People Profile

Erin McCleary with Excellent Nation

Erin McCleary People Profile: Erin McCleary – Nicknames & Nickers

We spend a lot of time talking about our horses in But every few weeks, we profile a person involved in our business. Here’s our first installment with Erin McCleary.

They know the familiar hum of her car, the gait of her walk and the sound of her voice. And make no mistake: while they may appreciate the clients who pay their bills and the grooms and trainers who care for them daily, between 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., the Dinner Lady is the apple of their eye.

Erin McCleary has an affable personality and a twinkle in her eye to which the horses (and people) naturally respond. But she knows the true power she wields. “The way to a horse’s heart is definitely through the stomach, she concedes.”

Their appetite is a barometer of their overall health, and while her primary job is to ensure every horse gets fed, her spot check of every horse in the barn during dinner is the final measure of the day to ensure all is well with the horses of

Erin has owned and cared for horses for 16 years. She has worked for for the past three years as the nighttime feeder. Aside from Christmas and the occasional sick day, she’s on the job. The task takes two to three hours, depending on the number of horses in the barn, which can swell to 150.

When new yearlings join each fall, she immediately starts sussing out their nicknames which are often reflective of their personalities. She has one for every horse (see the current list at the end of this story.)

The horses eat three meals a day, each consisting of high protein grain and hay cubes.

Some of them are very demonstrative. “I get a real kick out of Urs Ifu Want It. He takes a big mouthful of feed, tilts his head back and looks me right in the eye as if to say: ‘Oh my God, Erin, this tastes soooooo good!’”

Like several of team members, Erin also owns a few shares of her favourite horses, including Spend That Money. Hard-pressed to name favourites she offers Brushcut, Tymal Kazzam, Jailhouse Master and the spunky Ti Amo Hanover, but insists she appreciates the individual traits of each one. She feels a special connection with them all.

“I love this job,” she says. “Being the last one to feed them each day, I get to know the horses on a different level. Obviously, they share a special connection with their caretakers, but this is a different kind of bond.

“I’m usually alone with them at night. It’s just them and me.”

Her favourite part of each night comes at the end.

“When I come into the barn they’re all clamouring for my attention; noisy, nickering, playful, inquisitive. And once they’re all fed, I love to stand by the door and just listen for a moment. All you hear is the sound of them all munching in unison. It’s a very therapeutic sound.

“For me, it’s the sound of happy.”

Here’s Erin’s list of nicknames for the current horses of

Alesund – Alesy
Anteros – Ante Ant
Arctic Force – Arty
Arvika – Arvi
Beach Boutique – Boo
Beach Bum BB – Little Bum
Ben Dover – Ben Jammin
Bottle Of Red – Rouge
Brushcut – Broosh (usually said in a funny accent)
Buckingham – B
Cabernet – Nutsy
Canadian Titan – Hot Lips
Capistrano – Capeesh
Casanova’s Jewel – Cassy
Cheatin Dixie – Dixie Doo
Classic Con – Connie
Compass Rose DC – Rosie
Crazy Mission – Crazy (‘cus he is!)
Cruisin With Angus – Gus
Cruising In Style – Cruiser Bruiser
Delcrest Starangel – Della
Deweyann – Dewanne
Dontblvmejustwatch – Peanut
Emerald Miss – Miss Moo
Enduring Strength – Ernie
Excellent Nation – Nate
Final Answer – Finn
First Glance – the Grey
Forged In Fire – Forgey
Fox Valley Shazam – Foxy Brown
Frontier Cruise – The Big Cruise
Fusspot – Foos
Giddy Up Max – Maxy
Globetrotting – Goober
Harness Am – Hannah
Havana Ooh Nana – Havana Banana
Hometown Boyz – Homie/Homer
Ill Play It Alone – Little Red
In Land Beach – Moose
Ivanka – Vanki
Jailhouse Master – Little Jim
Johann – Jo (like YO – in an accent)
Just a Tad – Tadler, Taddy
Just For Me Nu – Meenu
Knockdown Dragout – Katie
Libero Hanover – Libby
Lincoln James – Linc, Big grump
Macpherson Thunder – MacBitey
Maintenance Man – Jake, Jakers
Master Saver – Moo
Ms Brampton Beast – Beasty
Ms Mischief Maker – Mischief
Muscle Chrome – Chromey
Nancy Allison – Nan
Need Ur Opinion – Opi
Notnangel – Ang
Oh So Pine – Piner
Olympic Hopeful – Hopey
Overdue Mission – Missy
Path Of Totality – Little Poe
Really Blue Chip – Real
Road Tripper – Trip
Rooney Blue Chip – Roon
Rose Run Valiant – Val
Rose Run Versatile – Versailles
Screaming Hawk – Hawk-a-doo
Sebastian U – Sea Bass
See You In Tuscany – Tucan
Somtimsthingshapen – Stix
Spend That Money – Mo
Spirit Of Deo – Deo
Stolen Dance – Babes
Stonebridge Symba – Symbie
Sunshine Inn – Shunshine
Sunshine N Shade – Shadey
Sunshines Finest – Fine
SusieK – Susie
Ti Amo Hanover – Lover
Trafalgar – Tee
Tymal Dazzle – Dazz
Tymal Houdini – Houdi
Tymal Kazzam – Kazzy Kaz, the big boy
Tymal Tullo – Tullogator
Urs Ifu Want It – Wally
Utopian – Toby
Warrawee Ultra – Ully
Watch Ave – Watchinator
Westfiftysecond – Westy
White Tiger – Le Tigre
Wiggle Delight – Wiggy Wig
Will Power Fashion – Willy
Yes – Yes Sir
Zebs Sunshine – Zebby, Zebadoo