Represents college, country
Olds College's racetrack program may be the only of its kind in Canada but it belongs to an international community of peers.
It's called the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), started by Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Only school of its kind
His goal was to gather the race academies of the world to share information and as the only school of its kind in Canada, Olds College - represented by instructor Theresa Sealy - was invited to attend its November convention in Abu Dhabi.
She later visited Dubai for the federation's formal meeting in January. "It was quite amazing because you're rubbing shoulders with people all over the world who are involved with these racing academies," Sealy said.
The 18 founding countries of the federation include: Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Turkey, the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Canada. While in the UAE, Sealy said she discovered many shared practices between schools but also learned about what other academies are teaching students. One lesson had a business focus: how riders can manage their earnings wisely.
In Australia, Sealy said, apprentice jockeys put their money into trusts until they become journeymen. Only then can they withdraw it or keep investing. The federation also discussed the jockey diet - how to eat for strength while maintaining a low weight.
"It was fantastic to be able to go there and hear what other academies are doing, for sure - and a lot of things we're doing (are) the same," she said.
Her next meeting comes at the end of May in Warsaw and there could be further collaboration between members.
"Hopefully with the exchange program that's coming up, we'll be able to send some of our students to those countries and possibly have students corning to our country to mentor with our horsemen here as well."