By Emma Geldart
BIBLE HILL, N.S. - Eleven years ago, 12-year-old Ben Hollingsworth walked into a racehorse barn at the Truro Raceway. The rest is history.
Submitted photo - Ben Hollingsworthâs life has never been the same since he walked into a barn at Truro Raceway as a youth. The racehorse trainer has quite a career ahead of him.
Now 23, Ben (Class of â15) has graduated from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture with a bachelor of science (Agr) in animal science and minors in both agricultural
business and food science and technology. Not only that, Ben landed his dream job in Ontario.
Hollingsworth is a racehorse trainer. Based out of the Truro Raceway in Bible Hill, he has been working with racehorses since the day he walked into that barn as a youth.
âMy grandmother was babysitting me one day,â Ben explains. âShe lives near the track and I was out on my bike. I wandered into one of the barns and picked up a broom and started sweeping.â
Hollingsworth explains although he had always had a love for horses, he didnât really know too much about them.
âI went in there not knowing a mare from a stud,â he laughs. âNow I have my own stable, I train horses and have gotten to work with some of the best horses and trainers in the Maritimes and in North America.â
From that day, Hollingsworth has been following his heart, not letting anything hold him back. His love for harness racing has led him all over the United States.
After his first year of university, he spent the summer working with a youth organization in the United States. He was browsing the Internet one day in high school and came across the Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF). The HHYF is an organization based in the US that provides young people and their families with opportunities to learn about harness racing. With an internship position available, Hollingsworth contacted the organization and soon enough, was on a plane to spend a summer in the US.
âIt was an incredible opportunity,â Ben explains. âI got to see a lot of fantastic barns and meet a lot of terrific people.â
His summer consisted of travelling all across the US teaching kids, ages 11 to 16, about harness racing. Along with another woman, they travelled to places like Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Ohio, to name a few. They hauled a trailer with seven trottingbred horses, all their gear, and all of their teaching supplies. The two of them would move from track to track and set up camps for kids.
âThe camps usually lasted five days,â Ben explains. âThe kids would stay overnight and we would teach them everything about harness racing. We taught them how to put on the harness, everything about the cart, jogging the horses, everything. At the end of the week they would get to drive in a race.â
Hollingsworth worked with the HHYF for two summers. Through his travels he met many experienced horse people in the industry. It was through these connections that Ben landed a full -time position beginning after he graduates Dal AC.
âOur first stop during my first summer was in Connecticut,â Ben explains. âI was offered a job but I had to come back for school. I went to work for that trainer last summer and he sent me to Ontario where I was offered this position that Iâll be going to after I graduate.â
Through his journey Hollingsworth was met with an incredible amount of support not only from his biological family, but from his racing family as well. From taking him under their wing and teaching him the ropes, to picking up a few of his chores when he had a class, and even having an owner sponsor his post-secondary education, he explains everyone at the Truro Raceway has played a hand in helping him get where he is today.
âWeâre the greatest enemies out on the track but weâre the best of friends off it,â Ben says. âEveryone has helped me so much. It was Phil and Dale Pinkneyâs barn that I walked into that day when I was 12 and theyâve been looking after me ever since. Darren Crowe gave me my first horse to train. The owners are all fantastic. We really are one big family.â
With Hollingsworth finally living his dream, to some it may look like heâs reached the end of his road. But for Hollingsworth, the journey has just begun.
Emma Geldart is a recent graduate of the public relations program at MSVU and a former marketing and communications assistant at the Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture.