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Faces Of Racing: Glenda Giles

Published: July 5, 2019 10:17 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 Glenda Giles of Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

There aren’t many people in the harness racing industry that come from the province of Saskatchewan, and there also aren’t many people who would travel 700 kilometres one way to race, but there is one special caretaker that does, and her name is Glenda Giles.

When you ask owners and trainers what they look for in a good caretaker, some of the most common responses include someone who is dedicated to the animal, someone who is compassionate, and someone who pays particular attention to the small details. If these traits were included in the dictionary definition of a caretaker, Glenda Giles’ photo would accompany it.

Glenda has been actively involved in the harness racing industry for the better part of thirteen years. It all started when she met Clayton Braybrook, who had grown up in a harness racing family.

“I had never seen a harness race before I met Clayton. He and his dad, Gerald, were my mentors and I credit much of what I know to Clayton,” she says.

Glenda Giles, pictured harnessing Appoggiatura while racing on the Manitoba circuit.

“We race in Manitoba during the summer and I live in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. Our horses are stabled in Virden, Manitoba, so one of the biggest challenges for me as a caretaker is the 700 kilometre drive one way every Saturday to race on Sunday,” says Glenda.

Day to day operations at the barn are shared between Glenda and Clayton, but on race day while he is driving, Glenda is busy running the stable behind the scenes.

“After the harnessing is all done, Clayton is busy on the track so the rest is up to me, making sure they all have the right equipment on, getting to and from the paddock, bathing, picking stalls, watching water pails, whatever is needed, I am on it.”

Despite the lengthy travel during the summer months to race the horses in her care, Glenda wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Manitoba is a racing circuit that rejuvenates me every year. I love the people and fresh air of the circuit tracks. We are all in the same boat, we are racing to keep the industry alive in Manitoba and everybody hopes the other ones do well, even when they beat our own horses. The atmosphere is friendly and we all help each other out.”

“I may not have any good luck charms on race day, but I am always cheering for our horses at the top of my lungs – even when they aren’t doing so well, they’re doing the best they can, (and) I know they can hear me. Clayton says they even flick their ears when they hear me hollering for them,” she laughs.

The Manitoba Harness Racing Association recognized Glenda as its 2017 Caretaker of the Year. She was also a finalist for the 2018 Outstanding Groom Award that was presented during the O’Brien Award Gala in Mississauga, Ontario this past February.

“Unfortunately, I did not take home the Outstanding Groom Award at the 2018 O’Brien’s, but Standardbred Canada treated me royally and I was humbled and honoured to be nominated and be part of the celebration,” she reflects.

Glenda Giles (second from left) pictured at the 2018 O’Brien Awards Gala.

For Glenda, good horsemanship is focused on the health and soundness of the horse that enables them to be able to race for many years. “Anyone can buy and sell horses to beat other horses, but if you can keep them going yourself, that’s a good horseman,” Glenda explained. “Standardbreds are a lot like people, if you treat them well, they will respond equally.”

This Sunday (July 7), the Manitoba Great Western Harness Racing Circuit will begin its summer meet at the Holland Fair, where Glenda will be caring for six horses that will head behind the gate for trainer/driver Clayton Braybrook.

Leading up to NCAD events during the weekend of July 19-21 at racetracks across the country, Standardbred Canada has organized a NCAD Photo Contest to recognize the hard-working caretakers in our industry and we want your submissions! Click here to learn more.

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