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Horses Battle Heat at Race Park

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Over at the North Dakota Horse Park,

trainers are battling the heat.

They say it's a nearly round the clock struggle to keep their horses cool when the heat and humidity gets this high.

Training a beautiful race horse like this is truly a labor of love and nothing is off the table when it comes to keeping them cool on race day.

With the heat we're going to be dealing with, dangerous temperatures," says race horse owner and trainer Lexon Backhaus.

The most important training 101 task, keeping them hydrated.

"Just like an athlete. You want a cold drink when you get done doing something or before you want to go for a run you want a cold drink. When you come back what do you want? A cold shower. Same for them. They're athletes just like us," says Backhaus.

24 year old Lexon Backhaus has been working with horses since he could walk and talk. He co-owns and trains 15 racers currently at the park. Backhaus says in order for them to perform,

"You gotta keep them cool somehow, you know. If you got to go get ice to put on their legs or put in their water bucket to keep them cool, you gotta do it," says Backhaus.

Which is sometimes a 5am till 1 am sacrifice.

For the horses, the athlete analogy is spot on when preparing for a race, even using massage therapy as a means to calm them before the big sprint, or applying chemicals as a means to stay cool.

"Menthol wash or a liniment wash just keep the blood flowing, a lot of blood flowing is a lot of cooling.

Potassium. We've got a couple of mixes that we've tried they work real well. We mix them with some water, it's kind of like a gatorade mix for them," says Backhaus.

Like an athlete, they need their moments of zen to mentally prepare for victory

"Quiet, gotta keep them quiet. Gotta keep the shed real quiet. Not a whole lot of activity," says Backhaus.

And like a human, fans work pretty well too.

About 70 horses in 8 races braved the heat today at the track.

Brian Abel
Brian joined WDAZ in October of 2014, after reporting and anchoring at WDAY in Fargo since October 2013. He currently co-anchors the 6 and 10pm WDAZ News weekdays, and co-anchors the Saturday 6 and 10pm WDAY/WDAZ simulcast news. He was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. Brian has traveled across the country as a spokesperson for the automotive industry. He has also lived in Los Angeles, working in entertainment before pursuing his career in broadcasting. It’s experiences like these that give him a unique perspective when reporting. Brian is a Michigan Wolverines fan with an avid interest in politics and golf.  He is thrilled to be sharing stories with the Greater Grand Forks community working at WDAZ and looks forward to hearing any of your comments, concerns and story ideas.