Ethan Pincott Blog: Life as a Lindsay Park Racing strapper

Working for Lindsay Park Racing (LPR) at their Flemington Stables has been such a rewarding experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to be able to work for such a highly regarded organisation headed by some of our industry’s leading trainers.

My primary role at LPR is a stable hand and strapper, a job where I look after my four horses in the morning as well as being a “groundie” for one of the riders. A quick overview of my morning routine is the following:

Most days I usually start at 5a.m., everyone has four designated horses/boxes they are responsible for so each morning I muck out the boxes, give my horses some fresh Lucerne hay, clean out their water trough, and tack them up if need be. As you work with these horses on a daily basis, it’s a very rewarding experience. You develop a bond and relationship with each horse as well as a deeper understanding of what’s ‘normal’ for your horse and what isn’t

By 5:45, boxes are done, and by this time everyone is at the work board seeing who their rider is and what horses they’re working. As a groundie my job is to tack my rider’s horses up for them, wash them after work then either put them on the walker or back in their box (depending on work), and get the next one or two horses tacked up or take them to the track for a crossover. During this time I may also help out other groundies or my foreman. The number of horses you work with depends day to day but you can work with as little as four or as many as nine.  

By 8:45 or 9, when all the horses are away, we start doing our jobs, mine are to hand wash all the bridles in disinfectant and clean up the piles of sawdust/straw in each breezeway from the leaf blowers.  

After those tasks are done, I go back to my four boxes where I check all my horses’ legs for swelling, cuts, lameness, and whether they’re missing a shoe or not and report any issues to my foreman. If my horses are up for it will give them a couple hugs and scratches too.  

Upon my arrival at LPR, I quite literally hit the ground running. I had a lot of information thrown at me and a lot of people teaching me the run-down, each with a different style of how to do it. I had to learn quickly and absorb everything like a sponge. But the hardest and most frustrating part in the beginning was finding a method that suited me. Everyone else did things differently and trying to adopt their methods quite often didn’t work, and I had to personally adapt to my job and my environment to find that ‘lightbulb moment’, which took a few weeks to find. Once I did, everything fell into place and my job become more enjoyable and more achievable.  

Not only did I learn a lot about how a racing stable was run and how fast paced it is, but I have also learnt a lot more on the biomechanics of racehorses and how important and frequent a vet’s job is within it all, a real highlight for me as my desired career within this industry is to be an equine vet. But probably the most important thing I’ve learnt throughout this experience is how determined I can be when I really put my mind to it. Throughout high school I always had this drive to do well and stay on top of my schoolwork, but since working at LPR it has gone up a few gears. Each day I go to work, regardless of what happened the day or the week before, with a determination and drive to make a good impression on my co-workers and foremen. Even in the moments when I fall behind with my horses for my rider, I always go that extra mile to ensure I get the job done.  

Another highlight of mine has been strapping for trials and races as well, my first race as a strapper was at Ballarat Turf Club, where I strapped a 12 th  place and a third place finisher. But to me the best moment was when I got to strap one of my designated horses ‘Almighty Will’, at his second trial this prep where he won. For me this side of the job is really enjoyable as it reminds me of having a similar atmosphere to that of when you go eventing.  

This placement has been such a rewarding experience for me and has opened my eyes to a whole new side of the racing industry you can’t simply understand unless you are part of it. If you are thinking about signing up for the next intake, I would highly recommend it. You will never stop learning, make friends for life, and develop industry connections, as well as being able to work with horses every day.