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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
2021 NOTE TO ANYONE NEW READING

Come talk to us on the last page! :) It's enough to skim a couple of pages there and you can jump right in if you're looking for a friendly group discussion. This journal is part of a group of journals we run more like a social thread than a private journal, and it's populated by interesting characters who think outside the square and who respect other animal species and their needs for expressing natural behaviours like, in the case of horses and other social grazing mammals, free socialising with buddies, trickle grazing, and an ability to explore their environment, which sometimes has to happen with human "backpacks" if you're not incredibly fortunate to have access for wide free-ranging spaces for your horse(s).

My husband and I are lucky that we do. We're on Red Moon Sanctuary, a 62 hectare smallholding comprised of 50 hectares of incredibly biodiverse nature reserve we manage for conservation, and 12 hectares of pasture across which our horses and donkeys free-range along with our small herd of beef cattle, and wildlife like kangaroos and emus. We've been here 10 years (as of 2020) and in that time have owner-built an off-grid strawbale farmhouse in which we host eco-stays (see here and here), which is a fantastic way to meet all sorts of lovely people who care about the planet and the concept of community. ❤

We've also planted shelter belts and rehabilitated our roadsides from invasive weeds back to wildlife habitat, and established a permaculture F&V garden which increasingly feeds us and our guests. And, we've got three retired ex-harness racing horses, one of which I ride and give lessons on, another of which I'd love to saddle train and ride as I did his half-brother (time is an issue), and a 27-year-old who is truly retired, but a total sweetheart.

I grew up across two continents, in three countries; from age 11 I was on a horse breeding and racing farm in Australia because that's what my family chose to do. I personally don't like horse racing, for a number of reasons - most of them to do with industry-standard poor animal management practices and because anything which involves lots of money seems to foster corruption and bring out the worst in people. Also because I find it boring to just race horses around ovals, and prefer disciplines in which there is more communication and camaraderie with the horse - like trail riding, classical dressage (done sensitively), endurance riding (I had an Arabian mare on whom I rode endurance in my teens and 20s) and gymkhanas. In those disciplines, horses can participate well into their 20s, instead of being a use-and-throw-away type item.

When I grew up, I became a biologist/environmental scientist, and later an educator and writer. When we hit 40 we decided to "tree change" to a smallholding, which is where we are now. I've got a keen interest in mental/emotional health from growing up in a difficult family and from seeing similar fallout to my own in friends and in students I was teaching. These days I write about that, and a number of other subjects, on a regular basis. Recreationally, I write here and on an alternative music forum. I also write professional articles for independent magazines when the mood is upon me.

I will be creating an INDEX for this journal soon, because it's so long!

Things like:
  • Learning to ride in Europe
  • Educating my first horse from scratch - an Arabian yearling bought half-price in the summer of 1983, when I was 11
  • Re-educating my current riding horse from harness to saddle in 2009
  • Assorted trail rides in the Australian bush, where I took the camera
  • Many more reports on gorgeous mountain and coastal hikes because we live in a wonderful natural walking area on the pristine South Coast of Western Australia and love getting out and stretching our legs
  • Rehabilitating "institutionalised" horses at Red Moon Sanctuary - here's a link to our last adoptee's first day here with us - he'd spent 17 years since weaning not allowed any social contact with other horses and was kept solitary in the same yard day in, day out
  • Various philosophical reflections
  • Various mental/emotional health pieces to support fellow survivors of family dysfunction
  • Pieces on building our house and managing our farm and nature reserve, which are "re-prints" from magazine articles
...and lots more...

Watch this space.

Returning you to historical journal now, from back in 2104 (and please note, when I started this journal I was glossing over my birth family situation because I had not yet started talking frankly about such problems in public - that happened here.)

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣​


This is going to be a combination of show-and-tell, reflective journal and place for SB appreciators to hang out. I am a default Standardbred appreciator because my parents started breeding, training and racing them when I was still at school. My father is still training and racing a trio of young horses and at age 75 is, as far as I know, the oldest reinsman still driving in races in Western Australia.

I am in the 40+ social group at HF and, when DH and I recently exchanged farms with my parents for a long weekend to give them a change of scenery for my mother's 75th, and I brought photos back to my group, the idea dawned on me that this might make a nice general thread starter on Standardbreds and other Trotting breeds, their harness and ridden training, converting an OTSB for riding, etc. So here goes, starting just with that, cut-and-paste, and I'll fill in the history with more detail later, and answer any questions that might arise.

____

Here are some photos of the horses at my parents' place, which we took last weekend:



Stable row: Chip, (Frog not looking), Dezba, La Jolie, Rosie, La Cherie.



Shed: Baralu, Torrific Girl, Sunset Coast. (Classic Julian opposite, not in photo.)

Two other horses use walk-in-walk-out night quarters, not photographed here.

My father was around the same age I am now when, 30 years ago, he decided he'd had enough of working in an office fulltime, bought a very inexpensive piece of bush in Australia, and built the stables and shed himself, with one offsider. He taught himself to lay bricks and to do roof framing and cladding. Then he started training and racing trotters. He even bred them at one point, but did much better with horses he bought in or rescued, often horses that needed "fixing" in some way: He said recently that when you breed, you don't know what you're going to get; when you buy, you can see what you're going to get.

This is Chip, along with my Romeo the last of the old generation of horses he brought in to race:



Chip was impulse bought inexpensively at a yearling sale, was small and wasn't particularly famously bred, but Dad just liked the look of him and his nature. I was in my early 20s and said to him, "Did you really need another horse?" and he said, "If he doesn't go you can have him, he's so pretty and a real character." As it turned out, he did go all right: Was my father's most successful horse - won 10 times, including 4 metropolitan races, and placed 19 times. We also rode him. I took him to a 25km short endurance event between metropolitan races once and he breezed home in that as well. He was retired paddock sound with a spinal injury he got from running head-first into a tree when playing. He is now 23.



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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is Classic Julian, like Chip also still a stallion, and grumpy here because my dog is annoying him:




Classic Julian was the single foal my father was able to breed out of his most successful race mare ever, Classic Juliet. Like my Sunsmart he is by the US import The Sunbird Hanover, whom my father stood at stud at the tail end of his career when his owner was paralysed in a traffic accident, in return for a couple of foals from his own mares.

Julian is a lovely horse, but smaller than either of his parents, and although he quickly won twice at the start of his racing career, something went mysteriously wrong with him health-wise and after that, he only placed a couple of times until retirement. Typical of the frequent lack of logic of horse breeding, this was our best bred horse ever - champions through both sides of the pedigree, successful parents - but ended up performing below average. His mother, Classic Juliet, was one of the old generation of bought-in horses, acquired as a weanling, and one of the first horses my father raced. She won 7 times and placed 10 times, including in metro races, before breaking a notch off a knee joint that made her likely to injure herself with further racing, so she was retired. She was my Romeo's younger full sister and died last year aged 27. Classic Julian is 14.





Next we have Torrific Girl (left), a young mare my father bought when Julian retired, who is currently trialling and learning to race, and Sunset Coast (right), another foal from the old generation of mares my father drove. Sunset Coast is by The Sunbird Hanover and out of Mediterranean, who was a good country race mare, notching up 3 wins and 15 placings while taking my father through the process of becoming a licensed reinsman in the late 1980s. Sunset Coast was very talented, but involved in several horrific racing accidents she never got over psychologically, and retired after a floating accident that tore a huge hole in her inner thigh. She is now 18 years old.


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·


Next are two of the home-bred and now retired generation: Sunsmart's dam French Revolution (left), and her full brother Le Chasseur (right). Both are grandget of Dame du Buisson, a French Trotter mare we innocently imported into Australia when we came here in 1882 - she and a Bavarian Warmblood gelding were family members and we decided to bring them along and scrounge for years if necessary to do it. I used to ride this lovely, friendly, considerate ex-racer, ex-broodmare on trails as a child, and long story short, the local trotting association convinced my father to breed from her, and she haemorrhaged to death 12 hours after foaling. The foal was unfortunately nothing like her - miserable temper and one of the few horses I actually disliked - and also quite useless for racing purposes, but bred from to preserve the bloodline and assuage some guilt, I am sure... That stallion, French Legacy, died some years back in his mid 20s.



Le Chasseur is French Legacy's only winner and was a reasonable racehorse, but had tendon issues that forced his retirement. He and French Revolution are very kind, friendly, tractable horses like their French grandmother, and have inherited her colour.



French Revolution is 25 and Le Chasseur 21. The mare looks shaggy because she is mid-moult - the gelding has already moulted. These are the two that I've offered to care for at our place to reduce my father's work load a little. We have lots of pasture and wouldn't mind seeing their friendly faces here. My fingers are crossed they will come to Redmond soon - these are seriously good-natured animals.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is Dezba, the mare whose last week's race video I linked the 40+ group to (can post that here later).



She is a little greyhound of a mare who was basically doomed to become dog food before reaching maturity, and my father had liked the look of her at the training track, so he took her on as a project a year ago, and she is blossoming. Just about to turn 7, she has now accrued 11 placings with my father training and driving, and is happy and relaxed on and off track. She is a real sweetheart and, like lots of horses that get unhappy in mainstream stables, really benefits from a personal touch.




A collective photo of most of the rest of the horses:



Dezba, La Jolie, Frog (don't ask :smile:), Rosie, and La Cherie. All the horses to the right of Dezba are by French Legacy, never made it past trials, and are in their teens. None of them would be particularly brilliant to ride either - one is very small and nervous, another quite grumpy, Frog is a big chicken - scared of his own shadow despite lots of work from yearling age and a rusted-on follower of other horses who freaks out the moment he is a few metres from his own kind. Jolie has badly turned-out legs, a birth defect. Having such a large quantity of excess animals hanging around is one of the things that has made sure I've never bred a horse myself: I took warning. I know a few of you said my father is lovely to have kept all his retired horses, and that's true, but life is also somewhat boring for them, so I prefer to have a small number of horses so I can have more time for each, and to have them free ranging.

Having said that, my father was also interested in horse welfare and the living conditions of his horses are a vast improvement on the way riding horses in Europe are generally kept. He made sure to have 4m x 4m loose boxes for plenty of movement and day turnout with considerable room to move, and at least one paddock mate for most of the horses.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is Baralu, the youngest of my father's menagerie:



I really like the look of this one: He reminds me of an Andalusian in his bearing, plus face, mane and tail. Because he is relatively fine-boned, my father is giving him time to mature before racing him. Rising 4, I think he will make a fine mature horse in a year or two and to kill two birds with one stone, I have offered to adopt him post-racing. This means my father doesn't have to worry about what will happen to Baralu should the horse outlive him, and that when Sunsmart retires I will have another nice horse to ride.



Baralu is a rig - he has retained testicles in his body cavity - which means he is a sterile stallion. This also has implications for the kind of home he can go to later. Having said that, he has a testosterone-antagonist implant which is a chemical method of achieving, for around a year at a time, similar results to physically gelding a horse. Still, you can see that his attitude to the dog is quite similar to Julian's: Both of them would kill a dog if they could corner one. Baralu is very friendly to people, but overly playful and boisterous, and still a bit of a handful, as still in the early stages of his education.









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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Phew, so many to get through! To finish, here is a close-up view of some of the horses from the collective photo before:



Frog, full brother to Rosie and Jolie.




Cherie and Rosie. Cherie is a full sister to Chasseur and French Revolution. Rosie is a full sister to Frog and Jolie, and these three were out of Alfa Dynasty, a mare my father raced at the same time he had Mediterranean, and who had one win and 14 placings while my father was qualifying to be a licensed reinsman. Alfa Dynasty died in her early 20s of a ruptured bowel nearly a decade ago.

The Sunbird Hanover died of a twisted bowel at age 24. French Legacy, the Bavarian Warmblood Mingo, and Mediterranean died of age-related illnesses in their mid-to-late 20s - the mare just went to sleep in her loose box one night and never woke up - the most peaceful departure we've had.

My father's first ever race mare, Kiwi Logan, had a fabulous debut season culminating in runner-up in the Triple Crown age classic final, but she collapsed and died like Hickstead only a few months later, after a flawless training run. Another little mare broke her leg on track in the 1990s. Chip had a full sister who died young of impaction colic, and Colirini, the unraced mother of Chasseur, Cherie and French Revolution also died of a twisted bowel while Cherie was still at foot. Mediterranean also had a foal by French Legacy, but he died of impaction colic also. Interestingly, all the bowel-related deaths were in retired or otherwise sedentary horses: We never had one in a horse that was in training.

(The sandy nature of WA's West Coast leads many local horses to tend to accumulate sand in their intestines, and countermeasures are, in our experience, not totally effective if horses are also sedentary. If enough sand accumulates, it can block the gut or predispose the gut to torsions. The dry lots on which my father's horses run are quite typical for the West Coast in footing - the local deep sand, in a climate of only half a year with consistent rainfall, doesn't stand horse traffic unless irrigated and managed with rotations - but his lots are much bigger than such turnout generally is. I live on the South Coast with a much longer growing season and more substantial soils, and my own horses are on pasture.)

I think that's everyone accounted for. My own late Arabian mare, you've already seen.

...end of special transmission...

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Because I'm trying to be efficient here, I am including below a reprint of a post I did when I first joined this forum in February 2014. It gives a little general background in summary format.

___________________________________________________________________

Hi from Australia!

Hiya all, I came across this forum when searching for somewhere with quality and interesting horse related discussions, and am really impressed with how international it is and the general standard of posting and conduct. It's so cool to get snippets of the lives of other riders living in other places and I love the photos. I get to see places I've not travelled and see how things are done there! And it amazes me how universal some things are.

I'm a European who moved to Australia as a littlie, but not before I learnt to ride. On huge Warmbloods, that's the way it's done there: They didn't give kids ponies, just a ladder! :lol: I remember how high up it felt when I finally got on top of that Mt Everest of an animal, and how I desperately didn't want to fall off, so of course I immediately did, which was kind of good because the fear of falling is usually far worse than the actual thing. I'm actually really grateful for the regimented equine education I had as a beginner, what with lots of group arena riding, figures, basic dressage: It stood me in good stead ever after.

In Australia I grew up on a horse stud because my father, who is horse obsessed, didn't seem to know when to stop breeding them! He got into trotters because of a pet mare from France whom he brought out, and I currently ride a great-grandson of hers who is a lot of fun. My personal preference has always been for riding, but when you're in a harness family even your Arabian endurance mare ends up being cart-broken! :lol: I grew up endurance and trail riding, attending flag-racing and novelties gymkhanas, and practising dressage and tricks in the back paddock. My jumping career didn't last long because my legs grew so long that even if the horse clears the jump, my feet, which would hang far below even on a Clydesdale, knock over the jump.

Now mid-life, and after a hiatus in horse riding from my mid twenties to mid thirties, we moved to the sticks three years back and I have three horses, including two ancient retirees from my childhood. Also three donkeys, but that's another story! And an adorable dog. The sun is kind of hot in this part of the world, which may be a reason we decided to build a farm house out of straw bales. Yes really! We're getting closer to completion, photos (including menagerie) on:

Flickr: Red Moon Sanctuary's Photostream

A bow right here to any Americans reading: You guys pioneered bale building, thank you! One of your compatriots, Andrew Morrison of strawbale.com, was our most useful resource for building that kind of house: We were novices, and it's been something of a journey. At one stage, before plastering, one of our horses tried to eat our dining room! :lol:

Well, best wishes to all, and happy riding!

SueC
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
For additional context, here's a little video of DH's and my South Coast home two years ago, when the Donkey Society brought the group of donkeys we offered to adopt. One of them, Sparkle (tiny paint jenny), is basically blind and needs her long-term herdmates Mary Lou (long-haired Irish donkey, looks like a Rastafarian yak) and Don Quixote (classical looking donkey) as guide donkeys long term. Mary Lou and Don Quixote were terribly obese, and have been slimmed down considerably with grazing muzzles etc since we acquired them.

The video also shows the horses' initial reaction to the donkey arrival, and gives a glimpse of how South Coast conditions are a bit more lush than West Coast.



 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Some relatively recent photos of me with my own horses.

My late mare aged 27 at a beach outing with friends.




Same mare, same age, some relaxed trail riding to keep her in good shape and humour. Like many Polish/Crabbet Arabians she was a super endurance horse in her prime. Also great at novelties like bending and barrel races, saddle trotting races, etc. Was fun to do dressage with and had great flying changes, which we started doing just for fun in the back paddock when I was growing up. I had this mare for 31 years. When I bought her as a yearling, I was 11 and we didn't realise I was going to be 5'11" at maturity. :smile: Still, like lots of Arabs, this one was up to it. She was the first horse I educated from scratch.




My husband with her after I had entered her in one led and one ridden open-breed open-age class, just for fun and because she was looking so wonderful for her age, at our local agricultural show when she was 27 and due to my career commitments and travel had had a ten-year hiatus from any sort of competition. The next oldest horse was more than ten years her junior, and the judge nearly fainted when I told him how old she was after the competition. :smile:





Early stages of re-educating my French Trotter/SB cross Sunsmart from harness to ridden.




And...the donkeys earlier this year:




Also, our ancient SB Romeo looking in on us while we were plastering our living room:

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Enough context... now back to some action, so I'm also going to share here a recent unfortunate chainsaw accident and subsequent harness race I originally wrote about in my 40+ village.


Please take care with power saws

Hey all, my father, who's used chain saws for over four decades and never had an accident, had one yesterday cutting firewood. A funny shaped branch slipped and the saw kicked to the side and got him in the palm of his left hand. He was extraordinarily lucky not to have severed any tendons or nerves. An emergency department doctor spent nearly two hours stitching him up and says he should make a full recovery.

To give you an idea of what my father is like though: Happened at 10am, my mother came home from shopping at 10.30 and wanted to take him to emergency but he'd pressure bandaged his hand and insisted on training his horse first as it had a race coming up on the weekend. Then he had to feed all his darlings and he decided he might as well bring them all into their stables early in case the medical treatment went on after sunset. So by mid-afternoon he left to see his GP, who took a look at the hand, nearly fainted, and sent him to the emergency department...

I've offered to take two of his retired horses into care here on a permanent basis, to reduce his load from 12 (3 in training, 9 surviving retirees) to 10. I'm looking to take care of Sunsmart's mother and her full brother, both early 20s, both chestnuts with stars and very friendly. I have ample room here and I know I'm going to lose Romeo before too long. He's officially 30 (although his real birthday isn't for weeks yet) and that's a bit of a record. He's doing well though, pelted around with the others at full gallop today and has stopped being lean now! Very energetic at present. Would want to be though, with all the stuff I'm feeding him because he is four molars down!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste
Sue, I hope your dad heals quickly. I think it is awesome that he keeps his older race horses! That is great!

I've been referring to his place as "The Equine Retirement Village" for years. Not only does he keep every single one of them (except Romeo and Sunsmart, whom I adopted), but he continues to stable them at night and muck out after them. For 12 horses all up, to do that, plus hand-feed concentrates twice a day and meadow hay four times (dry lots at his place, no pasture) took me 3-4 hours a day on the weekend just to do all that, and that's before you actually work with a horse! And he's 75, and still trains three horses, and has mountains of upkeep around his property that keeps him busy besides...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RegularJoe
Reminds me of a friend from high school. His dad was, if memory serves, 61 and had never seen a doctor for any reason whatsoever.

He put a chain saw half way through his leg, nearly to the bone.

He wanted to just sew it up himself.

My friend's mom basically had to threaten to divorce him if he didn't go to the hospital.


Funny story! I have one like that! A colleague of mine back in 1998 (picture a dreadlocked art teacher) cut his leg on a piece of metal, poured whisky into it, drank some whisky, and sewed himself up with fishing line. Unfortunately he got an infection and then had to go to hospital anyway. I don't think the whisky in the would helped any (because it basically cooks not just the bacteria, but the cells on the wound surface and that really interferes with healing...blame the old cowboy movies...)

My dad isn't anti-hospital as such. He just puts his horses first to a somewhat ridiculous degree... http://www.horseforum.com/members/24775/
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eole
Sue, I'm sure your father will heal well... if he can be convinced not to use that hand for a couple weeks.

:rofl:

Even when my father had a hernia repaired in his 60s and was told to avoid lifting/strain for a month, he was mucking out stables and training as usual. He did make the concession to only half fill the wheelbarrows...

So resting his hand is a similar story. In fact, here he is driving in a race on Sunday afternoon, days after the accident. He and his little (rescue) mare Dezba came third. He's had her a year - previous place she'd got so stressed out she wasn't eating and she wasn't performing, and they know my father is good with this kind of stuff and offered him the mare. He hasn't won yet with her but they've had numerous placings, and this is another. He's easy to spot with his pink/black horseshoes driving jacket.

http://media.harness.org.au/wa/BYC07091406.mp4

If that doesn't open, choose your video option from this link (Race 6):

Race Results -BUNBURYÂ*Â*7 September 2014- Australian Harness Racing

He did tell me he was taking the precaution of wearing a food handling glove between his bandaged hand and driving gloves for extra protection from dirt and moisture. :lol:


Quote:
Originally Posted by RegularJoe
Nice finish! Just enough left in the tank to capture third.

Yeah, that was a really nice tactical drive - and that's great because after the last race he was beating himself up after sitting in the running line and taking her out with 400m to go instead of closer to the finish, which meant she had to run extra distance (around the curve) and push wind longer, and they ended up 6th.

This time, in that video, he was racing his maiden mare in a mixed race with some horses who had already won up to three races (the horses who finished 1st-4th there were the three favourites plus Dezba). So he didn't want to fight one of the favourites for the lead but took the slipstream behind that horse, which is a good spot to be if you can get out at the end - and if it's a favourite leading you, then you're unlikely to be shovelled back at the end by a tiring leader. Paid off because he got to overtake the leader in the end.

It's only her third race back from a spell and she is not quite back at peak fitness yet, so my dad is very happy! And I'm proud of him for getting a free mare to be so competitive. She's run 2nd five times and 3rd six times since he had her and with previous owners she'd only had the one placing before she started starving herself out of stress and unhappiness. As mares that haven't won aren't generally used for breeding, her life expectancy wouldn't have been very long if dad hadn't adopted her. As it is she's staying in the family - I've already promised she can retire with me (because dad expects she'll outlive him).

It's not like we have a champion racehorse there, but this kind of thing is very satisfying and more than pays for itself as well, and a great hobby for a 75yo person compared to watching TV!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueC
...this kind of thing is very satisfying and more than pays for itself as well, and a great hobby for a 75yo person compared to watching TV!

Nearly anything is a better hobby than watching TV, 75 or not.

Interesting that you said it pays for itself. If I'm not intruding, what's the payout for a third place finish?

It's around $500 in country races like that. She's made around $10K in the last 12 months with her 11 placings. 2nd pays around $1200. There's also a little money for 4th and 5th. A win would be $4500 or so in country class.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am including the following "reprint" because people ask me regularly about trotting versus pacing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eole
Classic Julian is so handsome, I had noticed him in the previous pictures. Are they all pacers?

I look at Julian and see his under-saddle potential - he's beautiful and athletic and only 14 and totally sound. I think he'd be as good a riding horse as my Sunsmart, who is by the same sire. Julian is slightly smaller, but has a better head carriage - I had to work Sunsmart out of being upside-down when I started. I think he's wasted in the paddock, and bored to boot. But I already have a riding horse and can't ride two.

Julian raced as a pacer but has a beautiful trot as well, like Chip, who did whatever gait the rider cued for - there is this misconception that pacers are useless at serious equitation because they allegedly can't trot or canter properly or get the leads right. There is a small subset of pacers who can't trot, they only ever pace in the paddock as well, but whatever they have in the paddock, they will potentially have under a rider with the right communication. However, unless a rider has some competence in under-saddle training and in basic dressage, the horse is just going to keep doing what it thinks the humans want from it unless shown otherwise. If trotters/pacers are ridden from the go-get parallel with their harness training, then they never need re-training, but re-training is straightforward for a competent rider.

Sunsmart was a trotter, pacing didn't agree with him although my father tried to teach it to him for seven years, so he never got to race as there were no trotting races in WA at the time. Same goes for a few other horses my father bred but never raced - the mare that everything started with was a French Trotter, and some of her descendants, like Sunsmart, took after her to the extent that they weren't "ambidextrous" like most Standardbreds.

Sunsmart's gaits at liberty - this is a fun video if you haven't seen it, where he chases cattle for entertainment:


End of excepts from my HF social group. Hopefully this gives some non-harness folk a glimpse into that discipline, and makes a nice starting point for this thread.
 

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This is very interesting. I know nothing about Standard Breds...I don't think we have them in Germany? Or maybe we call them something else. Subbing so that I can learn more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Hi Frlsgirl! :)

In Germany you have them too, (American) Standardbreds and various European trotting breeds, all collectively referred to as "Traber" - and people in Europe ride them far more commonly, including in serious competitions, than they do in Australia.

Very famous example: Olympic showjumper Halla.


Olympic showjumper Halla - a German Trotter with SB blood (stud books allow free mixing).




Trotting blood is also often well represented in various riding and carriage breeds (and Trotters themselves, of course, developed from good carriage horse lines interbred with TBs etc).

I spent my first decade in Europe and noticed that carriage driving was (thirty years ago anyway) still a popular pursuit with Warmblood riders. They'd be in the saddle one time and driving their horses the next. It was way cool. That kind of versatility was highly prized. We had a Bavarian Warmblood once, and we found out that (thirty years ago anyway) prospective breeding stallions had to pass examinations on conformation, halter handling, dressage, jumping, carriage driving and ploughing to be allowed to breed registered offspring. :smile:

Also the Bavarian Warmblood studbook accepted various Trotting breeds, SBs, TBs and Arabians for breeding BW horses, so long as they passed all these examinations of course! Our BW was out of a German Trotter dam called Yakima who was a regional showjumping champion of her time, so her foal to a "regular" BW stallion, Morketo, was registered as a BW without hesitation.

If you go to a Trabrennen in Germany you may well come across blood relatives of the horses my father bred. Our foundation mare, French Trotter Dame du Buisson, produced five foals in Germany before we bought her, and they ran very well, and almost certainly produced further racing offspring. Her foals used to race in Daglfing, Munich.
 

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Hi Frlsgirl! :)

In Germany you have them too, (American) Standardbreds and various European trotting breeds, all collectively referred to as "Traber" - and people in Europe ride them far more commonly, including in serious competitions, than they do in Australia.
Ahhh...Traber...I got it now. I've lived in the states for the past 20 years and I don't recall seeing Trabers at any of the riding schools where I took lessons when I lived in Germany, but I do recall the breed term and remember watching trabrennen on TV. I didn't know that you could use them for every-day type of riding...thought they were exlusively used in harness/racing. Learn something new every day :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, horses are horses, and though there are specialist breeds around, many of them are still versatile.

Where I went to riding school in Germany, they had mostly Warmbloods, but there was also one draught horse, Kalinka, who got ridden (an old schoolmate, reminiscing, recently said, "We had to do the splits to ride her, as child riders!") and one Trotter. Interestingly, it was the Trakehner who had issues with his canter leads.

Our first horse, a Bavarian Warmblood, was half Trotter by bloodlines, and our foundation mare we actually bought as a riding horse, and she was a wonderful, reliable horse. Nobody we met in Germany expressed surprise to see a Trotter being ridden, which is quite unlike the situation in Australia, where there is a snootiness about it. While we agisted at German barns, we came across several other Trotters in the breed mix that included Warmbloods (like Trakehner, Oldenburger, Hannoverian), Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Irish Hunters, Icelandic and Fjord horses. Trotters have a good jumping reputation there, because of Halla and other such showjumpers/eventers.

Whereabouts in Germany were you from? And can you get Brezeln and decent bread in Oklahoma? :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Frlsgirl: I noticed you ride a Morgan. This breed is related to the American Standardbred, as the faster Morgan carriage horses were incorporated into the breed during its development, along with TBs like foundation sire Hambletonian.

A reasonable article on the Standardbred on Wikipedia:

Standardbred - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The point mutation discussed in the article and its relationship to trotting ability is vastly oversimplified in the article. Like many complex characteristics, many genes are likely to be involved, not just one simple mutation. Other breeds also have good trotting abilities, and do not all have this point mutation - for example, other trotting breeds, and also good working Arabians (my Arabian mare trotted faster than some Standardbreds and consistently won saddle trotting competitions in gymkhanas).

I do like this photo of a SB doing dressage, from the article above.




It's a shame that "standard" has such negative marketing connotations these days compared to "deluxe" and other superlatives. The SB is thus named because they all had to trot to a certain time standard to go in the stud book.

Also a nice website here on Standardbreds for pleasure and performance under saddle:

The Standardbred Pleasure & Performance Horse Association of NSW Inc. - Home
 

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I have a Standardbred mare, an older girl. We're thinking around 20yrs. I bought her for $200 from a couple that said they rescued her from a mud pen with no food,hay or fresh water. I was looking for something my 2 yr old granddaughter could learn to ride on and they said this is the girl. As close to spook proof as you can get, never a kick,bite or anything that would hurt a person. So for the last 3 year's she's lived in our backyard and taken many many walks on a leadline around the loop road We live on.
Chloe has a her size pony now to learn to ride independently and I've decided to ride Judy myself. I used to ride anything when I was young but lost confidence after a few falls as I got older. I'm 61 now, so I took her to a friend's barn where there's a round pen and an arena to ride in and someone around to call 911 if I do fall off 😉. I've gone over twice this week and lunged her a little then rode in the arena,mostly walking, circles,changing direction until I get my confidence back. It's finally beginning to cool off here some so maybe soon I'll try some trails behind the barn. My friend that's a trainer and instructor is there with me in case I do need help.
When she round penned Judy she says every now and then she can get her to gait, heck I just want a nice walk/trot at this point. Amy said she didn't know if there were certain cues or commands because she has no experience with Standardbreds. I did notice in your cow chasing video, when we first turned Judy out in her big pasture, she trotted and flew around with that tail out and up like a flag. I did think her gallop almost looked like some kind of bunny hop, is that normal? I know this is kinda long, I'm just so happy with my sweet old girl and counting on her to get me past that old fear so I can really enjoy riding again. I really don't care if she gaits or not, I'm happy with a good trot. Amy seems to think if she can do it then we should learn how to make her do it on command. I'm riding her in an English saddle and a thick,fat loose ring snaffle or just bareback. Are there specific commands or equipment needed to get the pace? My granddaughter still says Judy is her horse. ☺
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