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Faces Of Racing: Tyler Schlatman

Published: June 26, 2019 9:50 am ET

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Leading up to the National Caretaker Appreciation Day events taking place on 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 Tyler Schlatman of Guelph, Ontario.

Tyler Schlatman was first introduced to the harness racing industry through his father and uncles when they would spend time on the homestretch in Hanover, Ontario. While learning the ropes of wagering from his family, Tyler found himself looking for a career change which lead him to the backstretch of racetracks throughout much of southern Ontario, and as far away as Ottawa. Actively involved in the racing industry for the better part of a decade, Tyler is currently employed by the Casie Coleman-Herlihy Stable based in Hamilton, Ontario.

“One day I was looking for a career change from radio broadcasting and I saw a new program offered by the University of Guelph at their Ridgeway campus in Clinton, Ontario. I graduated from the Performance Horse Handler program’s inaugural class and volunteered and worked my way into the horse business, and I’m still here,” recalls Tyler.

Working for Coleman-Herlihy has given Tyler some amazing opportunities. He has been able to care for some of the sport’s top equine athletes, including McWicked, who was voted the 2018 Horse of the Year in both Canada and the United States, and Stag Party, who was voted the 2018 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year in Canada. Tyler also looks after the four-year-old American Ideal mare Alexis Faith, who has compiled an impressive resume while in Tyler’s care, including a victory in the 2018 New York Sire Stakes final.

Tyler Schlatman, pictured bathing Stag Party.

“As a caretaker, my most memorable moment would have to be the Canadian Pacing Derby in 2018 with McWicked,” Tyler explained. “I still remember driving by all the Lazarus signs on the way to Mohawk all day as I drove back and forth from the retention barn. I wanted that win so bad because ‘Wicked’ was having such a great year and almost no one seemed to think he was the best. Casie had never won that race before, either, so I know she wanted it, too, and when we crossed the wire first, it was just a huge moment.”

Tyler Schlatman and McWicked, pictured in 2018 after winning the Canadian Pacing Derby.

“One of the specific times of year I look forward to as a caretaker is stakes season, for sure. I love looking at the schedules and seeing how the year looks for horses. Once the first Ontario Sires Stakes events take place there is a different type of energy in the barn and at the track,” he said.

Before his employment with Coleman-Herlihy, Tyler applied for and received his Standardbred trainer’s license in 2014. For a short while, he trained part-time and worked with some overnight racehorses, but three years ago he put training aside and started his role as a caretaker in return for a more steady income.

“I thought about claiming one this year, but with the hours I put in at the barn now I am happy with my role as a caretaker,” he said.

When asked where he sees himself in five years, Tyler emphasized working with the Standardbreds in some capacity, whether it’s as a caretaker still, or going back to his training duties.

“One aspect of the industry I always wanted to learn more about was shoeing. I always stand with the blacksmith when my horse is being shoed. I think a lot of people don’t care to learn much about that, but I have always liked to know why my horse is the angle he is or why he tipped out,” he explained.

When asked if he had any advice for the up and coming generation of caretakers in the sport, Tyler had a simple, yet encouraging message for those who are interested. “If you love it, then go for it. Nothing is easy, but this job can be very rewarding when things go right.

“Seeing a happy horse is the most rewarding part in the caretaker role. It’s a great feeling when your horse is sharp and alert; playing in the field and calling other horses. It can take the energy right out of you when your horse is not healthy and it can make you feel better when they are.”

Tyler Schlatman, pictured jogging Alibi (Photo courtesy Audrey Schlatman)

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