Francesca (Maria) Rabadan -- Spit and Polish

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

I get up at two in the morning. I am the only woman in the house, so I get up early and I sweep, I mop, do the dishes, and then I am ready. I get to the barn at three or three-thirty. I come shouting to my fillies and my horses when I arrive, "Mama" to the fillies over here, "Papa" to the horses over there.

Horses get attached to people, yes. I have a mare that if I give her a bath, she lets me, she is very good. But if a man gives her a bath, well! She kicks all over the place and complains a lot. I teach my horses to be very gentle. I like them as though they were my children.

When I began to work here there were hardly any Hispanic women. Now there are a lot. We Mexicans, since we came to work here with the horses, we've always worked really hard. We don't care what time we have to get up...we work in all kinds of weather...There are a lot of people that say, "No, it's too cold, no it's late and I'm leaving..." But we Mexicans can stand all the work the boss gives us.

I am the groom for five horses. They take me all morning. I am finished with my five by eleven or eleven-thirty. Oh, my God (laughs), if I ever only had four horses I would get lazy. I always had five horses wherever I work.

Buy the book

Other excerpts