By John Bombatch
XENIA — At 10 years of age, LC Plum almost seems to smile when his handlers get him ready for his morning workout. It’s as if he likes his new-found job of being the parade horse for this year’s Greene County Fair harness races.
He shows his teeth and patiently waits as trainer Kristina Smith and owner Gail Impson brush him and make a fuss over him. A handsome brown standard bred horse with a black mane, LC used to win his fair share of races. He had earned enough season points to race in some undercard events at the prestigious Little Brown Jug harness race last season.
In 195 lifetime starts, LC claimed 14 wins, 19 runner-up finishes and was third another 28 times. His lifetime earnings was just shy of $37,000. He turned in a best time of 1:52.4
Then he was retired after the Little Brown Jug race last September, and he grew despondent.
“LC Plum never seems to be happy unless he’s got a job,” explained owner Gail Impson of Cedarville. “So he really seems to like learning how to be a parade horse instead of a harness racing horse. He’s got a job again, and you can just tell that he likes it.”
Nineteen-year-old trainer Kristina Smith works with 17 horses on her father Randy Smith’s stable, located on the fairgrounds. Impson asked whether she’d be willing to help train LC into going from a harness horse that pulled its driver, into a parade horse that had a rider on its back.
Between workouts with the Randy Smith Stable horses, Kristina set about training LC Plum. She taught him to follow her, and even showed him a few hand signals for him to pick up. Smith said, because of her training load with her dad’s horses, it’s taken longer than normal to get LC Plum trained to her liking, but this week will be LC’s debut as the parade horse for the Greene County Fair.
“It wasn’t really that hard. Standard bred horses are easy to break to ride, they’re already accustomed to using a harness, so it’s mostly just getting them adapted to having someone on their back,” Smith said. “If they’ll take to having someone on their back, it’s pretty easy to teach them.
“It’s sometimes hard to get him to stop, or to stand still. And he’s not used to relaxing when he’s out on the track. He knows he’s a race horse and that he’s supposed to go. But he’s been doing really well.”
As long as it’s not too hot or too stressful for him, LC Plum will lead every single race at this year’s Greene County Fair … as the parade horse.
Racing will take place Wednesday Aug. 3 beginning at 6 p.m., and Thursday Aug. 4 with a 6:30 p.m. start. With Kristina’s guidance, LC will lead each race field for review before each race.
“It truly is an honor,” Smith said. “I asked (harness racing official) Bob Briley if I could train LC to be the parade horse, and he talked to the Fair Board and they said I could do it. It means a lot. I know that Gail had LC in the Ohio Ladies Pace series last year, and I know that it means a lot to her to still have the horse involved in the harness racing community. And best of all, it gives LC a good job to do.”
LC has a job once again, and he’s happy to do it.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.