2019 Wanna Drive a Racehorse Schedule

We’re back and ready to make the summer of 2019 a memorable one for you,  your family and friends. Come visit us at your local racetrack for a chance to take a ride behind one of our gorgeous standardbreds!

June 23rd Dresden Raceway -Dresden Ontario

June 29th Hanover Raceway -Hanover Ontario

July 6th Kawartha Downs -Near Peterborough Ontario

July 20th Kingston Horse Event -Kingston Ontario

August 3rd Kawartha Downs -Near Peterborough Ontario

August 17th Kawartha Downs -Near Peterborough Ontario

August 24th Kawartha Downs -Near Peterborough Ontario

August 25th Clinton Raceway -Clinton Raceway

September 1st Lakeshore Raceway -Leamington Ontario

September 7th Lansdowne Horse Festival -Lansdowne Ontario

September 21st Kawartha Downs -Near Peterborough Ontario

October 4th The Raceway at the Western Fair District -London Ontario

Follow us on Facebook “Hands On Horses Program” and on Instagram Handsonhorsesprogram for updates and reminders of events near you.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

400+ drive a racehorse during Open House at Grand River Raceway

ELORA — Grand River Raceway hosted more than 400 guests at its 10th annual backstretch Open House on Sunday, May 27. Guests were treated to a rare glimpse of horse racing behind-the-scenes.


The full tour of the Open House’s seven stations included the unique opportunity to drive a racehorse.


Admission was free, but participants made donations totaling $300 at the door to support local organizations which aid in the retraining and placement of retired racehorses into new riding and driving careers.

Other interactive stations included a tour of the judges’ stand and announcer’s booth, a mare and foal, horse themed crafts and face painting, and photos in the starting car.


Members of Racing Under Saddle Ontario were onsite to demonstrate the versatility of the Standardbred racehorse in different disciplines.


Representatives from the Youth Literary Derby chatted with kids and parents about their horse-themed writing contest designed to engage Ontario-resident youngsters in Grades 5 through 8.


The Grand River Raceway Open House is presented in cooperation with the Hands On Horses Program and the Ontario Harness Horse Association.

Grand River Raceway extends it appreciation to all of the associations and volunteers who assisted with this event.

More than 3,500 people have attended Grand River Raceway’s Open House events over the past ten years.


Grand River Raceway’s live racing season opens this Friday at 6:30 p.m. and continues most Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights all summer.


• Photos from the Open House (by Nicole Schnurr):


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2017 Wanna Drive Schedule

Here is the 2017 Wanna Drive dates so far! We would be honoured if you’d add the Wanna Drive program to your summer fun agenda.

Sept 1st Grand River Raceway Wanna Drives

August 20th Clinton Raceway

September 9th Hiawatha Horse Park in Sarnia

September 3rd and Sept 24th Lakeshore Raceway (Leamington Ontario)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Upcoming Boxing Day Wanna Drive

Join us for your chance to drive a racehorse on Monday December 26th at the Raceway at the Western Fair District!

Post time is 1:05PM

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2016 Hands On Horses Events

Join us at any of the following events for your chance to drive a racehorse and enjoy live harness racing. All of our events are free of charge and open to individuals of all ages.

July17th Dresden Raceway -Dresden -Wanna Drive

July 23rd Hanover Raceway -Wanna Drive

July 30th Kawartha Downs -Peterborough- Wanna Drive

August 5th Grand River Raceway -Elora -Wanna Drive

August 6th Hiawatha Horse Park -Sarnia -Wanna Drive

August 7th Lakeshore Raceway -Leamington -Wanna Drive

August 14th Clinton Raceway -Family Day at the Racetrack -Wanna Drive

August 27th Georgian Downs -Innisfil -Wanna Drive

September 2nd Grand River Raceway -Elora -Wanna Drive

September 11th Lakeshore Raceway -Leamington -Media Race

October 1st Kawartha Downs -Peterborough -Wanna Drive

The Hands on Horses Program will also be part of the REACH Huron Kids Horse Camp on July 8th, 15th and 22nd visit http://reachhuron.ca/for more information

Check back more events to be announced!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Nation School Kids Get to Horse Around

This past Saturday the Hands on Horse Program, an initiative of the Ontario Harness Horse Association, visited the residents of the Neyaashiinigmiing Reserve near Wiarton, Ontario. The Chippewas of Nawash Health Centre  hosted a meet and greet with three retired racehorses at Kikendaasogamig Elementary School.

Harry, a retired standardbred, interacted with over 40 first nations children and their parents. The residents were given the chance to interact with Harry and two retired thoroughbreds, Metonella and Bryn Mary provided by Lois Keays, owner of Hales Farm and founder of Ontario Retired Racehorse Program (ORRP). Paint was supplied to allow the children to paint the horses with their handprints and Harry geared up in cart and harness to take over 40 residents for a ride around the school’s track and field oval.

“The first nations people have experienced much generational trauma and talk therapy does not always work, this [interaction with horses] is a good, alternative healing therapy,” said Yvonne Corbiere, Manager of the Chippewas of Nawash Health Centre. “Indigenous populations around the world have a special healing relationship with horses, and a program like this is important to work to rebuild this relationship.”

“Today was wonderful to have these kids come and experience horses,” said Keays. “First Nations people are traditionally attuned to animal connections.  Animals are depicted in dance, spirit guides and totems.  With limited access, the value of these connections has been somewhat lost.”

This event was the initial introduction for a much larger project. Eventually a program will be developed to support 9 kids ages 8-13 who have been assessed as needing increased emotional support. These kids will be involved with horses on an ongoing basis as part of an alternative equine therapy program. The kids will learn basic horsemanship skills, responsibility through caring for a horse and emotion regulation skills as emotions are mirrored back to them through interactions with the horses.

“It was a privilege and honour to be part of this event and observe so many young children interacting with horses for the first time,” said Stacey Reinsma Coordinator of the Hands on Horses Program. “What Lois Keays and her team are working to develop captures the healing and therapeutic nature of horses that we sometimes take for granted.”

For photos and more information from the event visit the Hands On Horses Program Facebook page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Across the province we go…

The Hands on Horses Program made stops across the province this weekend. Saturday night Harry and Woody were giving rides in Peterbourgh Ontario at Kawartha Downs for their family fun night and Sunday the program visited Lakeshore Horse Raceway in Leamington Ontario for opening day. As always it was great to see so many smiling fans enjoy a ride behind one of our racehorses.

For more photos from the event visit our Facebook page. Please feel free to like our page and tag and share your photos.

Hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Weekend We Won’t Soon Forget!

The hands on horses program survived brake repairs, windshield wiper repairs in a down pour and tornado warnings to make it to Sarnia and Dresden to give over 80 new fans a ride around the track.

For more photos from the event visit our Facebook page.

Please feel free to like tag and share your photos.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Hands on Horses Summer Event List

Enhance your summer with a hands on horses experience! Join us at any of the following events for your chance to drive a racehorse and enjoy live harness racing. All of our events are free of charge and open to individuals of all ages.

July 17th Grand River Raceway – Elora- Wanna Drive

July 19th Clinton Raceway- Clinton- Wanna Drive – ChildCan Day

July 25th Hiawatha Horse Park – Sarnia- Wanna Drive

July 26th Dresden Raceway – Dresden- Wanna Drive

August 1st Kawartha Downs -Peterborough- Wanna Drive -Family Day at the track

August 2nd Leamington Raceway – Leamington- Wanna Drive

August 8th Georgian Downs -Innisfil (Barrie area) – Wanna Drive

August 23rd Clinton Raceway -Clinton- Wanna Drive -Family Day at the track

September 4th Grand River Raceway -Elora- Wanna Drive

September 6th Leamington Raceway -Leamington -Wanna Drive and Media Race

October 3rd Flamboro Downs – Flamboro – Signiture Card of Racing

October 24th Kawartha Downs- Peterborough -Wanna Drive

Hope to see you there!



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grand River’s Second Annual Media Race

Barry Finn wins second annual Media Race at Grand River Raceway

ELORA, ON ­— Local media celebs swapped headlines for driving lines on Friday night in Grand River Raceway’s second annual Media Race.
Each media personality was paired with a professional driver in a custom two-person jog cart for the half-mile exhibition race.

Barry Finn, the editor at The Rider newspaper was the victor with Spago Hall, swooping out four-wide in the stretch to overcome the leader along the rail, Jaime Myslik and Killean Sweep. Assisted by pro driver Robert Shepherd, Finn finished just a head over the field in a thrilling finish.


“Being that close to the horses … it’s an amazing experience. It was just a wild ride,” said Finn from the winners circle.
Jaime Myslik, a reporter for the Wellington Advertiser was accompanied by Arthur, ON driver Bruce Richardson. The pair drove the veteran of the field, 15-year-old Killean Sweep who finished second.
Gayle O’Brien, Morning Buzz personality on 107.5 Dave FM, was aboard seven-year-old Hollywood Ham. She was accompanied by Paul MacKenzie, who celebrated his 8,000th career driving win on June 3 at Grand River Raceway. The duo finished third.

Rounding out the field was defending champion Kelly Waterhouse. She took home the hardware in last year’s inaugural edition with pro driver Bob McClure and the seven-year-old mare, Echos Black Dress. The News Director for The Grand 92.9 FM, Waterhouse was reunited with her horse and driver for the 2015 edition.

• Video of the Media Race: https://youtu.be/NvNYr2fdv8o
• Photos from the event: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153408819749433.1073741883.21155109432&type=1&l=256db45963


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment