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Faces Of Racing: Kaitlyn Wesley

Published: June 17, 2019 10:17 am ET

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Leading up to the National Caretaker Appreciation Day events that will be taking place during the weekend of July 19-21, Standardbred Canada will be profiling caretakers from across the country in our ‘Faces of Racing’ series. The series is continuing with Kaitlyn Wesley of Truro, Nova Scotia.

With a riding horse background, Kaitlyn Wesley’s transition into the harness racing industry was a natural fit. The 26-year-old found herself at Nova Scotia’s Truro Raceway after relocating from Edmonton, Alberta, around 10 years ago. Kaitlyn’s stepmother, Penny Wesley, introduced her to the sport and she has been addicted to the thrill ever since.

“Penny’s family had always been involved in the industry and through her cousin, Kenneth Greene, I was able to learn the tricks of the trade by helping with his stable,” she recalls.

Throughout her decade long involvement in the industry, Kaitlyn has been able to work with a variety of operations and learn from some of the local horsemen. She is currently employed by the Chris Covin Stable and lends a hand on race nights to horses in the Andrew Campbell barn. Along with the aforementioned horsemen, Kaitlyn also credits the Laffin Stable and Nick White for her growth in the sport.

“I have to say Nick White is someone I have looked up to. Nick was the one that pushed me to do things I would have never thought to do on my own, such as working with horses that others gave up on and learning to jog.”

Kaitlyn’s time spent at the track and in the barn over the years has brought her more responsibility and confidence. From starting out mucking, feeding and jogging, she has now added training trips to her work load. With a goal of attaining her trainer’s license in the near future, Kaitlyn hopes she will be able to accomplish her five-year plan and become one of the track’s female drivers. “I want to get more comfortable with the gate and being in close quarters with other horses around me. I would love to be a driver at Truro Raceway. There are only two female drivers based in Truro and I want to be the third.”

Kaitlyn’s definition of success as a caretaker includes three elements: the drive, the love and the determination. It is safe to say that those three elements are also the driving force behind her desire to explore all aspects of the game. “The most rewarding part of being a horse person is seeing all the little things you do daily bring a positive change in a horse. When working with a troubled horse, whether it be an injury or attitude issue, and seeing your hard work pay off is truly an amazing feeling.”

Kaitlyn and four-year-old mare Kennan Barbie jogging at Truro Raceway (Photo courtesy Andrew Campbell)

Kaitlyn’s favourite time of the year as a caretaker is when the east coast racing season starts at the local tracks after closing shop for the winter months, which is no wonder after the way her racing season started.

“One of my most memorable moments as a caretaker came this spring during our first race card of the season. During the winter, Andrew (Campbell) claimed an 11-year-old gelding, Prince Adam, who we weren’t really expecting more from than a safe trip around the track, but he sure shocked us and gave us a win in our very first start. Seeing his progression is a thrill.”

To date, Prince Adam has been on quite a ride at the Truro oval. He has picked up three wins, two second-place finishes and a pair of thirds from ten starts (as of June 14).

“My advice for the up and coming generation of caretakers is that this industry has lots of ups and downs, but not to stress – keep your head up, push yourself and the ups will always come,” says Kaitlyn. “Things don’t come easy in the harness racing industry, but when they do come it is worth all the hard work and determination.”

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