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New Group Doesn’t Mince Words

Published: December 10, 2018 10:51 am ET

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It has been reported that eleven harness racing participants from across the Maritimes have created ‘Harness Our Future,’ a fledgling group that has been assembled in an effort to get youth involved in the future of harness racing and to offer general recommendations for the industry to thrive.

According to an article by the CBC, Harness Our Future was started by well-known Charlottetown breeder/owner Norman Hall. The 77-year-old is known across the country for his passion for the game, especially the breeding end of the industry.

Among other things, Hall has pointed to the fact that the Standardbred industry – both at the track on race day and behind the scenes – tends to be a social sport that brings both people and certain sectors of the community together. He has pointed out that there aren’t as many young people participating in the game compared to years past, and that has go to change if the sport is to flourish in the future.

"If you look around most racetracks elsewhere, perhaps not so much in P.E.I., but if you look at other racetracks you'll see a lot of grey-hair-headed people in the stands and not many kids running around," Hall was quoted as saying.

Norman Hall (Photo courtesy Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Hall realizes that something has got to change, and that is one of the reasons he started Harness Our Future, which has attracted some younger industry participants to help support the organization’s push.

"If you don't attract young people that are passionate and involved and want to remain involved and we don't make it appealing to them, there's no long-term sustainability," said 23-year-old horseman Brendan Curran, who is also part of the group.

Hall has explained that even though the P.E.I. industry is currently in good condition and “professionally run,” the industry in some neighbouring provinces is in more of a precarious position, which is something that can’t be ignored.

"We can't just sit back and let Nova Scotia and New Brunswick fail — and they're getting to that point — and say, 'well we're OK,'” said Hall. “That has implications for the future of our industry, too."

Harness Our Future has listed some general ideas on its website that it believes can be implemented to immediately help the Maritime industry.

In addition to Hall and Curran, Harness Our Future is comprised of David MacKenzie, Melissa Keith, Kyle Burton, Penny Wesley, Scott Roloson, John MacKenzie, Cheryl MacQuarrie, Pierre-Luc Savoie and Dawn Hubbard.

"Youth can really teach us," said Hubbard, who believes that there should be more youth on harness racing boards. "The youth have a lot to say, it's just to get them talking."

(With files from the CBC)

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