A collection of stories from our members describing their experiences and the enjoyment
they have had with their Standardbred Pleasure Horse.

(If a member would like to submit a story for inclusion on this website, click HERE.)

Page Index
| Spyder | My First Staqndardbred | Bailey's First Show Season | A Standalusian | Too Slow to Race |
My Mare, Cosinera |Ester and Billy Downunder | My Old Joe |

| Ladies Man | Brave Guns | Rocky
  My SRF Horse, Spyder  

My name is Jessica and I adopted my horse, Spyder, from SRF which is how I became a member of SPHO. I am so thrilled and excited to have found this organization to network with others that love this breed just as much as I do. Spyder has been a great horse and A LOT of fun from the very start. He was only under saddle a few times before I got him, but he is so easy going and doesn't have a care about anything you want him to do. He's eager to please and is the smartest, most easy horse I have ever owned. Not always, but we're getting there.

I enjoyed digging up his past and actually found his old owners/breeders contact information. I have gotten a lot of information from them and keep in touch in terms of his new life and progress. Since he's not on the track and racing anymore, it's funny because they think he looks fat. I just call him spoiled! I have enjoyed learning about how he got his name, what his mom is like, seeing all of this baby pictures, and learning more about how he got his scar. It's amazing to me how much is tracked on each and every horse that is registered - even when he came from Canada! He has such a personality that his past owners will never forget him and no one that meets him ever can.

It's been almost a year under saddle and Spyder has come so far. He went from knowing very little to learning how to stop, steer, move off of leg, get on the bit, and he's even gotten the canter down for a few strides. His canter is SO comfortable, too! When I first got him stopping and steering (sort of), we went to an open show at our local 4-h fairgrounds. The judge could not believe that he was so well behaved for 4, and we won grand champion because of it! I hope to do some clinics with SPHO and refine the basics that he's learned so quickly. It's fun to show off all that we've learned and taught each other because we've become a good team. It's not always easy with a young horse, but the effort is worth it and the breed is so forgiving.

This is my second Standardbred (I had one when I was little) and they have by far been the most trusting and fun breed that I have had. Although both were pacers, and people want to believe they only pace, both of mine knew a lot about trotting and cantering.

This organization and SRF have put me in touch with other people that love and care about the breed. The networking, advice, and knowledge has been overwhelmingly helpful and have given me so much encouragement to keep on moving forward. I can't wait to get to more clinics, train for the show ring, and hit the trails. This breed has so much to offer!


My First Standardbred

Hello, my name is Caroline Letts and I am a member of the SPHO. I am 13 years old and I started riding when I was 9 years old. My horse Connor’s Girl is the first and only Standardbred I have had but she is the best horse I have ever had.

We have learned so much together and I love her to death.

When I first started riding her I wasn’t sure if I would be able to ride her in any canter classes so we practiced every day that I rode and at my first show we entered 2 canter classes and did very well in them. This year we have also done very well in our shows and have started cantering cross rails and verticals in them.

Now I have been riding her for about a year and a half and we have accomplished so much together and we are doing better than ever! I don’t know what I would do without her and I would not be as far in my riding experiences without her. I even think she has taught me more than I have taught her over the past year.


Bailey's First Show Season-2004 - By Dominique Walkowitz

My name is Dominique Walkowitz and I've been riding horses for 13 years. I started taking lessons with Kim Wolny in 1991 and took lessons up until 4 years ago and now ride with my mother, Kristina DeSantis, at Kim's farm.

My mother just started riding again after 20 years, and we knew it was finally time to get our own horse. I've been riding Joe a standardbred at Kim's farm, and I fell in love with him. Since my mother and I wanted to ride together, we needed another horse. I wanted one with the same sweet temperament as Joe. We knew we wanted a standardbred because they are such a wonderful breed. They are so willing to learn and try new things. They have a better disposition than a lot of other breeds and are very versatile. They will jump, go on trails, great show horses, beautiful gaits--they just seem perfect. That's when our search for our standardbred began.

In April of 2004 we were looking to adopt through the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. The day we were going to send the application in someone mentioned to Kim that they knew a woman selling a standardbred. Her name, Kirsten Milton, was the owner of Super King, a champion trotter. His son is Royal Millbank who she was selling. My mother, Kim and I went to Kirsten's farm to see if he was what we were looking for. We rode him around her farm and knew immediately he was the one for us.

We have had him for almost a year and have renamed him Bailey. We only intended to ride him for pleasure on the trails when we first got him, but he is so beautiful, we had to show him to everyone. We decided at the end of last summer to show him. We entered the New Jersey Bred Show in September. It was the first time we did anything like this and we were both very nervous, but I think we helped each other through it. He did very well and won a fourth place ribbon which I thought was very good for our first time. We went on to enter Bailey in the Standardbred Show at the end of September and it seemed we were both much calmer and knew what to expect. We won a third place ribbon and were very happy with that. As time goes by, we'll get better, more confident and relaxed. I think we're going to enter again for the upcoming 2005 show season and see how we do.

My mother and I never could have predicted that we would find such a great horse. We couldn't be happier and we love Bailey very much. He is very sweet, gentle and seems to love it when we come to see him. When he sees us coming, he walks right over to us which makes us happy that he is as happy with us as we are with him.

Our First Ride/Drive-2005

My mother and I went on our first ride/drive in August and weren't quite sure what to expect. Our horses have never ridden on trials outside of our own barn before, but we decided to try different things with Bailey this year and get him out and around with other horses.

I ride Joe, a horse I half-lease, and have been riding about 4 years. He has never been away from our barn since he raced about 8 years ago. I was very nervous about how he was going to react and how he would be on a new outside trail. As long as Joe and Bailey are together, they do very well. They keep each other calm and relaxed. We were very happy with how they did on unfamiliar trails. We both had lots of fun riding such a nice trail. Somewhere different and a place where you didn''t have to worry about hunters or children on bikes.

We really didn't enter to compete, we just did it "for the fun of riding" on a new trail to see different scenery and just get the horses out with other horses on new trails. We went to have a good time and we did. It was a lot of fun and the trails were really nice.



A STANDALUSIAN???? - By Jane Meggitt

When my 34 year old quarter horse died last year, I wasn't in any hurry to replace him. I had other horses, and near the end of his life he had been a lot of work. Still, when my friend Bill Blume told me about a horse he was fostering for SRF, I was intrigued. Bill went on about what a beautiful, good-natured, potentially athletic animal this was; he claimed he could be mistaken for an Andalusian. Right, a Standardbred who looks like an Andalusian. Well, it couldn't hurt to look ...and, of course, the rest is history.

I adopted the gorgeous grey "Belacani" (aka "Diego" to keep the Spanish theme going), and took him back to my boarding barn in Millstone. My "Standalusian" is everything I could want in a horse. Although he is very green, he has already proven himself to be an eager trail horse. We have been working on pleasure driving, and hope to do more of that this year.

He did have issues, mainly as a result of foundering as a reaction to gelding. The advice at the time was to put him down, but dedicated owners and caregivers, the SRF and Bill decided to give him a chance. Right now he is sound with special shoeing, and my farrier thinks he should come back 100%. Thanks to everyone involved with Belacani (which means "beautiful dog" in Italian, and that does describe his personality) who enabled me to have this wonderful, good-looking, versatile horse.

Too Slow To Race - By Helene Gregory

Taurmade came to me a cold November night in 2001. My husband called me from the Harrisburg, PA sale and told me to get a stall ready at Showplace Farms. He had bought us a trotting yearling.

(Little did he know he just bought me a riding horse.)

Not that we did not try. The horse was trained to be a racehorse for two years, but we had to give it up, he was just too slow. So, in the summer of 2003, when the horse was supposed to race and win The Hambletonian (in my dreams), he was introduced to his new career as a riding horse.

As the perfect gentleman he is, the breaking under saddle was a breeze. We did some extensive trail riding and even jumped the occasional jumps out in the woods. He was doing great, and we had a good time together both trail riding and showing in some Standardbred shows.

After about six months, I started taking dressage lessons with Guilene Mallard. I thought the horse was so young, and if this was what his new career was going to be, he should learn in the right way. I am not a schooled rider either so I thought I would learn something also. I was ready to quit after two lessons....But Guilene as the wonderful, positive person she is, kept my spirits up, and after about two months of training, we were showing intro level dressage.

This year, 2005, we are working on training level dressage, which includes cantering, and if you ask me or Guilene, none of us thought he could do that a year ago. He is such a quick learner and this horse has the biggest heart. He really tries so hard to please me even though the stuff we do does not come easy to him.

That is a bigger reward then all the blue ribbons in the world.



My Mare, Cosinera - By Barbara Evenson

A few years ago after euthanizing my best pal, King, a Tennessee Walking Horse, friends of mine (who were standardbred owners themselves) suggested I contact the Standardbred Retirement Foundation to find my next horse.   Since I was only interested in a gaited horse, I thought it was a good idea. I liked the idea of adopting a horse who needed a home.   The process was not difficult, and before I knew it, I was out looking and riding standardbreds available for adoption.  

When I first saw Cosinera (aka Coming on Strong), I couldn’t believe my eyes.   She was 18 years old, 16H, light bay, well muscled and full of life.    After taking her on a trail ride, I decided she was the one for me.   Within a short time, she was transported to her new boarding facility in Howell where I started doing some retraining.

It seemed she forgot there were other gaits besides the galllop, i.e., walk, trot and pace.   She liked these gaits and wasn’t much interested in re-learning to do them.   (When they say mares can have a one-track mind, that’s my Cosinera.)   It took 3 solid months of riding solo on the trails to remind her that pacing, trotting and walking could be fun too. As a matter of fact, she has the smoothest pace imaginable--I feel like I'm floating. This was a great learning experience for me and certainly improved my riding skills too.

No one told me that standardbreds NEVER GET TIRED and have more stamina and vigor than humans. We eventually had a meeting of the minds (at least I like to think so), and she now will perform all gaits when asked.   Well, almost always.

She is now 25 years old and still goes and goes and goes like the Energizer Bunny.   I suspect our next venture might be Competitive or Endurance Trail Riding since she certainly has the stamina for it.  

Adopting a standardbred has been the best experience.   I highly recommend it.



Ester and Billy from "Downunder" - By Ester Worrall

Hi, my name is Ester and I live is Rosebud, Australia. I have owned my standardbred, Billy, for just over a year and I don't think I could have a better horse. He is the most gentle loving horse I have ever met. He follows me around the paddock everywhere and tries to groom me like another horse.

We recently competed in a combined training day. In dressage, we had to do trotting and cantering and lots of hard manevours. We scored a 92 out of 130. Then, in showjumping we went clear and then placed 2nd overall. I was so proud of Billy. He is the most gorgeous horse ever.

When we first bought him, he was skinny and covered in sores, but we fattened him up and then began retraining him. He is the most willing horse and just wants to please me all the time. His trot is absolutely beautiful, his canter exceptional and he has a nice gentle walk. Everyone who meets him is amazed to hear he is a standardbred because he is so beautiful.

I think Billy is the perfect example of what a standardbred is capable of and is an honour to the standardbred.


My Old Joe - By Deb Covalesky

My husband said if I gave up my 3 packs of cigarettes a day, he'd buy my kids a horse. I wanted this really bad and now have been smoke free for a year and a half. I went to look at an 11 year old Quarter Horse who was very beautiful and sweet, but in the same pasture was this 26 year old extremely thin and lethargic Standardbred. This poor old boy didn't even hold his head up to look at you. The woman said she was taking him to auction (you all know where he would've gone), but if I wanted him, I could just have him.

When my husband saw this poor thing, he asked me what was I thinking? He had been pin fired on both back legs and had gray hair on his face from a halter being left on too tight for too long. I fattened him up, put him on some Fluid Flex, got his hooves in shape and gave him all the TLC and cookies he could possibly want or need.

I still want a smoke every day, but now I go out to see my "Old Joe". When I look into those big brown eyes, the urge is gone. I was talking to a trainer one day and told him I saved Joe's life, and he said that if I gave up 3 packs a day to keep him, he saved my life--Never thought of it that way.

My son rides him around the paddock, but it's okay with me if he's just a beautiful lawn ornament. We did some research on his tatoo and his true name in Liberty Baron and raced as a 2 and 3 year old. Would love a picture of him in his prime even though he is very beautiful to me now. I can't imagine him even prettier. He is a joy in our lives that I can't explain. One thing is for sure--he deserves to live safe and happy the rest of his days--I will see to that!



Hank--My Dark, Tall and Handsome Gentleman - By Beth Wilhelm

My Mom, who owns Old Joe, got me hooked on standardbreds. So when Susan Wellman of the Standardbred Adoption Program here in IL emailed me and asked if I knew anyone who could take in two ASAP, I knew I had to help.

Hank, who's registered name is Bull Kennedy, came to live with me in July 2006. It was 4th of July weekend, and I believe that was the first time I really understood what "FREEDOM" meant. The weekend before my Mom and I went to look at what was suppose to be two fat and healthy Standardbreds up for adoption. When we got out of the car, I was shocked to see two of the prettiest sets of eyes staring at me, then I realized that the eyes were set on two very starved horses. For my Mom to turn to me and say "Beth, you have to get them out of here" sent chills up and down my spine. Luckily, I had just re-homed a horse that I took in as a rescue so I had an open stall for one of them, and my rescue buddy, took the other one. We picked them up on July 4th weekend and took them to the best vet in the whole world--who also happens to be my boss. She wasn't really shocked when she came out to see them (as I am known for taking in very needy horses). She was expected to work her miracles on them. She pulled them in, checked them over, did their teeth, gave them their shots (which hadn't been done in over 6 years) and told me that there was nothing wrong with either one of them except that they had been deprived of food. Their body condition scores were 2.

We took Hank home the next day. He thought he went to heaven. We slowly built him up on his grain and gave him all the hay he could eat! He is doing great now! He still gets all the hay he can eat, along with as many cookies as I can fit into my pocket! He is nosey and he'll check all of my pockets just to make sure I didn't forget to give him one. When he finally realizes there aren't anymore, he'll look at me like I hurt his feelings.

I'm not big on riding. I prefer to take care of them and do everything else from the ground so he is one of my beautiful lawn ornaments. If I have a friend or little kid that wants to ride, I'll put them up on him and Hank won't move with them on his back unless you walk him. He knows what's going on. Hank will be in the SHOW OF BREEDS at the Illinois Horse Fair in March 2007. We will hopefully be riding in to get people excited and educated about the breed. Even though he can be a big grumpy butt, he sure does know how to melt hearts with his big beautiful brown eyes. Hopefully, he'll help people realize what exceptional horses Standardbreds are.

I had never taken in one as "needy" as Hank before. We have been through a lot in these last few months. I have done a lot of "firsts" thanks to him. The best thing Hank has shown me is that even when you are at your lowest, there will always be people...and horses...to help pick you up and get you going again. Thanks, Hank, for everything!



My Ladies Man - Chai Mister - By Suzanne D'Ambrose

When I was riding at a horse farm in Wall Township, I always rode a chestnut quarter horse that belonged to a friend.

One day I asked about a bay, with big handsome eyes, who looked lonely. I was told his owner had not been around in months. I gave him a good grooming and found out he was a 20 year old Standardbred named Mister. I started to ride him, and WOW, was he "green", but being a trotter, his trot was fast and exciting. I soon discovered that he had teeth problems that were never corrected and the cost was $350. I paid for them to be done and that was the beginning of my connection with Mister.

Since board had not been paid in months, I offered to pay my friend for his hay and grain since I found I enjoyed riding him. I used a bitless bridle on him, and since his lower teeth stick out, his tongue is always hanging out. It is so funny.

Soon I made the legal purchase of a big one dollar and adopted Chai Mister. I soon discovered that he was foaled and trained to harness race--20 years prior--from a friend named Phil Klein. Mister is a Jersey Bred and has Nevele Pride blood in him. Mister qualified, but did not race, since he had some breathing issues that would not be good for the track.

Mister loves to hack around the riding ring and trail ride. He is 25 years old now and is still the King of the Field. He loves his mares, and his field mate, Flight Deck Lex. When "human" girls are around him, he is just the "ladies man". His big eyes entice them to rub him and feed him snacks. He even suckers me into spoiling him!!!


Intended Racehorse - Brave Guns - By Karen Groth-Baggitt

Brave Guns is trotting bred by Angus Hall, he was foaled in Canada in 2001. My husband bought him as a yearling, he was intended to be a racehorse, not my riding horse. Brave Guns had speed, but he would make breaks and try to run off of the track in the turns. He only raced at two and three. I think at age four my husband even gave him to other trainers to see if they could get him to stay flat (trotting) and qualified to race. At some point Brave Guns developed a chip in his knee. He had surgery and was turned out to recuperate. We figured Brace Guns just wasn't cut out to be a racehouse. My husband put him into training at Cedarview Farm, the owner/trainer of which is affiliated with the Monmouth County Hunt. I started riding him in the fall of 2005.

Our first trail ride was during a Hunt Clinic with the Monmouth County Hunt in September 2006. We rode with the slower paced Hilltop group. Brave Guns was familiar with wide open, flat tracks, not narrow, winding hilly trails. He was very skittish on the trails with bushes touching him and branches and leaves rustling underfoot. There were two water crossings that took quite a bit of coaxing to get him across. By the end of the ride, I was exhausted even though we did not jump and walked the majority of the course.

What a difference a year makes! At the 2007 clinic we stayed with the faster, jump everything group of riders. We had a blast. We even jumped over some coops, which I find intimidating. At our 2007 SPHO National Show, we went from having a time-out (ordered to the center of the ring by the judge) for safety reasons--bucking, to placing 2nd in Hunter over Fences!

Around the barn Brave Guns is friendly and a pleasure to work with. He is a willing jumper and seems to enjoy jumping. He always has his ears up, rarely refuses, and everyone is always telling me how "cute" he is over fences!



Rocky - What's a Standardbred? - By Sam Siequien, Essex, England

Well, I got Rocky 2 years ago this April 12, 2008. For L850. I never knew anything about his breed so I didn't know what I was taking on.

The first time I rode him, I was like WOW what a well behaved horse. Then came his pace and I was so shocked, but I got used to it in the end. To be honest, I don't like it, but with loads of work and trotting poles, he is really trotting well. He still does his pace now and again, and my God, can he jump.

Up until I found the SPHO-NJ website, I was positive I was going to sell him, but reading all your stories has made me realize GOD WHAT AM I THINKING! Rocky is about 15.3H and the funniest horse ever and so loving. If I sit next to him, he puts his hoof on my leg so I can rub it. My son, age 4, and brother, age 6, ride him and Rocky loves the kids. Thank you for taking the time to make this site. If you hadn't, I would have sold my boy. Thank you so much x x x




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