view counter
view counter

Faces Of Racing: Diana Woods

Published: July 12, 2018 6:25 pm ET

Last Comment: July 14, 2018 3:04 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

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

As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” these words could not be truer for Diana Woods, caretaker for the Ben Wallace Stable in Puslinch, Ontario; “I love it. I just love it,” says Diana on her work as a caretaker.

Diana started working for the Ben Wallace Stable nearly 20 years ago, but her passion for the horses blossomed much earlier. Growing up in Quebec, Diana’s childhood was filled with encounters with animals that included having riding horses with her sister. “Before I had any real exposure to harness racing, my sister and I had a little riding horse that was too small for a saddle so we found some wood and constructed a little sleigh for the horse to pull us around on. I guess you could say we made our own version of a jog cart. It was no race horse, or race bike but that’s what it reminds me of now when I think of that story.”

Her early love for the horse provided Diana with many wonderful memories and an eager desire to pursue a profession involving animals. One of Diana’s first jobs in Quebec was working with a local vet who happened to care for the Standardbred at their practice. It was during her time here that she learned a lot about the care and well-being of the equine athlete. Unfortunately, Diana’s employer became ill and had to close his practice but it was at this time that she was introduced to a local Standardbred trainer.

“I remember when I first got involved [with harness racing], someone told me, ‘If you don’t like the horses, don’t get into the business.’ You really have to love them for it to work out; its long days, hard work and sometimes it won’t go in your favor. But if you love the horse, you will be able to enjoy it. If you look after the horse, the horse will look after you.”

The dedication Diana has to harness racing, and most importantly to the horses in her care has not gone unnoticed throughout her career as a caretaker. During the 1980s, Diana was recognized as the Groom of the Year four times in Quebec. The plaque she received in 1989 is still proudly displayed in her home. The primary horse in Diana’s care during the 1989 racing season was Andy Lus, a trotting colt by Sunday Model. Almost 30 years later, Diana is able to recall racing highlights she experienced with Andy Lus.

At 62 years of age, Diana is showing no signs of slowing down in the racing game. At the Ben Wallace Stable, she is currently caring for five horses, including the respected Easy Lover Hanover. Diana and Easy Lover Hanover are regular fixtures in the preferred pace at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. When she speaks of her horses, there is no denying she loves them all, but Easy Lover Hanover seems to have her wrapped around his hooves; “He is just so quiet. He is easy to get along with and races so well week after week. His personality makes him so lovable and I can’t help but spoil him. There are always carrots waiting for him after he races -- and he knows it.”

Diana’s typical day at the barn begins at 5:00 a.m. “I like to get there early. It’s quiet in the barn so it makes it easy to focus on getting my work done. I especially like arriving early throughout the summer because I’m able to get the horses out early before it gets too hot and the bugs get too bad,” says Diana.

“I guess I should be getting ready to retire sometime in the next few years,” jokes Diana. “But I just love these animals. They give you a reason to get up in the morning. They trust you to look after them. They give you their all every time they go race. I can’t imagine not looking after them, so I guess I will have to semi-retire and just look after a few,” she laughs.

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.

July 14, 2018 - 3:04 pmWell deserved recognition!

Well deserved recognition! Diana, I've wondered how you've been and I'm thrilled to see you are still doing what you love! Fantastic!

July 12, 2018 - 7:40 pmI must add a personal comment

Ben Wallace SAID...

I must add a personal comment to this story... as noted, Diana has worked for me for close to 20 years, but she has been much more than just an employee. She has always taken the greatest care of her horses, and has done so with pride. I am very fortunate to have her as part of my team.

July 12, 2018 - 7:17 pmDiana is definitely in the

Diana is definitely in the top tier of grooms anywhere, completely devoted to the horses in her charge, very professional and kind. If you are a racehorse and she is your groom you have hit the jackpot. In addition Diana is always in a good mood and will talk with anyone.

view counter

© 2020 Standardbred Canada. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement and compliance with the legal disclaimer and privacy policy.

Firefox 3 Best with IE 7 Built with Drupal