Most sixteen-year-olds don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Pierce Henry, from Leipsic, is an exception. He is absolutely certain he wants to be a harness racing driver.
Henry, who will be a junior at Leipsic High School, said being a driver is in his blood. His grandfather, Dennis Henry, who passed away before Pierce was born, was a driver. Pierce and his father, Darren, went to races together.
Darren often brought his son to the Putnam County Fairgrounds horse barns, where they met Lee Newcomer. Newcomer, a horse owner from McComb, soon put young Henry to work. That was four years ago.
Henry is responsible for eleven horses. Every day, rain, shine or snow, he is at the horse barns. He feeds the animals, ensures they are healthy and sound, jogs them around the track, and then sprays them down. During the school year, Henry, who also plays baseball, sometimes doesn’t get home until 10:30 at night. He never takes a break, and even sacrificed going on a family vacation this year.
At this year’s Putnam County Fair, Henry drove in his first four professional races. He placed second, third, and fifth (twice).
“It’s a thrill to sit behind a 1,000 pound animal,” Henry described. “I get to work with incredible animals. They’re just like human beings, but they have four legs and are a lot bigger! Each one has its own personality.”
Henry has learned to make split-second decisions. “It doesn’t take much for a horse to go down,” he explained. “I haven’t gone down yet, but my time will come.”
Newcomer is thrilled to mentor the teen, as more young people are needed in the sport. “I’ve got a young boy who’s interested and works hard. He’s got the desire, natural talent, and ability. You don’t teach that,” Newcomer commented.
Henry will be racing in numerous county fairs this summer, nearly every weekend. He also warms up Newcomer’s horses at Raceway Park, in Toledo.
Henry concluded, “I’ve always liked horses. The bug bites you, and you can’t get rid of it. It’s what keeps me coming back every day. Driving is really what I want to do. If that doesn’t work out, I will train.”
Leipsic teen enjoys harness racing