My Trip Across The Ditch

My trip across the ditch

 

Earlier this year the family purchased 3 lovely fillies from the Yearling Sales in Christchurch, all 3 lovely fillies and 3 very different fillies! Making our latest team 5 Kiwis in total, sounds like we have an addiction! I was fortunate enough to hop back on the plane across the ditch and see how they were going after the breaking in prep. With New Zealand winters not favouring the horse training, a little too cold and wet. It was nice to see the fillies back in work after their winter holiday, still a little scruffy with their winter coats.

trip across the ditch

Friday

I arrived in Christchurch on a beautiful Friday afternoon, sun shining, spectacular clean crisp New Zealand air. We are so fortunate to live in this part of the world, especially when Middle Earth is only a 3-hour flight away.

We were in for an absolute treat on the Friday night with Addington races having a table in the members room with beautiful food and watching an action-packed race night. It was a spectacular experience, especially witnessing the running of Heat 3 for the Sires Stakes series. It was amazing to see Chase Auckland get the win in the heat, who went on to win the final. You can see Chase Auckland’s Heat win here on Harness Racing New Zealand website.

We retreated for an early night after the ninth race knowing we had a jam-packed Saturday!

trip across the ditch addington

Two reasons for the trip across the ditch, first one was to see our fillies and how they are developing after their breaking in prep. But also, to have a peep at Equidays NZ and to sit in on an incredible masterclass with Kyra Kyrklund. You can read all about the recap here with Kyra in my earlier blog post here.

Saturday

With Christchurch weather still on our side on the Saturday morning, it was time to drive some fillies! We watched Spider (Betterthencheddar) a nice little compact filly with a striking part white tail- workout first. At this point with her training she can be a little head strong and is a little opinionated!

trip across the ditch spider
Spider

Next, it was Libby (Sportswriter) and Misty (Shadow Play) turn to work out, I managed to steal the drive on Misty. I became rather attached to this big black girl this trip. I had an amazing experience driving Misty first up on Saturday, pushing her through a few gears with Libby. Who might I add was exceptional to watch, Libby has an amazing turn of foot. She really does look impressive when she finds that next gear!

trip across the ditch misty
Misty

I defiantly chose the right horse for me, managed to get the phone out for a quick snap on the way back in!

 

Trip across the ditch Misty Shadow

 

 

We also had a treat to see a filly who was only born several hours earlier! This stunning little girl is half sister to Spider.

 

To top off a wonderful horse day in Christchurch we visited Equidays, a pre- visit to Kyra’s Masterclass on the Sunday and to do a little shopping. I purchased a snazzy new Spooks vest and bought a matching pink one for my mother who was unable to join us on the trip. We finished off an amazing day with an absolute feast at the local Tai Tapu pub! If anyone is travelling to that area, I highly recommend the pork belly. 😊

Kyra Masterclass

 

Sunday

As it was only a short trip across the ditch, when Sunday rolled around, yet another beautiful clean crisp day. I knew it was going to be a jam-packed day. First up we attended Kyra Kyrklund’s Masterclass at Equidays, full details can be viewed here on the previous blog.

I was excited to take the reins on Misty again on day 2, she is such a straight forward filly to drive. Leading the way out on the track with Libby on my tail we pushed the fillies through the gears. We were extremely impressed how the fillies worked today. I was very chuffed with Misty, we both performed better together today over our first drive together on Saturday .

 

trip across the ditch
Misty and Libby

I just can’t believe how wonderful Christchurch’s weather can be, we were incredibly fortunate to experience sunshine over the weekend. Some of our previous visits all we have had is rain, wind and more rain!

Can’t wait for the next trip next month to take the reins with the fillies again! 🙂

Most common myths surrounding the Standardbred: Part 1

common myths surrounding the standardbred

I have long wanted to write about the most common myths about Standardbreds. Having grown up my whole life around them, enjoyed seeing their whole life. From breeding, breaking in, race prep, racing, retiring and starting under saddle.

Which I consider myself fortunate to be a part of many aspects of the breed during their life. I have an understanding about the breed, the mechanics of the breeding and have an understanding and respect for training after racing. Which is the main reason why I have held off for so long on having my opinion about what I believe are the myths about the breed.

Common myths surrounding the standardbred
All Smoked Up and half brother All The Rhythm

I’ll be honest, it used to grind my gears reading the absolute hogwash on social media about the breed. It is unfortunate to witness this hype as many people out there that know little about the breed are quick to pass judgement.

I have learnt to just keep scrolling past, when it comes to any discipline with horses you always are going to find people who are completely left field to yourself. You must learn to respect their way of thinking and way of training, and just put your block eyes on, keep hustling and focusing on your training system and your own horses.  For me this has taken a lot of time and self-discipline to be able to achieve.

So, I thought to myself, why not just put these myths on the table for discussion. I wanted to break down what I believe are the top three myths surrounding the Standardbred over three separate posts. Covering each myth in a bit of detail. I have previously posted a quick overview on the origins of the Standardbred, which I always find fascinating!

-Most common myths surrounding the Standardbred-

-Standardbred’s are trained to pace and trained not to canter-

I hear this one way to often.

To begin, Standardbred’s are a 5-gaited breed. Walk, trot, pace, canter and gallop, naturally they can canter without difficultly. The standardbred is a special breed of horse, thanks to scientists at Sweden’s Uppsala University who discovered a gene called DMRT3. Explaining how Standardbred’s have this DMRT3 gene which allows them to have the ability to pace. New York Times has an interesting article about the discovery of the DMRT3 gene.

Over the last few years learning about self-discipline also my own personal development with my training system, my reaction has changed. I used to dismiss such claims that ‘Standardbred’s would never make a riding horse as they do not have the ability to canter’.

But as I have learnt we are all different, we all have our own views nowadays, I just nod and smile and keep on scrolling on social media. If life has taught me anything thus far, all riders train differently and all horses learn differently. However, you cannot go past the fact that scientifically the horse is a 5-gaited breed.

I hear this comment from two different groups.

One, people who are not involved with the breed and have formed a misconception of the Standardbred.

Two, people who are involved within the breed but only from an “after racing” situation.

What we should remember (or learn for any new Standardbred fans) is when the Standardbred is in race training they’re not hoppled seven days a week forced to pace around and around the track forever and a day. Depending on the trainer and where the horse is up to with its training, they can be “fast worked” 2-3 times a week.

This is mixed up during the week with various training such as incorporating jogging up, swimming, galloping and a day off etc. With the various exercises the Standardbred becomes a fit athlete, capable of trotting, pacing, cantering and galloping.

I believe that many Standardbred riders out there are all individually trying hard to promote the breed with life after racing.  That’s why it is important that we support each other with our journeys, because it is damn hard to get the rest of the equestrian community to sit up and take notice. Especially to take you seriously in open competition.

common myths standardbred

Looking forward to sharing the next two parts to common myths surrounding the Standardbred.

Happy Training 😊

Standardbred Training Survey Results

A while ago a few might recall I had a survey on training with your Standardbred. I have had the time to sit down and really go through the results, thank you to everyone who took part in the survey! It is amazing to put some of these stats together about our training with these beautiful animals.

I would like to share the overall results and break down the results with my detailed thoughts over the next few blog posts. Which I’m TOTALLY looking forward to writing!

Here are the following questions asked that were happily answered by fellow Standardbred riders, thank you again it wasn’t easy for me to put feelers out there and to get an amazing response like this was fantastic!

What is your main concern with your training at this point in time?

Canter transitions – 35%

Getting a balanced trot- 35%

Having trouble with pacing – 25%

Maintaining the canter– 5 %

In addition to the above concerns more specifically people mentioned.

Improving the quality of canter

Struggles with right canter lead

Starting under saddle and transition from racing in harness to pleasure harness

Proper collection, canter transitions are fine

Refusing new jumps

Cantering under saddle

Getting a nice steady trot.

 

How long has your standardbred been under saddle?

Not yet started under saddle – 5%

Under 6 months- 20%

6-12 months– 15%

12-18 months– 10%

18-24 months– 15%

24 months and over – 35%

 

How did you come across your Standardbred?

Through an adoption program (eg SPPHA)-  25%

Purchased from a non-racing home– 45%

Family or friends involved in the industry– 25%

Sourced straight from the track- 5%

 

What State do you live in?

NSW– 30%

VIC- 25%

QLD– 15%

TAS– 10%

SA– 10%

WA– 5%

Other-5%

This next question I REALLY enjoyed reading the answers! 🙂

What is your overall goal with your Standardbred, what is it that you want to succeed at?

I had several people comment with Dressage (riders out of my own heart! High five!).

But with a mix result from endurance riding, adult riding club, a few shows, eventing, low level eventing, high level show jumping, ridden show horse, ambassador for the breed (love this one! ), breed gaited horses and to promote Standardbreds for the gaited horses under saddle, pleasure riding and cantering, and a bit of EVERYTHING. It’s great to read the versatility of disciplines that riders want to succeed at I honestly find it inspiring going through everyone’s comments. It keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing with my riding, training and promoting the breed to the best of my ability.

A few other comments from people in the survey.  Exercises to help with balance and suppleness. How you started, flash back Fridays (Love this one 🙂 ), Anything to help with calming my Standardbred so i can take her to shows, tips on re-training Standardbreds, Re-training Standardbreds and reducing the pacing. How to train them under saddle.

Happy Riding !

🙂

Where did the Standardbred originate from!?

If you have a Standardbred like myself, you’re probably wondering where the breed originated from. I’m sure we have all had comments on our beauties having a striking resemblance to a Thoroughbred or even an Arab. If we are lucky even a Warmblood 😉

I thought to do a little research and a quick summary on the Standardbred history, even though I’ve lived around Standardbred’s most of my life I always find it amazing when I learn something new or even just refreshing my mind.

So,  let’s go back to a horse called Messenger (1780) an English Thoroughbred imported into the United States back in 1788. Who once on arrival into the United States was bred to mares of every type, description and variety. Messenger is the grand sire of a horse called Hambletonian (1849), who’s blood flows through our present-day Standardbred’s. Another standout was a grey mare Lady Suffolk who became the first trotter to run a mile in 2:29 1/2  this was in 1845. Lady Suffolk had previously trotted 2:26 mile under saddle, this wasn’t uncommon to see both harness and saddle races.

While the Standardbred has influential breeding from the Thoroughbreds, there is also quiet the influence from the Morgans. With producing horses, such as Ethan Allen, Justin Morgan and Daniel Lambert. Who produced many fine trotters back in time, however the Morgans had a few faults of their own. They were well known for their small size with most only topping at 14 hands high, also, being trappy-gaited, trotting with virtually a straight up and down action.

Another big influence early on developing the Standardbred was the Barb, influential family of the mid-19th century was the Clays who descended from a Barb stallion what was imported from Tripoli in 1820. He was called Grand Bashaw, from a mare of thoroughbred breeding including one cross to Messenger.

But why are the called a Standardbred?!

Quite simply really, as the breed began to mature and eventually reach a point where it became obvious that something new and exciting was bursting into the equine world. A dedicated farmer John H. Wallace created the American Trotting Register which was first published in 1871. There had to be a standard within this register for all the horses, which, if the horse could meet the standard of speed, trotting a mile in 2:30.

The Standardbred was born. 

The Standardbred breed characteristics reflects similar to the Thoroughbred. Standardbreds don’t stand as tall, on average around 15.2 however with a slightly longer body then the Thoroughbred. The head is refined set on a medium sized neck, the hind quarters  are muscular but sleek. With clean legs, set back well.

As you may have noticed there are two types of Standardbreds, we have trotters and pacers. Pacers are most commonly bred through out Australia.  Paces move their legs on one side of their body in tandem, left front and rear, and right front and rear.