Day At The Track

Patiences is the key in racing says Lorne House

07:44 AM 26 Apr 2014 NZST
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Lorne House, harness racing Harness racing Rival Seelster, harness racing
Lorne, Natasha and Lucas House
Celebrating in the winner's circle after Lorne House won the Balanced Image Trot in 2013 with Rival Seelster
Iron Horse Photo
Lorne House winning with Rival Seelster
Iron Horse Photo

 Thank to his grandfather, Alf Smith, Lorne House was able to realize that horse racing and being a part of the harness racing industry is what he wanted most from a young age. Lorne's grandfather owned and trained horses which resulted in Lorne's dad, Mike House owning and training horses as well.

"He doesn't own any horses right now" explains Lorne about his grandfather, however "he still comes to the races and he's a pretty big supporter."

Alf Smith, Lorne's grandfather taught him many things, but most importantly was having patience with horses. "He taught me all about patience with horses. When I was younger, I was more aggressive with horses" explains Lorne. "I wanted things to happen right away and he'd tell me 'slow down and take your time. Think things through and common sense will usually prevail'... he kept my head level for a kid trying to get into the game.

"When you're young, you think you know everything and everything has to go your way." Lorne reminisces about his youth. "That was one of the biggest things I learned over the years....You learn things from people that know and take advice from people that know. You don't know everything and even today, you're learning things at the barn or in a race. You can't afford to think you know everything because that's when you get in trouble."

Currently Lorne trains a horse for his dad, "he's just a three-year-old, named Happy Island. Last year he looked like he was going to be a nice looking colt as a two year old. He showed some promise, but got sick so we gave him some time off." Lorne says. "He's pretty close to racing again... he's gelded now. I geld them right away after I get them broke" explains Lorne. "They're much easier to handle especially around the fillies."

Lorne got into the sport of harness racing while in high school. "I would get to the barn at 4 in the morning and take care of the horses before I went to school. I did whatever I had to do." Lorne says. "Outside of school was work, work, and work. Anything that didn't have to do with school had to do with horses, I would go to the barn, go to the races, it was all about the horses.... I couldn't wait to get out of class to get to the barn."

Talk about dedication from an early age, when most teenagers would rather sleep in after hanging out with friends until late at night; Lorne was the complete opposite.

Through out school, Lorne never really entertained any other career choices. Lorne knew from the get go that training and driving horses is what he wanted to do for a career. "I used to go to the races every night with my grandfather when he raced, so this is how I knew from a young age this is what I wanted to do."

"Throughout school, I saved up enough money to buy a $2,000 claimer... I was around 17 at the time." Lorne says. "I trained the horse myself and that's how I learned the ropes." This was while Woodstock Raceway was still in action and this is where Lorne would race his horse, Set To Strike. "I raced him right through the summer at Woodstock and that's how I learned as things went on." Lorne explains.

Lorne grew up in Ingersoll, Ontario and is happily married to Natasha and together they have a 2 ½ year old son, Lucas. Lorne admits having a son now changes so much about himself and his outlook on life. "Before when it was just myself, if something didn't go right... you just can't go month to month. I think things through more long term now than I did before." Lorne says.

Lorne's wife, Natasha grew up with horse racing as well. Natasha's grandfather, Flo Rivest took Natasha under his wing from an early age. Natasha grew up with Flo, learning how to work with horses and eventually was a groom and then trained for her grandfather as well as her uncle Mike Rivest.

For all the time Lorne and Natasha spent at the tracks, Lorne confirms they met online, (Lorne thinks it was on Facebook), instead of at the race track. They clicked after chatting about horses and before Lorne knew it, here he is today, happy as ever.

Lorne is a pretty good driver, currently he is fifth in the driver's rankings at the Raceway at Western Fair this year, (From January 1st,2014 - April 22nd, 2014), winning just over $195,000 in purse money. Just like so many race tracks in Ontario, the Raceway at Western Fair boasts a very strong and talented driving colony.

At Western Fair, (located in London, ON), Lorne drives frequently for trainer Scott McNiven who is ranked fifth in the trainer's standings at Western Fair as well. It seems Lorne and Scott share a unique symbiotic relationship that is producing quality results.

In regards to work ethic, for Lorne it's about never giving up, better yet never letting a bad moment take over more than a moment's worth of time. Being able to constantly shift focus to each upcoming priority is an asset Lorne uses to keep driving ahead, even when the road appears full of fog.

"You show up everyday willing to drive" says Lorne. "Even if it's one drive at 100-1 you show up. I've been lucky to pick up drives for a guy like Scott McNiven who is now 75% of my drives. Driving live horses as well makes a huge difference, that's really given my driving career a big boost driving for Scott the last few years."

"I've known Scott for years and years growing up around horses. When he needed a driver, he would put me down here and there and eventually it worked out where I got to drive them all." For Lorne, it all comes down to building bonds based on trust and mutual respect that will ensure future success and growth.

"Scott does a great job with his stable... that's one thing about Scott, when they put their nose to the gate, they are in the proper class and ready to go!"

Lorne's most memorable race to date was a stakes race at Hanover Raceway. "Last year a horse my wife and I own, we won a stakes race up in Hanover for 2 year old trotting colts. It was the Balanced Image Stakes." Lorne continues, "We bought the colt, Rival Seelster, as a yearling and it was the biggest race I ever won. It was very special to win with a horse we both own and train."

"It was a nice win for us because up to that point it had been a lackluster year for us, we invested some money into young horses and it (worked out) for us." Lorne says.

As with everyone, we all need our moments to regroup and even though Lorne is dedicated to the sport he loves there is another sport he turns to when needing a Zen moment and that is fishing. Lorne enjoys fishing on the Northern shores of Lake Erie for Walleye and Northern Pike, this is where Lorne can collect his thoughts and allow his mind to generate a flow of patience which fuels his drive to be a top quality horseman. If Lorne isn't fishing, he does likes to get out and play baseball when possible.

For the future of harness racing, Lorne feels strongly that more interaction is needed between drivers and fans (new and old) to ensure the future success of the sport, through social media venues like Twitter and Facebook.

"Tweeting and paddock interviews are going over big at the Meadowlands and their handle is way up. I just think we as drivers need to make ourselves more available to the public in today's world." Lorne explains.

Over the years, one person Lorne has a lot of appreciation for is his assistant Scott Bell. Spending so much time together day in and day out, Lorne is grateful for Scott's dedication. "He's been a real big help over the last couple of years. Helping me with the day to day stuff at the barn, we talk a lot of racing and he goes to the races and is always watching. So we spend a lot of time talking."

Lorne considers Dave Wall to be the Godfather of the driver's room at Western Fair Raceway. "At the race track there is a great group of guys both on and off the track. Dave Wall is basically the father figure to everyone in the driver's room." Lorne says. "Everybody loves Dave... and when Dave says something about racing, you got to sit back and listen."

Out of all the big races, Lorne enjoys watching the Hambletonian mainly for the reason Lorne enjoys working with trotters and feels he has had more success with trotters compared to pacers.

A trip Lorne would love to take his family on is to visit Australia. "It would be really neat to see how they do their racing first hand." Lorne says. "Their everyday stuff is a lot different; it would be neat to pick up some pointers as well as checking out the Outback and the beaches."

By: Roderick Balgobin  Twitter: ScSupernova

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