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Youth participate in Vernon Downs 4-H regional track tour

Posted 8/30/22

On Aug. 12, the 4-H program in Oneida County held an event for the Standardbred racing industry that was both educational and fun.

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Youth participate in Vernon Downs 4-H regional track tour

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VERNON — On Aug. 12, the 4-H program in Oneida County held an event for the Standardbred racing industry that was both educational and fun.

Seventeen youth and 11 4-H parents and volunteers participated from Oneida, Madison and Onondaga counties.

The day began at the Morrisville Rehabilitation Center with demonstrations of its underwater treadmill and swimming pool and a tour of the facilities. Then the group met at Vernon Downs Harness Track to tour the track and the backside. Oneida County 4-H alum Sophie Norton greeted the group and talked about how she became interested in harness racing and her job at the track. The group also met a Hamiltonian-winning driver and met some of the horses he is training.

The next stop was Crawford Farms in Durhamville to learn about the care and breeding process for standardbred mares and the foaling process and sale fitting of the yearlings. Heather Reese, a former Oneida County 4-H member, gave the group a tour of the facilities, including the yearling and training barns and the equine area, where the group saw a variety of rehabilitation equipment.

Back at the racetrack, the Oneida County Ag in the Classroom Educator, Mikaela Dupuis-Cormier, presented a lesson focusing on careers in the equine industry and various medications that can be found in equine first aid kits.

The day offered a candid look at the racing industry from an insider’s perspective and set the stage before viewing a night of harness racing. The third race of the night was the Oneida County 4-H Trophy Race. Just before the start of the third race, youth and their families made their way trackside in preparation to present the winning horse and driver with the Oneida County 4-H Trophy.

The Vernon Downs Track Tour through Oneida County 4-H has been a staple program for youth and adults. This daylong tour helps young people understand horse health care, equine management, and the ethical standards required to be a part of the racing industry.

For more information about 4-H and the 4-H Horse program at CCE Oneida County, call Lisa Farney at 315-736-3394, Ext. 122 or email lb553@cornell.edu.

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