May 2017 Issue - page 9

PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
May 2017
Page 9
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AWoman in a Man’s World:
Parx Trainer Mary Pattershall
By Chris Forbes
Mary Pattershall has been
a trainer at Parx Racing for 31
years. Here is an interview with
her:
CF: How and when did you
get started in the horse racing
business?
MP: Wow 31 years has
passed in the blink of an eye! I
was working for the department
of recreation in Philadelphia
where I became friendly with
one of the lifeguards. I asked
him what he did in the off sea-
son for a job. He said he walked
horses. I said take me there
and guess where I wound up!
Glen Hild was the first trainer I
worked for and he was a work-
aholic. He soon started to teach
me how to properly groom and
rub down legs and bandage race-
horses. Up until that time I was
strictly a city girl, but I knew
I loved horses. Now I call the
racetrack home and the people
there, are family!
CF: Looking back at the
whole experience, is it what you
expected it to be or has it been
completely different? What has
most surprised you about the
horse racing business?
MP: Looking back now, I
wasn't really expecting a career
in this field. I thought I would go
pet horses and feed them carrots.
I never knew the amount of work
put into race horses. I quickly fell
in love with a sometimes grueling
and very physical 7 day a week
job. What surprised me then and
continues to, is the dedication
and the love all the people of the
backside have for the animals,
from the barn cats to the horses.
What I saw is what most peo-
ple see when they watch a race,
horses come out of the starting
gate and run as fast as they can
to get to the finish line. What I
didn't know was the months of
training, teaching a horse to come
out of the starting gate takes time,
building muscle takes proper
diet, vitamins and supplements.
I never thought about how many
times a horse needed to be shod
or the different bits that went into
their mouths. So, everything I
experienced was not what I was
expecting!
CF: Do you feel as a female
you have had to work just that
much harder to earn the respect
of other trainers, owners and
jockeys over the years?
MP: As a woman in a male
dominated field I felt as though
I did have to work harder to
earn respect. I was told by
older women that as late as the
70's, after the last race ran a
woman would be escorted off
the grounds, so she was unable
to complete her duties for that
horse. Women have come a
long way in the fight for equal-
ity and the racing world isn't
any different, but I do feel we
are taken much more seriously
and have earned the respect we
deserve.
(Continued on page 35)
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