Charlene Burkhardt -- Tattoo Artist

The following excerpt is from Women in Racing: In Their Own Words. Published September 2001 by Eclipse Press.

There is one tattooer at each racetrack. When the trainer pays the horsemen's bookkeeper for the tattooing, that generates a receipt. They put those receipts in an envelope. I would go and pick up the envelope every afternoon after the races. Then I would schedule the horses to be worked on the next morning. Much of this is done on a rush-job basis. A lot of people put off getting their horses tattooed. (As a result) I've tattooed horse at midnight, I've tattooed them on horse vans...there have been a lot of "emergencies."

I've been run out of places. One trainer ran me out of his barn. He had a gray filly that did not match her foal papers in any way, shape, or form. This guy was throwing stuff around the shedrow and yelling at me to tattoo her. I told him I couldn't. I went to my car. He came out, still screaming at me and pounding on the hood of the car. He said something like, "You're nothing but a lowly tattooer. I don't need you." I just looked at him and said, "Yes, you do." And I drove off.

He went to the racing secretary's office in a rage and was throwing condition books around. Then he went to the stewards. But the ball was in my court. He had no serve. They couldn't help him because he had foal papers that didn't match the horse.

A few days later I was selling mutuel tickets in the track kitchen and he came in. I thought, "Uh, oh, here we go, right in front of people, him yelling at me again." But he walked right up to me and said, real nice and calm, "I need you." I said, "Good." And since he finally had gotten the correct foal papers, I could tattoo his filly. So I did.

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