The Standardbred is one of the most stereotyped breeds in the world. Doubters of the breed often refer to them as being unable to trot if they’ve been pacers and all are unable to canter. They can’t jump. They say they are ugly. They say they only come in brown. They’re legs are used up after racing and they’re hot headed. They’ve even said you can’t ride them!
Obviously none of these myths are true.
A Standardbred is a true diamond in the rough. The breed can be found in just about every discipline a horse can do-jumping, dressage, carriage driving, western pleasure, and even fox hunting. An off the track Standardbred needs to learn that you want them to trot and canter, as they’re trained not to when racing. Trotting and cantering are natural gaits to horses and an off the track Standardbred will pick them up with training.
Standardbreds are often bay or brown, but they do come in many other colors! Black, grey, chestnut and even pinto has been seen in the breed. More and more now we are seeing splashes of chrome in their coats, from long socks to big beautiful blazes. They can also come with beautiful, refined heads and bodies, not the stereotypical Roman nose the breed has been associated with.
And of COURSE you can ride a Standardbred! Standardbreds make excellent riding horses. They just need training like any other breed. And as an added bonus, they’ve been exposed to so much more than your average horse because of their early starts in racing. A typical OTSB has seen all sorts of lights, objects, colors and textures as well as heard all kinds of noises, from cheering crowds to car horns. And more often than not your Standardbred will already know how to stand in cross ties, load, lead and work with your vet and farrier. They will also be more comfortable in strange and loud surroundings than many other horses.
Standarbreds are also popular as working horses. They are of course excellent at pulling carts and carriages to both work and entertain alongside their human companions. They’re also a big hit with mounted units. The breed has the right size and temperament to be a police horse. They are just tall enough to be a presence in a crowd, but small enough to not cost a fortune to feed and shoe! They also are level headed and take in new situations with grace and ease. Standardbreds are also quickly becoming one of the most popular breeds for endurance racing. They can trot, pace or rack for miles without breaking a sweat, and the pace/rack is comfortable to sit for a long period of time.
Many of our horses have found incredible second careers in a variety of disciplines. Some, like Lightning Prince, Golden Terror, Amazida and Putt For Money, have found new jobs riding and driving with their families. Others, like Kilkerran Urban, have become successful show horses under saddle. Gotta B Good has taken on endurance riding like a pro. Dear Old Boy and Holiday Spot are excelling at fox hunting. Perfect Man served with the Saratoga Park Police. Caviar Tonight teaches students at SUNY Cobleskill about riding, driving and equine basics. Dozens more are trail horses. And of course, they all are wonderful family horses.