Pulling up to the entrance of my cousin's horse farm, I could instantly feel the stress melt away. Horseshoe Hill Farm, located in Ashland, Virginia, is a large farm dedicated to the training of racing horses, and it has always been one of my favorite places in the world.
The farm itself is located a short driving distance from Washington D.C., and I was able to stay there for two weeks in July, while on my way to New York City. Let me tell you, the entire two weeks were filled with equal parts rest and relaxation, and exciting adventures.
With sprawling Virginia hills and a large river for kayaking and fishing nearby, I had plenty to keep me occupied. Even better, the farm usually houses up to forty horses in the peak racing season, so it is a horse-lovers paradise.
Most days, I would finish my work in the morning and then walk through the fields to visit the horses. I had been a bundle of nerves before arriving there, nervous about dealing with all of my upcoming travel. But it is incredibly difficult to be filled with nerves in such a peaceful place.
My cousin, who has been training and racing horses all her life, was patient with me while I asked her question after question. Do the horses love the same way that dogs do? Is there still a lot of corruption in the racing industry like there used to be? She gave me an inside look into her world and answered every question thoughtfully.
Fortunately, I had come to the farm at just the right time. The racing season had just begun, and most of the tracks hadn't been open for over a year due to Covid restrictions. Towards the end of my visit, I was able to attend the opening day of the Colonial Downs Track with my cousin and her husband.
While at the track, I learned how to read the stats on each horse, and how to bet on them. Because my cousin had been responsible for training a few of the horses racing that day, I also got to see parts of the races that others do not.
I was able to eat lunch upstairs where the owners sit. I was allowed to go inside the paddock where the horses are paraded before each race. And I was allowed to go behind the track where the horses and jockeys go after each race.
I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family. I will never forget the two weeks that I spent with my cousins at their farm in Virginia. It was a time of peace, reflection, and a great chance to learn more about an industry of which I knew little.
Not to mention that I won over $200 while betting at the track. Okay, I also lost a little, too. But who is counting when you're having so much fun?!
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