“People think of it as a hobby, so naturally a lot of people don’t really understand,” said Bill Chastain, a trainer who’s training 20 horses to compete in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “It’s just a very stressful part of your life that you will miss.”
Chastain, 61, uses a horse trainer’s training method—training horses to go fast and slow—to train his six horses for the parade, which he calls his “sport.” There’s never a dull moment, and Chastain gets to see the horses struggle.
“It’s not something that you see a lot of people do,” he said. “Once you train your horse, it’s really hard to stop him.”
His horses are on a private track that’s run by a friend and former coach of Boston Celtics legend John Havlicek. Chastain trains them in the middle of the night, so when things go awry he quickly has other horses ready—some two years old, and many with a lot of experience in the sport.
“I really enjoy that,” said Chastain, who has coached professional horses his entire adult life, including a former professional horse trainer. “It’s the best job I ever had, and I haven’t had one bad day.”
To earn the $150,000 prize purse of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Chastain’s horse trains must earn a certain number of entries. The best horse in each parade qualifies for $100,000 in prize money.
“You have to earn your prize money,” said Chastain, who has been training horses for over 30 years.
The horse training is extremely stressful because they’re racing to win the prize, he said.
“And when it’s all over, we just put the horses out on the parade ground and they’re just riding around,” Chastain said.
But Chastain says he’d never miss a parade, and the horse racing is just one of his passions.
“The rest of my life is just horse racing,” Chastain said.
Chastain, a lifelong Boston sports fan, is married with a teenage son, who loves sports as much as he does. He’s never missed a Boston Red Sox playoff game or game of basketball. He can’t believe he’s working out so many hours to bring the parade to City Hall—after so many years
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