Palm Meadows Training Center is one of horse racing’s hidden gems. Nestled in Boynton Beach, Fla., a sleepy enclave located about 30 minutes north of Miami, the Thoroughbred facility is a veritable horsey paradise. I was lucky enough to talk to some seriously talented trainers there this morning (I’m talking Kentucky Derby-winning trainers Barclay Tagg and Michael Matz) and literally every single person said that Palm Meadows is a place that makes horses happy.
Which makes total sense: I mean, the place is huge, it’s totally quiet, there are small paddocks (called round pens) for the horses to play in, and it’s in Florida so you can go outside in the winter without turning into a popsicle. It’s heaven. I think I summarized it pretty well in this tweet:
When I arrived at Palm Meadows this morning, the sun was rising and horses were getting their exercise on the main dirt track. I love going to watch horses training: despite the fact that there are sometimes hundreds of Thoroughbreds going to and from the track at a time, there’s a sense of serenity that always pervades the morning hours. If you live anywhere near a racetrack or training center and have a functioning alarm clock, I highly recommend checking it out.
The great thing about Palm Meadows is that it’s an intrinsically happy place: everywhere you look, people are smiling, horses have their ears pricked forward and it’s just downright pleasant. The thing is, you can’t help but be in a good mood here; for heaven’s sake, this morning I stepped on a coconut and it’s the middle of January. That’s freaking awesome.
I mean, you know you’re in a great place when the people who live and work here day-in and day-out have big smiles on their faces and stop to admire the day.
Another reason to love Palm Meadows? The food! (If you’ve read my blog before you knew that was coming. I really, really love food and will take any opportunity to work it into a story.) I mean, check out the deliciousness offered here; and EVERYTHING comes with fries. That’s the way to live life, people.
In addition to its main dirt track, Palm Meadows has a grass course that’s actually double as wide as most racetracks’ turf courses. They let horses exercise on it five days a week, and you can tell that the trainers who work at Palm Meadows really appreciate the opportunity to school their horses over the lawn. The horses seem to enjoy it, too!
There are even nifty viewing stands stationed around the track so that trainers, owners and various horse people can watch the action on the oval.
The barn area is also really beautiful here. The stalls are light and open, so horses can see what’s going on around them while enjoying the fresh air. There are huge trees everywhere, providing shade on warm afternoons as well as giving the place a very pretty backdrop.
Horses who have finished exercising for the day get a bath and then are hand-walked around by their grooms until they’re completely cooled out and dry. Side note: I need to be reincarnated as a racehorse at Palm Meadows because I love bubble baths and I already often wander around in circles.
Meanwhile, all of the tack (the saddles and bridles the horses wear when they’re working out) gets cleaned and polished for the next day. This is important for two reasons: obviously clean leather is much more pleasant to be around, but also daily cleanings are a way to ensure that the equipment is in perfect working order, which can prevent accidents. I have to say, when I was working with horses, cleaning tack was one of my favorite things to do – saddle soap smells so good! I absolutely hate housework, but barn chores are pretty swell in my book.
This guy below caught my eye for a few reasons: 1) he’s absolutely freaking adorable, and 2) he’s clearly a super laid-back pony horse. (A pony horse, by the way, is a critter whose job it is to escort racehorses around the track and keep them calm in the process. They are very, very important and have to have super mellow personalities.)
I mean, seriously:
Pony horse peek-a-book at Palm Meadows, y'all. I wanted to steal him, but rustling horses is a hangin' offense in FL. pic.twitter.com/nSo6GA6VYB— Penelope P. Miller (@HeadRacingTwit) January 16, 2014
And remember those round pens I was telling you about at the beginning of this blog? This is what they look like:
Beautiful. Like I said, Palm Meadows is an equine heaven on Earth, and I absolutely love it here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a tour of Palm Meadows with me. Thanks for stopping by!