When Aaron Hall was 13 years old, he wanted to be a horse racing announcer. He’d spent so much time watching races from the announcer’s booth at Scarborough Downs that his young brain was already packed with racing history. He’d also grown up watching his dad, Craig, train harness racing horses at the family’s farm in Maine, so he knew a thing or two about the sport.
“I’m 27 years old and my dad trained horses since he was 18, so I was brought up in it,” Aaron says. “I fell in love with the harness racing and the horses, started driving them when I was 16 and never looked back.”
There are roughly 15-20 horses at Hall Stable in Gardiner, Maine at any given time; more than half are race horses kept by Aaron and his two brothers. And he says all of them share the same, tried-and-true Blue Seal feed, which Craig Hall has relied on for 35 years.
“We grew up feeding Blue Seal and our horses always look really good and perform really well,” Aaron says. “Dynasty Event is the primary grain we go to. It’s the go-to race horse feed for us.”
He says they never worry when they bring in a new horse and the previous owner warns that it isn’t a good eater.
“We’ve had owners say, ‘Good luck getting this one to eat,’ and then a few months later they look like they should be in a magazine,” Aaron says. “They’re just beautiful, diving into the tubs, looking like a million bucks.”
Aaron, who recently became an ambassador for Blue Seal Feeds, drives in hundreds of harness races a year in the Maine circuit between April and December, and counts 50-60 of them as wins this year. Harness racing requires a unique level of strategy, he says, because of the high speeds, tight corners and the competition with seven other horses at a time.
“But it’s also dealing with an animal – it’s not like a car with a pedal,” Aaron says. “You have to have a relationship with the horse. They’re listening to you, but they’re also talking to you – giving you clues about how they want the race to go, too. There’s always a new challenge with every race.”
Even while earning his business degree at the University of Maine at Augusta, Aaron chose to forgo the traditional college experience in order to stay home and continue his training. He says he never considered moving to a dorm because he had a full stable of horses that needed attention – and a business to help run.
“There were many days I’d be studying or doing class work outside on the farm, on the hood of my car, or just wherever I needed to be at the time for the business,” Aaron says with a laugh. “It was definitely different. But it resulted in getting a degree that I can really put to good use in my life now.”
Aaron lives with his wife, Josie, in one of three houses on his family’s 50-acre farm in Gardiner, Maine. His dad, Craig, and his grandmother live in the other two. He and Josie have one yellow lab named Bentley, who likes to keep the horses in line and “rule the roost.”