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Standardbred question

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  • Standardbred question

    Hubby is looking at getting into drving and would like to maybe play at combined driving. He has "retired" from eventing due to back problems. Way back a long long time ago he has driven in the past. He grew up in the saddlebred world as a kid and played with draft horses for a while as well.

    He has been looking at rehabbed standardbreds. For several reasons, one of which is to re-home off the track horses to a new job. We have worked with a lot of former racing standardbreds as saddle horses when we lived in SW Va (they were the "poor man's rackin' horse") and found them to be very tolerant, well mannered, level headed horses.

    However, a friend of a friend who does some combined driving is strongly discourging us from going the standardbred route, at least for driving purposes.

    Can anybody share any experiences, input, whatever? PM is fine, if you would rather. We are not talking high level combined driving here. Just a bit of piddling around and having fun at the local fun level. So not wanting to drop a ton of $ into yet another expensive sport (esp since I still event).

    Thanks.

  • #2
    I'm not by any stretch an expert on this, having a scientific study of exactly 1 standardbred. He was rescued by a friend; made an ok riding horse and was very tolerant of different riders. As per your experience as well. That said, the horse was hooked up very occasionally and when he started to pull, he went really fast - that was all he knew to associate with the cart (or sleigh...) Perhaps your friend's friend has seen similar things and perhaps it takes quite a while to undo that thinking; or he may have different reasons.
    We saw in Ohio a lot of standardbreds picked up by the Amish when/if they weren't racing so well. Those also seemed to go down the road at some speed...
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

    Comment


    • #3
      I rehome alot of OTSTB's and what I have found is that if you take them off the track put maybe 30 to 45 days undersaddle on them and then take them back to driving their racing mind doesn't normally kick back in. These horses are jogged miles a day at a nice trotting speed everyday while racing and one that is well broke to drive is going to still be quiet at a "jogging" speed. They are very hearty, tolerant, and will try to do whatever is asked of them. I have had some that you have to push in harness and some that just want to go. Normally it is their personality that determines that. what I have found is if you start them back driving in a bit that isn't the one that they raced in they normally never even associate the two. They are a great breed and I will always have one in my private pasture. They really love to work and most just want to have a job even if that is just tooling around with kids driving/riding. I don't know where exactly you are but from your name you may be not too far outside my area. If you are looking for one in the VA/DC/MD area I may be able to tell you which trainers are better to get pleasure/ non race minds from in your area as I know most of the trainers in that area as they normally come to Colonial Downs in the fall. PM me if you would like assistance.
      Member of the Standardbreds with Saddles Clique!

      Comment


      • #4
        Not what your husband is thinking about, but another fine use for a Standardbred driving horse http://youtu.be/eZql1JdiCM4

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Renae View Post
          Not what your husband is thinking about, but another fine use for a Standardbred driving horse http://youtu.be/eZql1JdiCM4
          You just had to do that to me didn't you. I too grew up in the saddlebred world. Used to work for Merle Murray (many many many yrs ago) It gave me goosebumps!!

          Comment


          • #6
            One of the main difficulties with converting an OTSTB to the sport of combined driving is getting a PACER

            their natural gate is lateral and many of them do not trot

            one third of combined driving is dressage and to correctly perform the dressage test your horse MUST trot

            Some Pacers can change over and trot quite well but some never manage it - it is to bred into them.

            There have been several successful combined driving trotting horses in our area - so no reason not to go for it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Drive NJ View Post
              One of the main difficulties with converting an OTSTB to the sport of combined driving is getting a PACER

              their natural gate is lateral and many of them do not trot

              one third of combined driving is dressage and to correctly perform the dressage test your horse MUST trot

              Some Pacers can change over and trot quite well but some never manage it - it is to bred into them.

              There have been several successful combined driving trotting horses in our area - so no reason not to go for it.
              Can you please come visit the pacers I used to groom and tell them that they are not supposed to trot? It would save their owner (my dear friend) a heck of a lot of agony.

              The pacing thing is blown out of proportion. They trot. They canter. We pull out hair out and go "$&%(ing horse keeps breaking!"

              Without hobbles, many of them will not pace. Freelegged pacers are not all that common. Our pacers were all able to trot very nicely and easily did so undersaddle.

              Of course, your best bet is to avoid pacing all together and to pick up a trotter. But pacers are super fun too.

              ETA: Make sure you get one from a good honest trainer. While many standardbreds jog along happily, some of them will literally try to rip your arms off. Some of horses could be driven by total beginners, others had to have very experienced and very tough drivers. So choose your horse wisely.
              Fit Dog Blog
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              Blog Post: How I Became a Werehorse and a Bit About Bites

              Comment


              • #8
                My STB is a pacer but he always trotted well undersaddle and, with training, canters like a dream. He only paces if he is genuinely afraid of something, so it's kind of a tip-off that he's not just acting stupid.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Never said that Pacers could NOT trot
                  Just that many dont

                  and since it is an issue with Combined trainning - at least for driving
                  that they do the trot in dressage

                  It is something to look at when choosing a horse

                  I have known several people who had a great STB horse but were very frustrated that they would revert to the pace - especially if they were nervous - they just could not enjoy trying combined driving

                  some people wanted to make dressage tests with alternate gaits instead of trots but that just increases the number of classes with very few entries

                  there may still be a couple of show locations that make that an offering because they have a lot of alternate gaited horses (including Pasos, and walkers) but it is not the norm

                  It is very frustrating to try to do a sport when your horse just isnt suited for that sport
                  So be sure to get a horse that is capable of doing all the correct gaits

                  Not saying that isnt a STB or even a pacer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    AND as DNJ1 said...

                    We have known several successful standardbreds in combined driving and pleasure driving - coaching too.

                    They are fun horses and want to work with you. None of the ones we saw in competition were the rip your arms out sort.

                    Just like any horse sport, you find the best individual for what you want to do and work with and through any issues that might come up.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      pacer to trotter

                      As owner and trainer of a pacer I can tell you
                      that even most pacers natural gait is the trot.
                      Free legged our pacer can trot on.The problem
                      of trotting usually arises when the speed gets
                      up to training speed.
                      If you are serious about this horse trotting then
                      there are a few things you might consider.The
                      first is a little off the wall but if you have access
                      to a jogger and harness you could try jogging
                      the horse with trotting hopples.A little radical
                      but it does work.
                      Another area is in shoeing.A heavier shoe behind
                      perhaps a steel flat full swedge will help him or
                      her add to that possibly brace bandages which
                      will tend to keep the horse a little wider may also
                      help.Pacers for the most part are paddlers.
                      Very few are line gaited.
                      Generrally speaking bandages help prevent
                      cross firing somewhat and speed cutting.
                      In this case going a little wider helps to
                      create a little bit of passer by action behind
                      like what is found in trotters.
                      In the front keeping the toe just a little bit
                      longer and in some cases using just a small
                      amount of toe weight will help the horse
                      breakover a little slower and maybe carry
                      the trot gait better The weight will also keep
                      the horse off his elbows too.
                      Well I do not know if any or all of this is any
                      help but that is my 2 cents worth.
                      Guud luck.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have owned a standardbred (pacer) for almost 20 years. He passed away at the age of 29 this past spring. I still miss him. He was my first horse and there wasn't another like him.

                        Standardbreds are a lot like brenderup trailers. People who have never owned one, and only know what they hear, will tell you not to get one. The people who have owned them and know them will tell you they are great. And that's what I will also say. I love my STBs. Mine was super smart (like evil-pony clever) and willing and very forgiving of me especially when it came to driving.

                        I think that any problems driving would come from making the assumption that STBs are trained to drive at the track. I'm certain there are some who have good training (it depends on the trainer)--and I often wondered if my old STB was one of those--but I think the majority of the time they pretty much hook them up and go. When I have visited a huge training track in NJ they hooked 'em up and jumped in the bike while the horse was already jogging down to the track.

                        And yes, there are some (but IME these are in the minority) who are born to pace and getting them to trot is a 50/50 chance and just forget about cantering. I did have one for a short time who was like that. She'd pace in the walk. She wouldn't trot and she wouldn't canter. She'd even pace to and after a jump which I thought was pretty talented. But IME most of them would rather trot.

                        The only time my old horse would pace was on the Xcountry course (I evented him first and did fairly well at it) when he lost his balance. I never had a problem with him pacing in the dressage ring. I don't know about CDEs. Of course you trot in the dressage test but does it matter what gait you do on the course? I would think there might be some times, when for a moment the horse may break to a pace if he's unbalanced but if the gait doesn't matter out of the dressage ring then I don't think it would be a problem. Hey my lusitano paced once on a trail when a backhoe started raising its bucket right next to us without warning. The poor guy didn't know where his legs were he was so startled and for about 2 strides he paced. LOL

                        My only caution would be to assume your STB has never been broke to harness and start from scratch like you would any other horse. I never had any issue teaching my old guy to drive. In fact it was very anti-climatic and he took to driving like he'd been doing it his whole life.

                        And then later on, last year, I found an old racing bike and drove him in that because he has arthritis and couldn't do much. I thought a little walking would help and I thought he'd enjoy the activity. I think he did actually and I hooked the bike up to him and walked him up and down the road once or twice a week. He was a perfect gentlemen.

                        Actually, the first time he was in it (I had been too impatient and didn't take the tires all apart to check them) the tire blew. It sounded like a gun shot right in my ear. My old man started scrambling forward and trotted back for home but within maybe 30-40 meters I had him back to a walk. I don't think I'd be alive to write all this had I been driving any other horse. He was definitely my guardian angel for 20 years.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Preposterous Ponies! View Post

                          ETA: Make sure you get one from a good honest trainer. While many standardbreds jog along happily, some of them will literally try to rip your arms off. Some of horses could be driven by total beginners, others had to have very experienced and very tough drivers. So choose your horse wisely.
                          Yup, this is true. However, I'm not sure if you meant this as such, but some STBs are just hotter than others, and to some degree being a "good" trainer isn't going to fix that. Certain bloodlines are more hot than others, like most all breeds, but of course there are exceptions.

                          "Honest," on the other hand--being willing to tell you if so-and-so-is a freight train, is definitely good

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Been down the road with pacers. Remember I lived in SW VA ;-) And I event so I have a lot of experience with OTTB. Not all are "stupid hot" like many people want you to believe. Yes, it depends on the horse, the trainer, the way they were handled, how they have been re-trained, etc. So it sounds like the STB's are a lot like the TB's in this regard.

                            I think we are making a road trip the first of August to go look at a few. I am excited. He needs a horse again. He has lost 3 of his old guys to old age issues in a single yr. And that has really hit him hard even though he wasn't riding much. Heck, he can't even go trail riding if he wants to right now :-( And he standing on the sidelines and watching me show is not his thing.

                            Here is the link to where he is looking. http://racerplacers.com/available.htm The 2 he is looking at are Trapper and Muskiemar. They have some others too he has been talking them about too that aren't on the website.

                            This will be a good thing (I am oping!)

                            Thanks guys. Hope I will have good things to post as follow ups later!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I groom standardbred yearlings to get them ready for the sales. They get about 4-6 weeks of grooming and then they are videoed for the sales. Each one is taken to a paddock where they - each and every one - trots the fence line. All the pacers and all the trotters - trot. It is only after they go to the trainers do any of them pace.
                              www.headsupspecialriders.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                An amusing anecdote:

                                When I was in New Jersey I used a repro vet that worked out of a farm that also boarded broodmares and foaled them out. Some of the mares were Standardbred mares. Some of the other belonged to a very big name jumper person. Jumper person REFUSED to allow her mares to even be turned out in a paddock adjacent to any Standardbred mare because she was afraid her jumper foals would learn to pace by watching the Standardbred foals!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Renae View Post
                                  An amusing anecdote:

                                  When I was in New Jersey I used a repro vet that worked out of a farm that also boarded broodmares and foaled them out. Some of the mares were Standardbred mares. Some of the other belonged to a very big name jumper person. Jumper person REFUSED to allow her mares to even be turned out in a paddock adjacent to any Standardbred mare because she was afraid her jumper foals would learn to pace by watching the Standardbred foals!
                                  Bwahahahahaha, she is an idiot!!!!! I just lost the horse of my dreams. A Stb gelding, had him for almost 20 years and I don't know if I will ever find a horse with his sane mind and sound body. He was a trotter. When I had him at the driving trainer, he said I would never be overtime on course. He thought the only problem I MIGHT have is collecting his trot in the dressage phase. But I don't think so, I rode him in dressage for many years and did quite well in the lower levels.

                                  I hope you get one, mine was such a willing guy I think the angels are still singing because they got to bring him home.
                                  Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    There are quite a few STBs around here, all Pacers since no one around here can ride well enough to manage a trot.

                                    The vast majority need hobbles to pace, but they also will do a single foot gait as well. Riding them in a curb is pretty much required to get the gait in some of them. A snaffle will encourage trotting even with the same rider and the same feel of the reins.

                                    The ones I know can go for days, and my bf's mare would make a nice endurance horse with some fitness. Even out of the pasture she can go forever and still be ready for more. She's very smart but also pretty hot.

                                    Driving, she wants to go though. She was never actually raced but you wouldn't know that. You might try to find one that wasn't motivated enough for the track? Just didn't want to go all the time, enjoys a more moderate pace.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Do not fear the pacer! Yes, I've had maybe 5 pacers out of a couple of hundred who refused to canter and took a long time to get them to trot comfortably. I found these pacers spent too much time in their hopples and never got the chance to relax while jogging. I rarely jogged my pacers in hopples after they turn 3, they trained in hopples but rarely jogged. I had a few pacers that trained free legged under 2:45 but if I wanted true speed the hopples were on.

                                      Now, I currently have an 11 yo trotter who has been off the track for a year now and an 13yo pacer who I got off the Amish who does the switch back and forth between a trot and a pace.

                                      I have spent 6 months under saddle training the trotter and I will put him in harness for hopefully combined driving this fall. The pacer is my pleasure driving horse so I have no need to drill the pace out of him.

                                      Now, my last pacer I used for combined driving, I spent 6 months under saddle with her. She went over trotting poles, small jumps, and was consistent in both the canter and trot before I put the harness on her. She rarely paced under harness and if she did, it was usually my fault because I got her too strung out and not collected.

                                      I find pacers easier to work with and most do well under saddle and harness, I LOVE my trotters but most are usually a little more hotter than pacers and they need to learn to slow down their huge trot with trotting poles, but once under harness that nice open trot is a great weapon to have.

                                      I would concentrate more on finding a OTSTB that fits your personality and driving style than worry about pacing/trotting.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        OP, good luck with your search! I took a peek at the Racer Placer website sine I had never heard of them. They seem to have a few very nice pleasure driving prospects, and it looks like they put some training into them while they are waiting to be placed, which should be a plus.

                                        Since you have experience with this breed, you probably know how great they are to work with. I've worked with many, IME almost all had good minds, lots of common sense and quite willing.

                                        Yes, of course as you know all pacers can trot, many can trot nicely! They may need a little retraining to learn to balance better at a trot for driving or riding, if they've never been asked to do that before. But many folks are not aware that some pacing racehorses are used to trotting (jogging) in harness at times,of course some are more trotty than others.

                                        Best wishes to you and your DH!

                                        Comment

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