By: Chris Lomon
There’s no doubt Cameron Lago
has charted a successful course in the standardbred industry, thanks to an unmistakable passion for the sport and an exceptional educational experience through Equine Guelph
“I started my appreciation for horses when I was about 9-10, when I attended the OHHA Youth camp at Flamboro Downs,” recalled the 20-year-old. “My love for horses and racing kind of all started with that. I’ve been hooked on it ever since.”
Lago admits that might be somewhat of an understatement.
“Yes, it probably is,” he said with a laugh. “My grandfather has had a couple of broodmares around as part of his retirement project, so he and I kind of kick-started things here on our farm after I attended the youth camp. Ever since then, we’ve just continued to grow, slowly, but surely, getting involved in the horse racing industry, overall just building our broodmares.
“We currently have four broodmares at home here,” continued Lago. “I’m working in partnership with my grandfather for the moment, slowly starting to buy into some of them. Buying new mares is the goal for myself over the next couple of years, to expand my own herd and get more involved in the breeding side. I have a passion for it – the genetics – and I want to pursue that.”
His fascination with and appreciation for standardbreds continues to grow.
It’s what eventually drew Lago to Equine Guelph, specifically, the vast array of online educational courses that are offered. He applied for and won the Stuart Stocks Memorial Tuition Award (Equine Guelph Tuition Awards
) through Equine Guelph in 2016.
“I was thrilled to be chosen,” he said. “I knew there was some tough competition. I think education within the industry will continue to grow. It’s extremely important.”
His association with Equine Guelph turned out to be twice as nice one year later.
Lago, who was part of the 2016 Wannadrive team, a Hands on Horses Program, also received two online courses through Equine Guelph (valued at $549 each) after being selected as the recipient of the inaugural Roger L’Heureux Award in 2017. Certificates were available in Equine Science, Equine Welfare and Equine Business.
“Getting to take the Equine Genetics and Equine Exercise Physiology in 2017 was an amazing experience,” said Lago, who is set to take the Health & Disease course out of the University of Guelph this May. “My main motive behind it all was to gain more experience. Horses, at one point, they were an unknown to me. I was going to Agricultural school (Business and Livestock Production) at the time in Olds, Alberta. There wasn’t much focus on racehorses, of course, so I wanted to further my education in that, so by taking these courses through Guelph, it’s really helped me in so many ways and helped me increase my knowledge of racehorses. It’s opened a lot of doors.”
He’s hoping other young people get the same opportunities.
“I want to keep giving to this industry to the fullest extent,” offered Lago. “By doing interviews, talking to people, it’s just tremendous because it really shows off the sport. Any positive publicity that harness racing can get is great. The sport has a lot of room for growth and I believe there are a lot of positive outlooks for the industry.”
An industry that Lago believes offers a little bit of everything, with the exception of tedium.
Why would he encourage people to consider a horseracing life?
“I would say it’s thrilling, that you’re always doing something new every day and you never know what your day will be like,” said Lago. “When you go into a barn, someone always has a story and someone always teaches you something. Working with the equine athletes is something in itself. I’ve really come to appreciate them even more after taking these Guelph courses. It’s fueled my passion even more. To work with them every day, it’s a privilege. You get hooked.
“I would encourage anyone to apply with Equine Guelph because there is so much to learn about these amazing athletes. They’re very complex animals, so to better care for them and understand them is so important. Whether they are racing or they’re a broodmare, they all have a purpose. I would highly encourage anyone to get connected with Equine Guelph and Ontario Racing. There’s a lot to learn from one another.”
Cameron Lago would certainly know.
* Photos by Yash Sinhasan