by Chris Lomon
If there were an added hour in a day or an extra day in the week, odds are Michaela Schock would still be doing something horse related.
Her days are rarely the same, mostly long, and typically draining, but you’d never know it from the moment the 30-year-old from Dover, DE picks up the phone.
Exactly how many horse hats does she wear?
“A lot,” said Schock with a laugh. “I groom in the mornings for Pat and Traci Berry, and I also own a few racehorses with them, then I have my show horses, which are retired standardbreds, and then I do teeth, and also some training when people have off-the-track standardbreds that they want retrained to ride. So, I break them and find them homes. I really do wear a lot of hats.”
Somehow, the owner of Dover-based EquiDental manages to make all of them fit.
Challenges, as expected, can be numerous.
“Right now, it’s hard to manage my teeth schedule with my racing schedule. I’m having a tough time juggling that right now. I’ve had to back off the teeth part a little bit, just to keep up with the racing schedule. It’s hard because both are profitable, but I don’t know how long my body can keep up doing the teeth. But I really do love doing everything that I do. I surround myself with the love of horses. It’s what I always wanted to do, so I’m doing it.”
Schock, who attended Lake Erie College and then went to Midwest Dental Academy, has developed a major affinity for pacers and trotters.
When she was endeavoring to make dentistry a full-time job, Schock worked at the racetrack, and quickly attracted several new clients. When she added groom to her repertoire, plying her trade at Dovington Training Center in Delaware, it took less than a week for her to be awestruck by the standardbreds.
“I come from a riding horse background, and I had never really dealt with standardbreds until about seven or eight years ago,” said Schock, who played lacrosse at Lake Erie. “And when I did get to know them, I just fell in love with this breed because of their heart and determination. I think it’s unmatched compared to other breeds. There is just something so special about them.”
Through her connection with racehorses, Schock was introduced to Lightning Moon, a 2006 Western Hanover brown gelding. Their association would lead to yet another addition to her resume.
Bred by David Meirs and Hill View Enterprises, Lightning Moon raced 226 times and won 34 times. He ended his career running in the $15,000 claimers at Chester. Terri Lynch bought the pacer in 2016, after he experienced soundness issues. After he was retired from racing, he was sent to Schock for training in February 2018.
A patient hand eventually led Lightning Moon into the Rookie Division and Intro to Dressage at the National Standardbred Show, along with other successes.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes with leading horses into a new direction after their racing careers are over. When you see that transition, from one thing to another, it’s really wonderful. When I take these horses from the racetrack and transition them into riding horses, their will and determination to please is what has really driven me to keep working with them.
She said she’s grateful to have a vast array of opportunities to further those associations.
“It’s awesome working on the racehorses and seeing them out on the track. Whether it’s on the track or riding them, my passion for standardbreds is so strong. They work so hard. To see them out there, competing, it’s a great feeling, as is working with the drivers and trainers. These horses, they always try their hardest.”
Schock has learned, over the years, that there is a certain type of horse that holds great appeal for her.
Spoiler alert: it’s not the easy ones.
“The problem horses, the ones that take a lot of time and effort, those are the horses that are the most rewarding to develop. You love watching them succeed. When I started working with the standardbreds, there was a horse called Believe This Bob. I guess he was quite a handful to jog. He had a hard mouth. But he was so simple to ride… you could ride him in a halter. Being able to help him was also really fulfilling.”
It’s yet another moment that typifies why long days, hectic weeks, and little downtime doesn’t faze the hard-working horsewoman.
Any day with horses, she reaffirmed, is a good one.
“It really is. I wake up and go to bed happy knowing that I’m doing what I love. I go in every day and I’m happy. I love these horses and I love watching their personalities bloom.”
So, it might not come as a huge surprise that the multi-skilled Schock is considering throwing another hat into the racing ring.
She’s looking to possibly add a pair of new roles to her seemingly expanding list of achievements.
“I think I would like to own some horses on my own. I own horses with other people now, but I think it would be nice to get my trainer’s license too. I have everything in the works to get it, I just haven’t taken the test yet. I think that would be the next step, to get my license and train a few of my own. I think that would be fun.”
In spite of the time constraints connected to her career, Schock is able to carve out some personal time throughout the racing season, including playing the role of fan for another form of horsepower.
She also books a couple of trips to sunnier climes each year.
“My brother [CJ] races motocross professionally, so I’ll take time to travel to watch some of his races, if they’re close by. I do have a friend group, who don’t have a connection to horses, so that can be a breath of fresh air at certain times. I do make time to have a social life, but it’s very little. I also like to take trips every once in a while. I tend to go back to Mexico a lot, typically, Playa del Carmen. I went in December and I’m going back in May, to Riviera Maya. But I do look forward to getting back.”
Back to her beloved horses.
“Every job I have, it’s all about the love of these great animals. They really are the best.”