Mary Scollay -- Speaking Their Language

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

When I worked in Chicago, I used to play this game in the paddock before a race. Steve Morgan, who was an assistant steward at the time, was in the paddock a lot as part of his job, and I was there as track vet.
Horses are very used to being sort of...well, dismissed. You know, somebody leads them in there, somebody slaps a saddle on them, and out they go to the racetrack. Nobody really interacts with them. It's as if they're a piece of furniture or something.

I would say to Steve, "Watch this. I can make this horse look at me without me moving." First time it happened, he said, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Just watch."

As the horses would go around the walking ring. I'd pick out one and I'd concentrate and make eye contact with him. The horse would look at me like he's thinking, "Wow." The next time he'd be led around, he'd come looking for me. He'd start to walk past, he's being led in a circle, but he'd look back over his shoulder to see if I was still looking at him.

This happened all the time. I'd made a connection with the horse without moving my arms or raising my voice -- just with eye contact. Steve was really surprised. It makes me wonder what horses think of us.

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