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Fenton MacKay

The greatest thing that happened to me in my lifetime was when I was twelve years old, back doing the hay, and my grandfather told me, “Get up on the load and drive the team home.” When I drove that team home, I thought I owned the world.

Cars meant nothing, nothing meant nothing, that’s all I knew was horses. I started working at the racehorses when I was fourteen, in 1948. I’ve been at it ever since, and that’s sixty-one years.  I grew up on the Island here. I was down there with my grandfather farming with the horses, and that’s how I got in with the horses, eh?

The only luck you could have at horse racing is that the horse that you got, or bought, or reared from a foal, it’s got speed enough that can bring the track up. That’s the only luck you can have. If it ain’t there, you ain’t got it. You can’t make what’s not gonna happen. And if you force the issue, you’re gonna cause a problem.

They gotta do away with the whips, it’s too cruel. I designed whips, had them put on the market to prevent cruelty, but the horsemen didn’t want it. It was a whip where they couldn’t whip them around the shaft, or beat them around the stifle, in behind their hind legs, or around the belly. I made shorter ones, built like a riding crop the thoroughbred people use, only longer, so the horses couldn’t be struck like that. It worked, but they didn’t want that, they wanted to still beat them to death. It’s not right. I seen horses come in off the track, blood running around their belly, blood running down the inside of their legs. I seen horses where they put leather on the end of their whip, and wire to beat them.

I was the first to ever hitch a horse to steel in 1974, with my universal hitch. I designed it for safety and also to hook up a horse a lot easier than the way it was, eh? If a horse went down, you just pulled two pins and the horse was free. I was a way ahead of anybody else.

But things went wrong. My first wife got sick and I just threw it away and forgot about it. I picked it up in later years, in the early 1990s, and got the patent for it. I had it on the market, and then the fella I had the contract with took a heart attack and had to quit the business. For me to restart with a new person to get it back on the market, and borrow a whole bunch more money, I just said no.

All horses I have respect fer. You gotta have that. I don’t care whether it’s a kitty cat or an elephant, respect them. If you don’t have that, don’t own them. If you respect an animal then you’ll have dedication from them.


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