rus-newyork.com for more information. 
It is not always feasible to donate money and RUS NY more than happily accepts product donations that can be used for prizes or fundraising purposes. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

RUS NY Meeting to Focus on Uncertainties Being Caused By Coronavirus

Like so many others, committee members of RUS New York are preparing and navigating through this uncertain time created by Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

While many things are being canceled, some being rescheduled out as far as September, the reality is we cannot be sure our racing season will be held as planned. For now, everyone in the state is being told to stay home unless it is for “essential” reasons and the reality is this probably is not going away anytime soon even if the president loosens up restrictions. New York is being hit hard. 

We will be holding a meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 5 via Facebook video chat to discuss these uncertainties and plans moving forward. If there is anyone that would like to get involved and is not on the video chat group already please contact RUS NY President Cathy Gearwar at fourgears@shoreham.net or call (802) 537-2145. She may also be able to arrange alternate ways of being involved if Facebook is not an option. 


It may seem like the least important time to get involved, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We will need the support and commitment to the group more now than ever. Please get involved and we appreciate any support during these times. We thank all our fans and supporters and hope you and your families are staying safe. We hope to see you out at our events sooner rather than later!