Last weekend Alisa and Elias and I went out to Rocklea Showground to watch "the trots". The central rule of harness racing is that the horses must trot, and cannot gallop - a throwback to the days when the horse and buggy was a standard way of getting around, and horses pulling buggies trotted instead of galloping.
The races were a family deal - here is my cousin Scrubber in the third race. Notice the distressing lack of competitors to the rear. They have dropped him like a bad habit. Things went better in the second race, when Scrubber came from way back to finish third.
In between the "real" races they hold pony trots for kids 16 and under. My cousin Debbie's three girls all raced. Here is Danielle.
And here is Jade, with her second-place trophy.
Harness racing is a big family tradition for the Litzows. Scrubber wears the colors that my Grandad wore when he raced in Queensland in the 1920s and 1930s. The family story has it that my Grandad picked up some of his considerable horse knowledge from a member of the gang that ran with Ned Kelley, Australia's famous bushranger ("outlaw" in American). My uncle Darryll kept the harness racing bug going, and so have his kids. Great for me to see them in action. The trots are also very much a throwback to a different era, when Australia was a rural nation. Rocklea Showground is a former bit of country now surrounded by the sprawl of Brisbane. And the Showground that used to be heaving with spectators twenty years ago is now 3/4 empty, as people prefer to watch on TV and bet from home...