WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: BRIANNA HIGGS
LOCATION: MARYLAND THOROUGHBRED HORSEMAN’S ASSOCIATION
My experience interning with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) and Beyond the Wire was unlike any previous experience I have ever had. Going in to the internship my exposure to the racetrack was extremely limited. I had only been to a racetrack two other times, and the most recent was with the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program which is what set me on the path that led to the MTHA.
My expectations for this internship were a little all over the place, as I truly did not know what to expect. I was hoping for knowledge and experience in a real world career setting, which I have not had through school thus far. I was not sure of what I would be doing beyond looking at horses for Beyond the Wire and working to help place them in Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance facilities, but after my first day I realized that was just a small piece of the internship; turns out, I was completely oblivious to all that the MTHA does.
The MTHA plays a crucial part in helping those that work and live on the backstretch. My perception of horse racing never included the backstretch and being involved in that world made me realize that in the future I want to help the unsung heroes who make the track what it is. The MTHA looks out for the workers that do everything at the track, and the biggest thing that I heard repeatedly by many who work on the backstretch was that they were there for the horses. I had never really thought about all that goes into the daily routines of a racetrack, let alone those that care for the horses. The reason that people are working at the track always comes back to one common denominator – the love of horses. No matter the job, it all ties in, so being able to intern at an organization that helps protect and guide those that care for the horses was an honor.
Going forward from this experience, I hope to be able to step into an organization like the MTHA after I graduate from Centenary University in May. I have always been focused on horses and I knew I needed a career involving the equine industry in some capacity. I was not set on any particular aspect of the equine industry as a whole, but I have found an environment I enjoy at the racetrack. I have always had a strong passion for equine aftercare, which I hope one day to pursue in some fashion, but it never crossed my mind until going through the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program and this internship that the people that care for the horses also need representation. Through helping the people on the backstretch, I can help make the lives of the horses better because happy employees will raise the level of care for each and every horse. I hope that in the future I will find a position similar to my internship where I can maintain an equal mix of working with horses and people in the Thoroughbred industry.
MTHA's Jessica Hammond (L) with Brianna Higgs (R) at Laurel Park.