When you go to a fair to race, you’re really reminded of what harness racing is all about.
The old men in easy chairs chatting as you enter. A grandmother in a wheelchair greeted with such deference and respect by everyone.
…Regular drivers, many who are silent competitors on the bigger tracks, become once again old friends, with much teasing, handshakes and laughter.
Little tykes, scooting quickly about as horses go in and out to race. Kittens sparring by the stalls.
No one young or old minded the torrential rains that poured down, the esteemed judges urging “safety first”, then…as the rain grew ever harder, dispensing with the starting car altogether, and declaring a “gentleman’s start”!
Nervous young drivers, getting valuable experience and tutelage from older mentors, leaning closer to whisper to them, before each race.
I drank it all in… as I sat with Rocky, and savored it.
It was something we thought we would always have, but now realizing how it may be fleeting, and come to an end one day. The Horse Himself was their center without question, each one taken care of, as a prized companion.
As we ate bbq and brats in the gritty mud, we felt like royalty. This is how harness racing started, and how at least this part of harness racing was meant to be. Lord, please keep the fair racing around!!
**this was originally posted on Facebook, permission granted for photos.
Just like the Vulcan saying, it looks like Standardbreds tend to live long happy lives after their racing days. …In case you’ve read the negative type of articles which have been recently going around, here’s a quick roll call after only one afternoon in overwhelming response to a Facebook Wanted Post in the Preserve Harness Racing group. Enjoy!
** cover photo: Crumb Hustler lived to be over 40 years old. Raced at Rosecroft Raceway. Omie Brown took care of her father’s horse up on the hill from the track, at the historic Miller farm. She lunged him gently each day to keep him fit.
“Fulla Fire is now 16 and we have done so much!! He’s been at school exhibition. He’s been at the fair to be petted and fed carrots. He’s been in nursing homes Christmas caroling now 6 times. I ride him at the ocean. We recently joined bunch of quarterhorses for a 10 mile trail ride by Maine trail riders association. He will do anything you throw in front of him without any hesitation. He’s my rockstar! Fulla Fire has his own Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FullaFire/ There’s tons of photos!
”This is my guy Shag. He’s been doing 50 mile endurance events for 4 years. He’s a homebred who was never on the track, but was used for speed racking for years.”
“Teddy’s registered name is Inaugural Affair, in his mid 20’s, a Presidential Ball son. He just goes loose in the yard and gets into things mostly.”
“Here’s Hula Lu, 13 yr old, retired sound after 320 starts. she made approximately 90K in 8 1/2 years.”
Anita also has Brookview Charger who had “a rather dismal racing career. He’s 20 now and a fantastic trail horse. he was a speed racking horse for years as well.”
Linda Laudeman Taylor:
“BAD COMPANY—-Went on to become Grand Champion Roadster Class winner at PA. National Horse Show in 1984. Lived to 32.”
Micheal DI Gati:
“Birthday Toy!! She’s my Pride and Joy!! My Favorite Toy!❤️❤️❤️ Raced her until she was 6 … and now my Riding Partner!”
“Witch Hazel is a 3yr standardbred filly. Never made it to races, but I got her for $400 and she’s been to Devon and other high ranked horse shows, where she holds her own against warmbloods and the like, that cost more than 20 times what she did!”
“And here’s Pacific Western on his way to Newark PD for Police horse training!!”
“I am an ex race horse trainer. When I got out of the business, I found my broodmares homes, and I still have my stallion, Laagendazz, that I couldn’t find a home for! He was 4 when he couldn’t race anymore. So I have fed and cared for him for the last 20 years knowing he would do nothing but look nice in the field! Most horse owners care deeply about their horses!”
”We have one now, Winbak Red, who was 13 when he retired, he now is at a farm down the road from our house. We rent the field and go everyday to care for him. Justin calls him our lawn ornament!”
“ I have two retirees; one 20 and the other 17 at home. And we have retired/adopted many ex-racers through New Vocations. All our horses are listed with Full Circle, and can be returned to us any time during their lives, no questions asked. Ending racing will deal a blow to the equine population in the US, and perhaps Canada.”
“I have Armbro Brando and Stelerbration, they’re a joy! Stelerbration is 24 and Brando is 18.”
Standardbred Retirement Foundation SRF
”The”Brainiac Breed” is very popular with Mounted Police units!
Check this out…SRF Standardbreds adopted to just one unit in NY, Nuke Suave, Dodge Ball, Cheyenne Michael, Justatravelingcam, Mowtown Express, Park City, Victory Glider K and Passerby!
Did you know that SRF has 55 Standardbreds adopted to mounted patrol units such as Sheriffs’ Departments in Texas, Philadelphia Police, Morris County Parks, Newark Police, NYC and many more! SO proud of these fuzzy noses! Super temperament-adopt one, get your application in today at AdoptaHorse.org/ “
S Baker & Dana West:
“Dana and I bred Colonel Barnes ‘Oscar’ He wasn’t fast enough and he has now found a good home and a new job. A business owner was delivering a prefab shed to us, and he and Dana were talking about our horses. The next thing I know, he said he would give Oscar a home pulling a carriage. No funds were exchanged only ONE STIPULATION: If or when they should not be able to keep him for any reason, he is to come back to us. It was hard to let him go, as we usually keep them till they pass away, but he now has been rehomed for a second job!
“Cammie, a 20year old. Homes are found or they stay with me.”
The thoroughbred people are doing similarly-
“I have a 27 year old OTTB from Charles Town that enjoyed a 2nd career as a hunter jumper, a 3rd as dressage and eventing at VA Intermont college and then at 19 years old, we found him, and he helped my daughter through the loss of her big brother – so 4th career is family – forever.”
“Jacob’s Money retired due to a breathing problem, and at a farm near Vernon. They love him. Trail rides and giving riding lessons!”
Susan Greenberg Merryman:
About her aspiring endurance horse- “My boy came from a mutual friend! His owner on the track was Katherine Smith and his trainer was Brooke Nickells! Majestic now 10, by Mach Three with a lifetime mark of 1:51, we adopted him in 2016 when he was coming seven. We trail ride him a lot and are working on dressage.”
Shannon Schlotzhauer Stafford:
“This is Portrait, now 12, a well loved race horse making a difference as a therapy horse. He has such a gentle soul. From the time our son could walk, Portrait let him do anything, he would even hold up his back feet so our son could paint them. When he was no longer competitive, we knew he could make a difference in someone’s life. Now he reaches many people.”
“Here’s Indian Hill Mojoe, born at my place, my husband and I broke and raced him, now he’s my number one trail horse. He’s as tough as they come, an I love him to death.”
“Our little Lexi (Keystone Alexis) raced at Ocean Downs and Rosecroft. She went on to Starting Gaits Transition where she was discovered by Agape as a therapy horse. She was recently highlighted and enjoys support from the Indiana harness Racing industry.”
Stephanie L Gray:
“Art By Keene. Racing, showing and just plain retired. He was 2014 National SPHO In Hand Champion. I had big plans for him, he made other plans. We do have a 2yo colt and 3yo filly he sired. They are not turning out to be much as race horses, however, I love them both dearly. At least they’re pretty.”
Below: “His 3yo filly, Sterling The Pot aka Ena and His 2yo colt, Kickstart My Art aka Junior.”
Katy Reynolds Bradford:
“Here’s That’s Hall Folks, a fifteen year old gelding who raced for nine years. He’s a sweet trail and family horse, with so much personality. I think the best way to describe him is an uncomplicated gentleman,” below a shadow shot of this horse riding bareback and bitless!
“East Meets West. We started endurance in 2009. Eli has over 1000 endurance miles and over 500 ld miles. He was the 2011 USTA Endurance Horse of the Year. He has also completed two 75 mile rides.”
“I adopted Artdotcam (AKA “Bubba”) in the spring of 2012 from his owners. Bubba was a successful harness racer before he was retired from the track and started under saddle. I’m not a “trainer” by any means; I was just a lady who was looking for her first “very own horse”.
After many, many hours and miles in the saddle, he has become an awesome trail horse that even my non-horsey husband rides! Bubba even occasionally goes with me to work in the State Forests (I work for the Maryland Forest Service) to do trail work & maintenance.
I have posted about our many adventures, including pictures, over the years. I stay connected with his owners and they follow his life and care closely. “
“My love. Winners Only, retired from both racing and breeding ❤ because even when they are no longer breedable they still have a purpose, even if it’s only to be our companions.”
“This is Wally Dragon. He’s 13 years old and retired from the track when he was 5 years old. I have only recently become his human partner, before me, Wally spent his off track years doing single and double harness, some gymkhana and pleasure riding. This photos is Wally and I, taken at our very first long distance riding event. I am now training Wally to be an endurance horse.”
“This is Purple Durple. Shes 15 years old. Retired when she was 7 years old. After a short try in the sport of endurance, Purple made it clear that she didn’t want to go fast anymore, so now she is living her life as a steady trail horse . This picture is of Purple and her other human Odile taken during a parade.”
“Always Virginia now living in Texas and being driven and ridden for fun, and teaching young kids how to groom and care for horses. There are so many more….”
“My first two Standardbreds now living their retirement here at home Virginia. One is 21 the other 18. They do no work other than keep us happy.”
That’s all for now folks! From endurance riding to the Police force to the show ring, or treasured companions, Standardbreds are quite talented and versatile. In addition, it looks like the harness horsemen have a great passion and respect for the star of the show, the Standardbred horse. Check out more at the USTrotting Association’s Life After Racing page.