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Mount Pleasant Meadows: Where the horse is king

Mt. Pleasant Meadows

500 N. Mission Rd.

Mount Pleasant, MI 48858

(989) 772-2725

Live racing Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Racing in 2013 through October

By CHRISTINA FELTMAN

Student contributor

 

If you’re looking for something different to do that’s also inexpensive, you can be entertained as well as educated in your own backyard. Not many people are aware of Mount Pleasant Meadows. Opened in 1985, it remains the only live horse racing track in Michigan.

 

I had always known the racetrack was there and they raced horses, but I never knew the extent of knowledge and work that was required to race and care for the animals. I had to be around the age of 11 or 12 when I rode around the track on my pony for the first time. The event was a fundraiser for 4-H, and I remember galloping my pony around that track thinking it was the coolest thing to feel that breeze in my hair and pretending I was a jockey riding the fastest pony ever as we passed in front of the stands.

 

Then there were the weekend summer horse shows. From the show area you couldn’t see the gates, but you could always hear the power as the horses jumped out of the gates trying to get into full speed. There’s something about hearing the thunder of so many hooves that sends tingles into your soul. The temptation would get the better of us and we’d ride our horses down, between our classes, and watch through the chain link fence.

 

I can remember and see the changes Mount Pleasant Meadows went through over the years.

 

Mount Pleasant Meadows started off as a small two-story tin building; food and refreshments were served on the lower part while announcements and betting were set in the upper

level.

 

Now it has grown into a multiple-purpose building with its own name: “Winners Circle Lounge.” They now have live simulcast racing from all tracks all year long, betting cages, functional bar, and a food area. They also supply outside bleacher seating, covered seating, and indoor seating to accommodate everyone.

 

A few years back, I was introduced into the horseracing world. People you don’t know quickly become friends. I met people from different places and countries and learned new practices.

Photo Courtesy: Dana Bonnell/Nathan Funnell

Photo Courtesy: Dana Bonnell/Nathan Funnell

For owners and trainers, it’s a “make you or break you” career. The old term “Sport of Kings” is a clear definition of horse racing. Life working on the track sticks with you even when you leave the track. To argue with my English professor, horse racing/life is a culture. Traditions from old racing still continue,  traits are passed down from trainers to workers or trainers to their own children, and beliefs play a big role in horse racing.

 

Even though I was raised on the back of a horse, there were still many things I learned about horses while I worked at Mount Pleasant Meadows. I personally worked with the  thoroughbreds. Every single one of those horses had its own personality, and I had to approach them to accommodate those individual personalities.  Some were as sweet as sugar while others not so much, but one thing they all had in common was how they walked with an aura about them.

 

They were proud, vibrant, and beautiful. No matter if they were ill-mannered or not, they demanded to be noticed and deserved to be seen. They were bred to be in that spotlight — to carry on the tradition of sire and dam. And to be worshiped by the people around them.

 

You can see this demand demonstrated as they do a post parade before the start of a race. The horses dance, jive, and round their necks in anticipation of the race. Even though I haven’t worked at Mount Pleasant Meadows in a few years, I still look up placings of horses I worked with. In a sense, I worship them.

 

I enjoy seeing that they do so well, knowing I had a part in their history, and I also like to think maybe I had one little part in what they became.

 

Mount Pleasant Meadows is one of our local businesses. Why not support a glimpse of history. Look at the majesty of the ponies and cheer on locals who race. There’s no cost to go unless you decide to bet on your favorite pony.

 

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