I grew up riding Shetlands, trying to live up to the reputation of father Howard Harvison (born in 1927). He was quite a cowboy. He was very competitive and successfull riding bucking bulls and race horses (on the brush tracks of Oklahoma).
He bought my first Quarter Horse for me in about 1966. Being 12 at the time, I didn't know much else to do but to ride her to friends' houses to visit. She was my main means of transportation. In 1969 She delivered a filly who turned out to be the start of my "Race Horse Fever". Her name was Cest' Dommage. As I was told by my ninth grade French teacher, that meant "Ain't it a pitty, or Bad Luck". That was all due to the fact that this filly was cut up and scratched up everywhere you could touch.
Being from a racing background and recognizing that she had potential, Dad encouraged me to train her to race. By that time I had been breaking horses for other people and was excercising race horses for other people. We sent her to a race trainer who initially gave us very good reports but then backed off and said we should quit her. I told Dad that I really thought this filly could run.
He was working out of state but agreed to "tutor" me over the phone. I continued to prepare her for racing. Come race time, she excelled. Not so much because of training, but perhaps in spite of the training she was receiving. Seems the really good ones always find a way to show their talent.
At that time I was a junior in high school, training my own race horse, winning races on the very tough brush tracks in Oklahoma (before parimutual) against professional trainers. I was hooked! We raced at Midway Downs (Stroud), Blue Ribbon Downs (Sallisaw), Garfield Downs (Enid) and every minor league track in between, but we always finished well. That pace continued on through my college days at Ada Oklahoma. There, I stabled at "Echo Valley Ranch", in Ada. I was blessed to meet Carl Mercer (the originator of the All American Futurity).
While attending college in Ada, my mare Ces't Dommage (who only had an official Speed Index of 81) won 19 of 21 races. She earned the respect of the locals as "Carl's big mare" even though she only stood 14-2. Yes, that got me hooked.
Life dealt me a long period of hard times. Perhaps much of the hard times was due my own bad choices. I was no longer able to afford to race at a level that I wanted to. In fact, I was absent from the race scene for many years, but now, I'm back with a committment to produce race horses with a license to succed, but with a back-up plan just in case.
-Leonard Harvison, Owner