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When the Horses are Back, It's a Good Thing in Pulaski County | Community Spirit

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When the Horses are Back, It's a Good Thing in Pulaski County
When the Horses are Back, It's a Good Thing in Pulaski County

Winston Churchill once said,There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.Rollie Brunswell, 74, of Hawkinsville, couldn't agree more. A Wisconsin native, Brunswell settled in Pulaski County more than a year ago, along with his wife, Carol.

And it is because of a horsewell, several horses, that they did, and, of course, the Lawrence L. Bennett Harness Horse Training Facility at 290 Abbeville Highway in Hawkinsville.

Brunsell, who began racing and training horses around 1955, hadheard about this place, and thought it might be good to visit. Someone from here came up to our horse training organization and gave a presentation about harness racing here.

The father of two, Susan, a doctor in Washington, DC, and Scott, a cardiac nurse in Madison, Wisconsin, Brunsell said,They planted a seed, and we thought someday we would come down.

When someday came, Brunsell and his wife had a camper RV set up in Hawkinsville for almost two years, and then they got acquainted with the community.My wife decided we were doing this backwards, so we bought a house, and settled in.

Brunsell currently has one horse in the stables, BonnyNGlide, and had just moved two of his horses up north for racing. A former dairy farmer who graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Brunsell did a stint in agriculture sales, and before he fully retired, he was amanager for a horse farm for a wealthy industrialistin the north, and he said,that was the best of the best, the major league.
There was something though about being in Hawkinsville that Brunsell just couldn't explain.Horse people are pretty much carefree type of people. If their horse is winning, they will be on top of the world, and it the horse isn't earning anything, it doesn't bother them. They think that there is potential in every horse.

Smiling, Brunsell said,Horse people are eternal optimists.

Though he spends most of his time now, training the horses, Brunsell was an active racer himself for many years.I had been showing horses, and I remember, there was a judge whose opinion I didn't agree with, and I thought, you know, maybe racing is the route to gothe win isn't based on an opinion.Brunsell smiled.

I get a real pleasure training a horse on the trackit is exciting to watch a baby as it progresses in learning,he added. Brunsell spends about two hours a day in training.I come out in the morning and in the afternoons.

Dan Ater, a Clarksberg, Ohio native, is the manager of the Hawkinsville facility and couldn't be happier. He comes from a traditional horse family. His grandfather and dad trained and raced horses, and now his son is joining Ater in the business.I have been doing this all of my life.

As a racer, Ater won titles at Lebanon Raceway, Scioto Downs, Northfield Park and Balmoral Park. The Aters have 14 of their own horses at the track.

In his second year as manager of the Hawkinsville track, Ater has brought some changes, which included reconditioning both one mile red clay outer track, and the an inside half mile track. The center is open from November to Mayracing season. And this year, Ater said, there are about165 horses on site from all over.He said there are horses and trainers from Canada, Michigan, New York and many more areas.

We really want to pick up some more new people, and this year, we have about four or five new faces. People in Hawkinsville really treat us well when we come town. There is nothing like the hospitality of Hawkinsville,Ater said.

Hawkinsville has become known as theHarness Horse Capitolof Georgia, and has been the home during the winter for harness horse training since the early 1920s. The first official harness race in Hawkinsville was reported to have been held in 1894 at the Pulaski County Fair.

Dr. W.R. Baker, local veterinarian, said that there is nothing like being around a horse, according to Baker, youcan spend a life time learning about them and still be surprised by them.

He and his wife, Jennifer, specialize in the care of horses and have a business right outside of Hawkinsville. A familiar face at the track, Baker spends a lot of time with the horses and trainers treating ailments, though many do bring their horses out to the Bakers' place.

Brunsell said,It is pretty easy to just carry the horses out there.

Horse racing and training can get to be quite expensive,Brunsell said, and added,I am not a wealthy manI just stay within my means.

Baker did add that having the facility in Hawkinsville is a plus for the economy of Hawkinsville.The people come here, they buy locally, they stay in the hotels, buy houses, rent, eat here ...

Brunsell agreed,A group of us went out to the Horseshoe Restaurant the other nightwe get our hay locally.

Hawkinsville, according to Brunsell,is the everyman's facility.

Ater couldn't agree more.The community does make extra efforts to keep the people who come here comfortable, and it is very pleasing.

And the weather does help.The weather, even during the winter, is ideal for training the horses,Ater said.

Brunsell saidwhen the horses come back,it is a good thing.

For more information about the training facility contact Ater at (614) 554-2154.

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