Time is our foe, embrace the slow

by Trey Nosrac

“Sign me up for your sport. You know how it thrills me to move at glacial speed,” said nobody.

We aren’t fast. And the next four months are the slowest part of our harness racing cycle. For an owner/breeder with a new broodmare, a positive pregnancy report for a mare is followed by an 11-month wait for the birth of a foal. Another year-and-a-half to get the resulting foal to market.

After purchasing a yearling, owners face month after month of training with hefty bills and occasional news bulletins, sometimes bad news. If you are lucky, your 2-year-old races sporadically, with weeks between races. For a successful 2-year-old, that is 15 minutes of action. For an unsuccessful 2-year-old, the owner does not get any action. Sure, the pace sometimes picks up in the racing season as a 3-year-old, but in the best circumstances, the action is not fast and furious.

Years ago, when the entertainment and wagering universes were primitive, long before a new species of humans roamed the earth with cell phones glued to their faces, these chasms of nothingness were tolerable. However, a vacuum of action is deadly for harvesting new participants in 2024.

Today, a computer page loading slowly can cause tremors of anxiety. Our attention is scattered. We simultaneously watch a streamed movie while wagering online on horse races and ordering Door Dash. Our addictions to phones and digital sites are real. Breathtaking technological innovations leave us gasping and make us nervous wrecks trying to keep up.

Except for those members indoctrinated and afflicted with the harness racing virus in days of yore, our game will never be fast enough. As thrilling as owning part of a racehorse on race day is, efforts to compete in non-stop engagement are between futile and useless. Doing nothing is worse than futile.

Allow a strange little thought for members of our racing tribe and new visitors; lean into the slow. Go counterculture and embrace our leisurely pace.

Most of us ache to make our lives richer by living with less and slower. Some folks may seek passions that allow them to slow down and savor simpler pleasures; this may be an opening for our sport. Changing a lifestyle is not easy, but our horses seem to have a soothing effect.

Horses can be part of a prescription for more mindfulness. When you work in the barn or visit a farm with horses, leave your phone at home or in the car. Try to carve out a few hours away from your devices. The total disconnection ship has sailed, but islands of calm around animals are a simple starting point.

Another benefit of including horses in a quest for a slightly slower pace is that our sport, in all its facets, can take us out of the house and into nature. The sights, smells, and sounds of a barn or a nature trail make life move slower. Nature and animals help us think deeper.

While our sport is not fast, our community is welcoming. With a little effort, harness-raising members can make friends, open dialogues, and join a group that occasionally offers face-to-face conversations and interactions.

And here is an odd thought. After a day in the country with nature and horses, try extending your mindfulness by journaling when you get home. Journaling is not for everyone but is a private, personal activity that might surprise you. Sit down with a pen and let your mind ramble.

Every year, every device, artificial intelligence, and media push us faster and faster. Perhaps our sport and the ever-magical horses we rely on can help us slow down. In recruiting a new person to join you in a harness horse adventure, use our slowness, community, and mindfulness as benefits, not obstacles.