By Christina Bossinakis
The TDN kicks off 'Let's Talk'–a new podcast series featuring TDN's Christina Bossinakis and TVG's on-air analyst Gabby Gaudet. The series offers candid discussion on personal, and sometimes difficult, topics that are often uncomfortable for many to speak about in an open forum.
The inaugural edition presents a trio of successful horsewomen who have made a name for themselves in the game, while simultaneously starting and raising families–TVG Host and Racing Analyst Christina Blacker; principal partner in BSW/Crow Bloodstock and co-owner of Elite Sales Liz Crow; and Anna Seitz Ciannello, Fasig-Tipton's client development and public relations manager.
Long considered a male-dominated industry, horse racing has seen that change through recent times. In fact, many of the sport's highest offices are now occupied by women, and while that is certainly something to celebrate, it all poses challenges to those that aim to have a dynamic career while still trying to start and build a family.
“Both of my sisters don't work, and they stay at home with their children and my mother did not work when we were growing up. I'm the first woman in my immediate family to have a career, and it's definitely been trying,” offered Seitz, who cut her teeth at her family's Brookdale Farm in Versailles, Kentucky growing up and later spent several years as a member of Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher's team. “I didn't really know where I fit in. I love being a mom but I also love working. When the kids are really little, it's hard and you feel like something has to give in your career because you can't do everything. You can't be super focused at work when you haven't slept.”
And while 'having babies' is a tale as old as time, many women still find themselves put under an increased scrutiny and all to often face judgement for trying to 'have it all.'
“I always say our industry is a little behind the rest of the world,” said recent first-time mother, Liz Crow. “I feel like in this next generation, there are a lot more women coming up through the ranks right now so I think having a kid will be a little more normalized.”
There is no doubt that the hurdles can be high, and sometimes precarious, for many women trying to find the delicate balance of having a family and continuing to pursue their dreams in racing, however, women continue to do what they have done throughout history, finding the path that works best for them and for their own individual lifestyle and family.
“Having kids was always a non-negotiable,” asserted Blacker, also a mother of three daughters. “I was going to be a mother. Children and being a mom [has always been] one of my major goals in life. And it's never perfect–it's not easy. I cry about it all the time because I feel like I'm failing at something. I either end the day and feel like I've been a great mom or I've been a really good employee. Sometimes I feel like I've done both.”
And despite many of the challenges faced by women in the industry along the way, women continue to forge a way to create a profitable career while simultaneously offering their families stable and nurturing environments to flourish.
“The horse business is such a family…everybody does just really pitch in and help out,” added Blacker. “As hard as it is with the travel, I cry when the plane takes off every time, and you also can't get rid of that morbid fear of what if something happens now and now I'm going on this trip. But once they can start coming with you, it's something that a lot of other kids can't experience. People can't take their children into the office but our office is so exciting. They can be there and participate and watch and enjoy what we do as much as we do.”
To listen to the audio only version of 'Let's Talk,' click here.