Every barn has at least a few Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, something half Arabian and the token Appy. But lately I’m noticing more and more that Standardbreds are taking up stall space. The fact that more people are willing to give this hidden gem of a breed a chance is great. After all, only a few decades ago a Standardbred who had run its last race was considered to be good for not much else and euthanizing became the retirement norm. Fortunately, a modern effort by various groups and animal welfare organization has brought attention to the breed and rescue and reestablishment have been well underway.
The breed began in the 1700’s with a gray English thoroughbred named Messenger. Over time, Morgans, Hackneys and Canadian Pacers were added to the mix to produce a horse with outstanding trotting or pacing abilities.
The stereotype is that Standardbreds can only trot. However once off the track they can be trained out of it with time and consistency. Also, due to their Thoroughbred roots, their athleticism allows them to make amazing hunters/jumpers, dressage and reining mounts, barrel racers and driving horses. They’re even appearing in the big leagues of competition as they’ve been noted to jump over 6’9 and the one in the picture is currently competing in dressage at the Grand Prix St. George level
Other great perks of the Standardbred is their temperaments. They’re categorized as warmbloods and therefore lack the hot-blooded temperament of a thoroughbred. Friends of mine with Standardbreds can’t say enough of how willing, patient and smart they are. I myself had one and found them to be very easy going and easy to train.
Fortunately for those who are interested in purchasing a Standardbred, they have one proven stereotype which is they’re economically affordable/cheap. Visit an auction or even a track and ask various owners if they have one for sale. You’ll find you can get one for a few hundred dollars easily, maybe even free. You also may be saving a life since they tend to go for slaughter and into sandwiches across Europe once their racing careers are done.
Below are some helpful links for information regarding the breed and some adoption agencies. Take a look at the famous Standardbred jumpers one!Standardbred CanadaUnited States Trotting AssociationOntario Standardbred Adoption SocietyAmerican Standardbred Adoption ProgramFamous Standardbred Jumpers