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Standardbreds as sport horses

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  • Standardbreds as sport horses

    I am just curious why there aren't more standardbreds being used and promoted as sport horses? My BO breeds and races Standardbreds and they look just as athletic to me as any Thoroughbred. Yet, I am always seeing OTTBs praised and networked as sport horses once their racing days are done, why not Standardbreds as well?
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
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  • #2
    In my very little experience with Standardbreds, I have no clue. My great-uncle owns a huge farm down in NJ and I've gone to visit a few times. All his horses are super sweet and I love going down the line to give everybody a carrot. 8 bags later, I'm a big fan of them!

    OTOH, having worked at a few sales as a Preferred Equine crash dummy, I wouldn't poke one of those with a 10 foot stick. 99% of the horses that were consigned with them were rank, plain, with kind of yucky heads. The Amish seemed to snap up all the ones that weren't really good racehorses, at the sales, at least.

    My guess is that the pacers, at least, can be hard to train out of that trot. That and they are overlooked because they are all pretty much the same. Bay. 15-16h, with boxy heads. My guess is that they are better suited as trail horses than sport horses, but if you get the right one, go for it! The right horse matched with the right job can go pretty far.

    Comment


    • #3
      There is a large Standardbred rehoming network here in New England. They absolutely positively can be FABULOUS sport horses, and since they're often built more "heavy" than TBs, they often "lose their papers" and end up as Warmblood crosses.

      At least in New England, there are way fewer Standardbreds being bred than TBs. Also, the STB racing industry seems to care more for their horses, honestly, than the TB industry as a whole. Any big winners are quickly scooped up and given a home for life, by the owners or by someone who won a ton of money on them. (Case in point: There was a 24 yo STB at my barn who had been purchased at 10 by a man who had won lots of money on him....and then supported him for 14 years.) STBs also have a longer "working life"....most that are being retired are in the 8-10yo range, not 3 years old. Farms do their best to place them with family and friends.

      But New Vocations has a TB chapter, and there are many other rehoming organizations.

      Comment


      • #4
        Standardbred Retirement Foundation is dedicated to retraining and rehoming ex race horses.

        http://www.adoptahorse.org/

        The USTA also has a retraining/rehoming program

        http://standardbreds.ustrotting.com/

        All of the yearlings I have seen (hundreds) have trotted as yearlings, even the eventual pacers. It is a training issue not a conformation/hardwire issue. Standardbreds are getting prettier and have nicer heads although that is not what makes them a wonderful breed. Their willingness to please and to work and their levelheadedness are their best attributes. Quick learners too!

        Here is a link that debunks most of the myths about Standardbreds

        http://www.standardbredhorse.com/myths.htm
        Last edited by skykingismybaby1; Jan. 13, 2013, 10:28 AM. Reason: more info
        www.headsupspecialriders.com

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        • #5
          link to Standardbred famous jumpers:

          http://www.standardbredfanclub.com/jumpers.html

          Superminion, you have a bit of an oxymoron in this sentence:

          'My guess is that the pacers, at least, can be hard to train out of that trot.'

          In fact, the pacers are easier to transition from racing stride to a traditional 3 gate style. Trotters are harder to transition because they tend just to trot faster rather than go into a canter. Dot at New Vocations always recommends pacers if the adopter is interested in riding/showing an adopted standardbred for dressage or for hunter/jumper.

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          • #6
            p.s. follow-up to earlier note, if you're unfamiliar with standardbred racers, the pacer moves legs same side/same time, whereas trotters have the traditional opposite sides (e.g. left front/right hind, right front/left hind) gate. Pacers wear that head pole from their bridle to their girth to help them keep their balance, as the same side gait makes them wobble.

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            • #7
              Standardbred shows

              Here in Ontario I have a neighbour who is pretty heavily into rehoming Standarbred horses for the local rescue association. Her interest started when she acquired a retired racing Standardbred for driving and then schooled him dressage and then a little jumping. She was so impressed with his athletic ability and temperament she acquired another who looks as if he may eventually be a pretty good jumper. She has recruited me for the past three years as a volunteer for the local Standarbred show and I must say that it was a real eye opener. All disciplines are welcome as long as they are Standardbred and although many are competing at the schooling stage there are always a few stand outs. I know that there is at least one Standardbred that is competing on the Ontario A circuit as a jumper and doing very well. Hard to know how many others there are as people do not typically tend to brag about their horse having any Standardbred in them at all as they tend to be so looked down on. But, I saw many horses at that show that I would not have lableled as typical for that breed. There were some that I would not have been able to tell the difference between that and a warmblood, others that were fine boned and very TB. Some very tall, some pony sized and yes, a few that were very typical of the stereotypical Standardbred.

              All the owners talked about the terrific temperament and work ethic their horses had. I think if you found a good one it would be worth taking the time to see if they had talent as they are a dime a dozen right now and well worth the time and effort.

              Comment


              • #8
                All Standardbreds can, and will trot and canter; it may help to think of the pace as an extra gear. The pace, a lateral gait, is not forced, it is natural with pacing bred horses and hopples (yes, that is the correct spelling) are only for balance, not forcing a pace, keeping a horse on gait or any other 'reason' you may have heard. Trotters also wear hopples although they are vastly different. The real concern is not getting a pacer to trot but to get a balanced trot for a riding horse and getting a balanced trot for a rider is of the same concern with a trotter - both are trained for speed, not comfort.

                Using a headpole for balaning a pacer is patently BS. Headpoles are used to help steer a rubber necked horse or one that cranks its head around to one side or another; if there are two poles, the horse is most likely rubber necked and horrible to steer. The headpole does not go from the bridle to the girth but from the race halter to the waterhook on the saddle of the harness. Not all Standardbreds race with a headpole but almost all race with an overcheck which goes from the overcheck bit, up through the crown of the bridle and again to the waterhook; if a horse wears a headpole, that is put on before the horse is checked up.

                Pacers come in two varieties - leg pacers which generally produces a choppy, inefficient movement and therefore a slower horse and body pacers who have body roll, a longer stride, more fluid and efficient gait and therefore generally more speed. Leg pacers can be horribly rough to ride but there is no body roll to learn to sit while body pacers have a noticible sway to the body when they move, but please remember they CAN and will trot and canter.
                Last edited by sk_pacer; Jan. 13, 2013, 11:59 AM. Reason: Cat was helping type again.........*SIGH*
                Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                Member: Incredible Invisbles

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                • #9
                  excellent points, sk-pacer, thanks!!!! all in all, these horses are under-rated, they are very versatile!

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                  • #10
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dogontired View Post
                      link to Standardbred famous jumpers:

                      http://www.standardbredfanclub.com/jumpers.html

                      Superminion, you have a bit of an oxymoron in this sentence:

                      'My guess is that the pacers, at least, can be hard to train out of that trot.'

                      In fact, the pacers are easier to transition from racing stride to a traditional 3 gate style. Trotters are harder to transition because they tend just to trot faster rather than go into a canter. Dot at New Vocations always recommends pacers if the adopter is interested in riding/showing an adopted standardbred for dressage or for hunter/jumper.
                      Thanks for clarifying. I was just parroting what my great-uncle has said. His horses are often passed over because of that thought.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks, dogontired. I have used Standardbreds for cattle work, general cattle related work such as riding fences, ponying their stablemates in bad weather (with nearly no prep work), gaming and just plain riding although that came as a treat.

                        Yep they are very underrated although it's tough to find a used Standardbred in the West as they mostly end up as outfitters horses.
                        Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                        Member: Incredible Invisbles

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                        • #13
                          I used to break and resell off the track Standardbreds, but don't do it any longer--there really isn't a good market for them. Temperament-wise they are fabulous--easy to break, sensible to ride. I do find that getting a decent canter out of them can be difficult. They all will, however, w/t/c.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It can be quite difficult to teach a former STB racehorse to canter - they are punished if they "break stride" while race training. It took me years to get a consistent canter out of my STB. He's got one of the most comfortable canters I've ever ridden, but a VERY big trot. I think another reason they're overlooked as sport horses is because of that damn tattoo on the neck. It's really unsightly, and depending on who did it, it can look like it was spray-painted on. My gelding is grey, so his is hardly noticeable.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have two stbs at my farm. One i bought at Camelot Auction 5 years ago, as a PMU coming 2 year old. She's never raced, but I worked with enough of them on the track that i know that's what she is. (and i believe on here i was able to find about her breeding as Cothers are amazing.) lol.

                              She was broke in about a week. w/t/c. She has jumped about 2ft and def. can go higher, but finding her a saddle to fit has been a bit difficult. But now i have a dressage one so just have to find the English one. :P)
                              She's relatively sensible, and i have started to use her in my lessons with my better riders.
                              Here's "the wench" lol or Whimsy
                              https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...94006361_n.jpg

                              https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...027_5457_n.jpg

                              And the other is a was raced forever ago and then apparently passed around stb, that my boarder rescued and has spent about a year getting to be a good citizen. He was not what we were told he was, and that made him a bit more work than we thought he would be, but he has come a long way and is doing very well. The canter is going to be a hassle for him, as just as we started to get it nice, she got pregnant and now can't ride!
                              but he is a very nice horse.

                              I really like jug heads, and always wanted one. So now i have two here.
                              www.rivendellhorsefarm.com/tackpage.html

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by lolalola View Post
                                It can be quite difficult to teach a former STB racehorse to canter - they are punished if they "break stride" while race training. It took me years to get a consistent canter out of my STB. He's got one of the most comfortable canters I've ever ridden, but a VERY big trot. I think another reason they're overlooked as sport horses is because of that damn tattoo on the neck. It's really unsightly, and depending on who did it, it can look like it was spray-painted on. My gelding is grey, so his is hardly noticeable.
                                How are they punished for breaking? In all my time on the track, I have NEVER seen a horse being punished unless slowing them down to get back on stride is punishment; it is no different than slowing a horse rushing a jump, circling and trying again. If hopples are punishment, again that is wrong, they are a balancing medium, nothing more although adjustment is crucial as it is with any piece of equipment.

                                That is a freezebrand on the neck - a tattoo is on the inside of the opper lip. I am certain that one can, with a bit of looking, find Roux Fanciful in the proper shade to cover the brand or at least make it less noticible. There is a reason for the brand - it's much easier to read than a tattoo.
                                Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                                Member: Incredible Invisbles

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I think stereotypes are, unfortunately, the biggest reason you don't see more STB sporthorses. :-( Most of them trot and canter just fine. They come in various shapes and sizes. I have seen one you would swear was a draft cross, ones that look just like TB, and one that looked like a little show pony. Some have the jug head, but others are nicely refined.

                                  Not sure why people take such issue with the freezebrand - in some countries TB are freeze branded too, in much more obvious locations (shoulder and hip, etc). It's an instant, visible form of ID. Many other breeds of horse are branded, either freeze or hot, and I think a messed up hot brand looks a lot worse than a freezebrand. I honestly wish TB would go to the freezebrand, which doesn't fade and become unreadable like the tattoos.
                                  Flickr

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                                  • #18
                                    In my opinion, it's probably for two reasons. First, for the most part they're not "pretty". Second, while they can canter, it doesn't seem easy or natural for them, at least not the few I've ridden. The STB I have out in my pasture rarely canters or gallops- when the rest of the herd goes galloping off, she's keeping up with them at a big huge trot!

                                    I love the STB temperament- calm, cool and collected with plenty of self-preservation. My mare has some issues with handling her hind feet, but other than that she'll willingly do whatever you ask of her. She requires some skill under saddle as she's no deadhead, but anybody that doesn't hang on the bridle can drive her...just don't ask for speed unless you're ready for it, because she'll sure give it to you!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I have a standardbred lippizan filly that i have had for about eight months now, and i absolutely LOVE her, very trainable, nice gaits, and a sweetheart

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The wonderful, sweet and calm big standardbred mare I used in endurance rides was fine for most anything except cantering in a smaller place, like our indoor.
                                        She took long to teach to get her legs under her, was naturally very strung out and that seems to be a breed trait, even if not all are like that.
                                        She even had a very nice head and was put together well.

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