ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) - Horse racing brings in more than $400-million into New Mexico's economy every year a nd now the champions of tomorrow are being born today, sometimes as many as seven a day.
From the point these horses take their first breath, to the point when they're ready to take on the track, Susan Hunter is there. She's what some call a mid-wife for race horses.
"It's a really cool thing to get to be that much in their life when they're growing up," said Hunter. Her place in Roswell, Hunter Creek Farms, has about 140 horses, with 95-percent being race horses, bred for the track.
Up to 150 horses are delivered at Hunter's farm each year from January until June, when up to seven are born in one day.
"It is so amazing, I've done over 13-hundred and it's still the coolest thing I've ever, every baby is still just like the very first time," explained Hunter.
Pregnancy for horses can last around 11 months, and Hunter said each one of these mares on her farm are ready to have their baby any minute, which is why she keeps a close eye on them.
"I have 24 cameras around in the barn, in the pens outside the barn, so I can watch the mares constantly, even if I'm not out there with them," Hunter said.
She even has an over-night watchman. And when she doesn't have a watchman, she'll sometimes put collars on their necks that will automatically call her cell phone when the horse lays on the ground for 30 seconds, signaling its ready to give birth.
Since she offers 24-hour care, with a vet minutes away, Hunter gets many high risk cases. "So every time a mare goes into labor, I just still get so nervous you know, and it's just the coolest thing when they take that first little breath and you know it's going to be okay" Hunter explained.
Horses she has are bred all over the state, and owners bring them to her to have their babies. Many of those horses will stay there for two years until they're ready for the track.
Hunter said the best part of her job is watching them take their first breath, "you cannot have a bad day and go look in that little newborn face you just cant," Hunter said, smiling.
She said she also loves following their careers, and gets emotional when they race. "I go watch them race every time and every time one wins you'd think it was mine because it is, it is mine," she said.
New Mexico offers incentives for race horses bred in the state. On top of the purse for the winning horse and its owner, the owner of the breeding horse gets $1,000 each win.
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