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Faces Of Racing: Melanie Leblanc

Published: June 20, 2018 6:59 pm ET

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Leading up to the National Caretaker Appreciation Day event in July, Standardbred Canada will be profiling caretakers from across the country in our Faces of Racing series.


From the moment Melanie Leblanc was introduced to the Standardbred horse, she fell in love with the animal. At age four, Melanie accompanied her mom and her older sister to Inverness Raceway, and now at age 17, she finds herself as a full-time caretaker for the Erland Campbell Stable on the Inverness backstretch.

Having been around the Inverness oval for over a decade, Melanie credits several horse people for influencing her love of the industry and encouraging her to pursue a profession as a caretaker, including Erland Campbell, John MacDonald, Wendell Harper, Simon Poirier and the late Colin Basker. Melanie considers her advisors at the track like a second family; knowing she can always count on them for advice and encouragement. Along with working with an incredible group of people, Melanie explained that the most rewarding aspect of her job is being surrounded by the horses themselves. “Being able to look at my horses and think I am so lucky to have them. I have absolutely no clue where I would be without them”. Melanie especially appreciates their personalities and how unique every horse in her care is.

With a short racing season in Inverness, LeBlanc embraces the racing action every chance she gets. While she enjoys training horses back to the races and seeing them go behind the gate on Sunday afternoons, she really looks forward to Wednesday night racing on the Inverness oval under the bright lights that illuminate the small Nova Scotia town throughout the summer months.

Before getting her horses to the track, Melanie is well aware of the importance of keeping a horse healthy and ready to race. She admits that her horses get all of her attention and any of their needs come before her own. “Most people if they are going to jog and their horse is lying down will make them get up, but me, I wait around until they decide they want to get up.”

With her fine attention to detail and her willingness to go above and beyond for her horses and stable, Melanie is considered to be a role model for the younger generation of horse people in her community. Kayla Habicht-Walker, a notable fixture in the Cape Breton racing community, emphasizes the dedication Melanie demonstrates day in and day out, noting that her work ethic does not go unnoticed. Being someone that youth can look up to is an aspect of harness racing that keeps Melanie fresh and enthusiastic about the industry. Her advice for the up and coming generation of caretakers in the industry is, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t, because if your mind is set, you can do it!”

This past spring, Erland had placed the duties of training back three of his horses to Melanie, increasing her responsibilities in the barn; which proved to be successful as they have picked up six cheques in six starts, including a trip to the winner’s circle with Take The Chance, in wire to wire fashion in 2:04.1, on June 10, a horse she has worked on and off with over the years but took full responsibility of in 2015. While Melanie has an interest in obtaining her trainer’s license in the future, for now she is content on continuing her role as a caretaker along the backstretch in Inverness and adding to her knowledge of the standardbred.

“[National Caretaker Appreciation Day] seems to be a great thing. [We are] going to be able to show why we do what we do, what we do, and how much we do. It’s nice to be recognized here and there.”

Standardbred Canada along with the horsemen’s associations and tracks across the country will partner on National Caretaker Appreciation Day the weekend of July 20-22 at racetracks across the country.


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