It hasn’t ALL been about riding 100 miles around here…
There’s a new kid on the block
This is N MacBeach (Mac) a 6 year old Standardbred who cost 27,000 dollars and then turned out to be a “roarer” (idiopathic laryngeal hemiplegia for the veterinary minded amongst you). He had surgery, which failed, so was rehomed as he was never going to be a winning racehorse.
He’s BIG. About 16.1 – this appeals to Pete, and will probably appeal to Prycie too, as if Mac works out Prycie will no longer have to pack Pete around (Pete is 6 foot one, and he plus his saddle probably weigh about 240 lbs, which is a big ask for a 15.1 horse. Mac on the other hand is definitely up to carrying weight!
I am a big fan of Standardbreds as “entry level” horses. It’s a controversial area, but in my experience the off the track Standy is generally sounder (both physically and mentally) than an off the track Thoroughbred. They are generally kind, reliable horses who really want to please and have very good feet (although Mac’s were long in the toe and underrun at the heel. I’ve pulled his shoes and the barefoot life her has seen them improve a lot already with a couple of trims). In addition, they are SO used to harness hanging off them that introducing a saddle is no big deal!
There’s the issue of pacing to overcome of course, but you can make life easier on yourself by picking one that is not hard wired to pace (not all of them are: Prycie trots when free running in the paddock) and in Mac’s case when I got the owner to run him out in hand, he trotted rather than pacing. So far when working him in the round yard I have only seen him trot, so that’s a good start.
They generally make excellent endurance horses: they are bred to be stayers rather than sprinters and have a higher proportion of fast twitch fibres than TBs, they usually have good heart rates and they are VERY good at switching off as soon as they get back to base. I love seeing them come through the vet ring, calmly watching as the daft Arabs snort and show off. They may not outrun an Arab over 50 miles, but they are generally steady, dependable, reliable finishers. In Australia, Standardbreds have done 80 and 160km rides, and have finished the Quilty.
So far Mac has only done groundwork and had a saddle introduced. He’s proven to be attentive, athletic (he has an enormous trot – good luck posting that one Pete!) and like most of his kind, keen to please and a bit of a worry wart. I’m scheduled to get on him this weekend. I hope he behaves: it’s a really long way down…