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From East Coast To West Coast

Published: September 18, 2021 11:25 am ET

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Leading up to the 2021 edition of National Caretaker Appreciation Day events taking place the week of September 20-26, Standardbred Canada is profiling caretakers from across the country in our Faces of Racing series. The series continues with a profile on Elizabeth Tanguay of Woodstock, New Brunswick.

Growing up in the small town of Woodstock, N.B., Elizabeth Tanguay never imagined that she would find herself standing in the winner’s circle working as a caretaker on the west-coast circuits. But after moving to Calgary, Alta., to attend college for Massage Therapy, she was introduced to Jodi and Brandon Campbell which ignited her passion for harness racing.

Like many students attending college, Elizabeth was working part-time in retail, but after meeting Jodi and Brandon, she was reminded of her days as a young girl when she accompanied her dad, who was once a caretaker, to the races in New Brunswick, as well as the two retired Standardbreds she grew up around, making her instantly jump at the opportunity to work with the pair at their stable.

“I was working a part-time job at Sport Chek while being in college and around that time I met Jodi and Brandon and started coming around the farm and track more and more just to check it out. Of course, I fell in love with the horses and watching them race,” she explained. “They were looking for help and Jodi asked if I was interested in a job working for them. I was between one day a week at Sport Chek and working with Jodi and Brandon while also being in college. Soon enough I was working almost full-time for them, finished school and have stuck around ever since!”

Let’s meet Elizabeth in this video produced by Standardbred Canada’s Hailey Saunders with video and photo contributions courtesy of Orianna Scheck.

Since graduating, Elizabeth has managed a busy schedule. She is a Registered Massage Therapist at the Peel Salon & Spa at the Four Points by Sheraton in Calgary and works full-time as a caretaker helping take care of 22 horses for Brandon Campbell. However, her scheduled changed when 2020 hit, and she was out of work as a massage therapist due to lockdowns. In the face of that hardship, she found solace getting to wake up each day and work with the horses.

“I work my two jobs and between massage therapy and horse racing seven days a week, it can be very tiring at times, but its 100 percent worth it in the end. The pandemic has also been super hard on me. I was out of work for almost five months with all the lockdowns we had and being down with the horses every so often really helped me cope with the pandemic. It made me feel happier being surrounded by the one animal I’ve grown up around and love.”

When Tanguay first got her start with the Campbell Stable, the first horse she got introduced to was Paperback Thriller, who is also a horse that she will never forget because it was the horse she got her first winner’s circle picture with after starting as a caretaker. Since then, she has added Appellate and Real Buzz to her list of favourites and both have her wrapped around their hooves!

“Appellate and Real Buzz...they know when I walk in the barn doors with bags of black licorice. They know the crinkle of the bag! They’ll bang at their doors until they get some treats, and they always manage to get more than everyone else as they tend to bang louder when I walk away, and I can’t resist not feeding them more!”

Elizabeth and Metaki at Century Downs Racetrack & Casino

After three years of dedication as a caretaker to Jodi and Brandon, Elizabeth has made many more appearances in the winner’s circle, including the prestigious Ralph Klein Memorial with three-year-old gelding Sunshine Boy, which showed her how gratifying it can be to work as a caretaker.

“Knowing how much work we put in before race days from both the caretakers and the horses and seeing how all that hard work we’ve done all week leading up to the race days is super rewarding, she explained. “Being around the horses is just my happiness. Harness racing is like an addiction. I love the feeling you get after racing a horse and everything leading up to it. The adrenaline rush and the nerves sometimes get the best of me though! Coming into the barn every day and seeing each and every face peek out of their stall knowing that all the work you’re about to put in is going to pay off is amazing.”

When asked what her definition of horsemanship is, Elizabeth was quick to note passion and patience as two important aspects. “Someone who brings out the best in these animals. Someone who is passionate and patient and loves what they do every single in and day out. We watch these horses grow into incredible animals and having good horsemanship is a big part of their performance.”

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