Jack Milner: Trainer Joe Soma hosted a group of seven youngsters at his Turffontein stable on Wednesday, to give them an insight into the role of a trainer in the racing industry.
The children, boys and girls, were aged between nine a 15 and they were selected because of their affinity with horses.
They come from a privately funded home which houses 30 abandoned children who have been there since birth. All ride horses, but some are better at it than others and would love to become jockeys. For all, though, it is about experiencing the healing power of the horse.
This group of youngsters are sponsored by The Heritage And Nissan Development Initiative, known by the acronym Thandi. The organisation came about when Team Nissan, a group of four show jumpers, decided there was no need to expand the size of their team and they would rather use the extra sponsorship to help teach kids what a horse can do for them.
Part of the initiative is to expose them to the world of horseracing and to show them that becoming a jockey is not the only way one can work with horses.
Soma explained the role of the trainer and the passion one needs to do that job. He told of how rewarding it is when everything comes together.
“When you meet these kids and see what they have to go through it makes certain things in our live look so petty,” said Soma. “You get beaten a short head in a race and you think it is so important. You look for people to blame.
“These are kids who were left in dustbins and rubbish dumps and who have to find a way to survive. When you meet them it really puts things into perspective.”
Other than having fun with the horses, the kids gained insight into various roles in horseracing – and enjoyed a dose of sugary refreshments.