You’re in the Continental Army Now! by Maja Hassinger

If Ben had managed to act as though he had been reenacting the Revolutionary War for years, Cash would have you thinking he had been doing it for decades.
If Ben had managed to act as though he had been reenacting the Revolutionary War for years, Cash would have you thinking he had been doing it for decades.
The 1st Continental Light Dragoons, also known as Bland’s Horse, was a mounted regiment of the U.S. Continental Army.

I had a pony as a little girl. A tiny, ancient pony, given to us by an older gentleman whose children had outgrown her. My dad used to saddle her up, and I would sit in my little western saddle with my cowboy hat on. The pony wouldn’t move half the time, but I was practically a baby and never noticed or cared that we stood in one spot until my dad got bored and said that riding time was over.

My husband, Brian, had a more exciting childhood around horses. His grandfather raised and raced Standardbreds. The house his grandmother still lives in today was built from the earnings of one horse in particular, Goody’s Pride. But the horse raising days ended by the time Brian was a teenager, and his family had moved to the city. This was the extent of our horse experiences when we decided to dive into the world of horses again.

Ladies love a Standardbred!
Ladies love a Standardbred!
Brian and I met through a Revolutionary War reenactment organization called the North West Territory Alliance. The NWTA is a Midwestern based organization that was founded in the 1970s, and hosts several Revolutionary War reenactments from late May to mid-October. Brian has been reenacting from a young age with his father, and I was introduced to the “hobby” through extended family. Brian and my cousin were part of a military unit portraying cavalry, or Dragoons, and always lamented that horses were not allowed to participate in reenactments. Wearing the cool uniforms, and wearing Dragoon riding boots is fun, but there was always something missing.

Campaigns to introduce horses to the NWTA were attempted several times throughout the years, but it wasn’t until the 2015 season that there seemed to be a really good chance of the board voting to give horses a shot, thanks to the intense efforts of the 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons, 5th Troop. The board meeting to vote on allowing horses into the NWTA was in November of 2015, and the motion passed with flying colors. It was time to get thinking about actually participating in historical camps and battles with our horses.

With the prospect of finally having horses participate in reenactments, it a was time to start looking for our first horse. It took us a little while to find Ben. We knew that we wanted a younger horse, one that we could grow old with and reenact with for years and years, and that the horse had to be a solid color for period-correctness. But that is about all we knew, and the advice and opinions were flowing from all of our horse-owning friends and acquaintances. Age, breed, temperament, price, adopt or shop – everyone had something to say.

The owner of the riding stable were we took lessons pointed Ben out to us in October of 2015. He was a recently retired Standardbred, known as “Won Nine” and he was beautiful. I’m not ashamed to admit that was my first thought, before wondering what “green broke” meant. There was a video of him walking down a lane with a tiny child riding him, her mother walking calmly beside them and not touching the horse. Ben was young, he was an ex-racehorse, and he was green. He was basically everything we had been warned against, but he was a Standardbred and we had been reading up on their temperaments which seemed exactly in line with our reenacting needs. Steady, level-headed, bombproof. So we went to meet him, fell in love, and brought him home the same day.

Brian had been taking weekly riding lessons for about 6 months when we adopted Ben, I had MAYBE gotten 3 lessons under my belt. We spent the winter working on teaching ourselves and Ben how to be a team and how to move and trot under saddle without looking like a gangling teenage boy rushing home to beat curfew while stone drunk. It was definitely not an overnight process.

Members of the 1st Dragoons demonstrate a saber charge.
Members of the 1st Dragoons demonstrate a saber charge.
In addition to transitioning Ben from driving to riding, we worked on desensitizing Ben over the winter, in preparation for sights and sounds he might encounter while in camp and on the battlefield. We got help from trainers and other stable boarders and thought we were in good shape. Pool noodles, flags and pop-guns didn’t faze our amazing boy. We were ready for the first reenacting event of the season. Or so we thought. Due mostly to the level-headedness of the Standardbred, Ben’s first event went off amazingly well. He handled gunfire, canon blasts, smoke, running and shouting men, large billowing skirts, campfires, loudspeakers, crowds, and a picket line as if he had been doing this for years. We got compliments left and right on his well-mannered behavior, and we never looked back. He was the perfect Ambassador for horses in the NWTA.

Our goal was never to permanently board Ben, and when we got him, we had been advised that his one vice was jumping fences to avoid being in a pasture alone. So, we knew that we would eventually be shopping for Horse #2. Our reenactment group had several breeds represented: A Tennessee Walker, an Appendix Quarter Horse, Foundation stock Quarter horses, and even a Mustang. But thanks to Ben, we knew we wanted to stick with Standardbreds. We had gotten Ben from Starting Gaits: Standardbred Transition Program, and when I started casually asking about horses in the program Mandi Cool, the Executive Director of the program, quickly suggested Cash. Cash, or Sharp Money as he was known, was a year younger than Ben, but described by Mandi as an “old soul” with what she thought would be the best temperament for reenacting. We talked about him for a couple weeks, but the timing was off and he went to another adopter. But fate was on our side because in the spring of 2016, Cash came back to Starting Gaits right about the time we were ready to bring home Horse #2.

Mandi had originally planned to keep Cash for trail riding, but soon discovered that he had a locking stifle when asked to rack, so she needed him to go into a home where he would be asked to trot instead. Cash was pokey, gentle, and had the kindest eyes. In adopting Cash, we were able to move Ben out of the boarding stable and into our backyard. Again, the forgiving nature of our boys has been a blessing as we learned what having horses in the backyard really means. Especially when we realized that Cash was going to need surgery on his locking stifles\ a couple months after bringing him home. Surgery was a breeze, and my gentle giant was a gentleman every time I poked and prodded him in an attempt to keep it clean and happy.

Cash missed several reenactment events at the beginning of the season due to his locking stifle and subsequent recovery time. When we finally got to bring him out, I was starting to worry that we couldn’t possibly be so lucky twice. Ben was so good for his first event; could we hope the same for Cash?

Both horse were rock solid while black powder pistols were shot off them.
Both horse were rock solid while black powder pistols were shot off them.
Well, he blew us all out of the water with his performance. Mandi really knows how to match a horse with his second career. If Ben had managed to act as though he had been reenacting the Revolutionary War for years, Cash would have you thinking he had been doing it for decades. His first military training demonstration was nothing short of a miracle. He was ridden by another member of our unit, and you would never have known it was their first ride together. He experienced his first time having a black powder pistol fired from his back before the demo, just to see if he could participate in that part of the show. His only reaction to the sound of the shot and sight and smell of the smoke was to look back at his rider to find out what was going on. He didn’t move otherwise. Ben and Cash were the only 2 horses present for that demo, and without a “senior” horse to look to for guidance, they advanced unwaveringly towards a firing line while blank rounds were shot off in the air. They weaved in and out of a line of soldiers, they rode toward targets with sabers drawn and calmly handled their riders slicing open watermelons from the saddle. They were rock stars. After the excitement of the training demonstration, they stood calmly at the edge of the crowds, while their riders answered questions from the onlookers and walked back to camp from the battlefield as though they had finished a lazy Sunday trail ride.

Ben and Cash are quick to make friends.
Ben and Cash are quick to make friends.
All of the horses in the 1st Dragoons have done an amazing job of paving the way for more horses within the NWTA, our boys included. Sure, there have been hiccups. Like the time a pistol was fired too close to Cash’s ear (although, the only reaction he gave was a really dirty look back at his rider), or Ben got a bit too excited by the charge at a line of infantry and thought it was a race to the finish line. But all in all, they have been champions of the Standardbred breed and made true believers out of more than just Brian and myself. It takes a special kind of horse to be level-headed in the conditions of even a “mock” war, and the Standardbred has proven to be the perfect war horse. We hope to be able to take the horses out on the battlefield next year and use the training gained in the demonstrations to put on a spectacular show.

During the off season, our boys continue training for battle. We are focusing on neck reining and sword fighting. When the horses get to take part in the battles as opposed to the demonstrations, there is almost always a good sword fight on horseback, with shiny, flashing blades and lots of good old-fashioned clanging. But we also let them relax and enjoy weekly trail rides through the local park. They are a truly versatile breed. Adopting our off-track Standardbreds was the best decision Brian and I could have made.

UMares by Cassie Astle

The University Drill Team practices hard to represent their school with pride.  They have drilled in front of crowds at University of Maine in Orono, the Hollywood Casino Raceway in Bangor, during the Maine Animal Club Spring Fling Horse Show at the Witter Center in Old Town, and the graduating Senior students have done a ride each year at Witter the day before graduation.  Additionally, they have performed at the Downeast Horse Show in Skowhegan, the Common Ground Fair in Unity and Scarborough Downs racetrack in Scarborough, Maine.
The University Drill Team practices hard to represent their school with pride. They have drilled in front of crowds at University of Maine in Orono, the Hollywood Casino Raceway in Bangor, during the Maine Animal Club Spring Fling Horse Show at the Witter Center in Old Town, and the graduating Senior students have done a ride each year at Witter the day before graduation. Additionally, they have performed at the Downeast Horse Show in Skowhegan, the Common Ground Fair in Unity and Scarborough Downs racetrack in Scarborough, Maine.
In most college courses, students are assigned a textbook. For the Equine Management Cooperative class at the University of Maine, students are assigned a horse. This unique course uses donated Standardbred mares as a teaching tool to allow students the opportunity to train a horse and learn hands-on veterinary techniques. Currently, the JF Witter Center (the UMaine livestock facility) houses 13 mares and one stallion that have all been trained for harness racing but now need a new career.

The Standardbred retraining program at UMaine emerged in 1998, developed by Dr. Robert Causey and Dr. Jim Weber. There is a constant source of suitable horses due to the proximity of the Bangor Raceway where sulky races are held. The Equine program accepts donations of Standardbred mares, under the age of ten, that are sound and have a tractable temperament. Most of them did race and have either been retired, or deemed not competitive enough for racing.

Roadshow Hall, the resident stud, raced for 7 years and earned nearly a half million dollars. His lifetime mark is 1:57:2 which is made even more impressive because it was on a half-mile track which means the horse has to 4 turns to make rather than 2 on an mile track. The University has owned 3 race horses (Venus Of Milo, One Vine Lady and Pembroke Whiteout) since the inception of the program. Any winnings the racing mares have procured have gone right back into the program to care for the horses in the Witter barn.

Training an ex-harness racer to ride is not much different from training any other horse to ride. The biggest hurdle is that the Standardbred have been specifically trained to not canter so they get a little confused when the trainer begins to ask for it. Standardbreds CAN canter, it is a misconception that they don’t. The breed has been genetically focused to have a strong trot or pace, so the quality of the canter sometimes suffers, but they are all capable of cantering and do so naturally.

The UMares, as they are affectionately called, are also used as mounts for the University Drill Team. Riders on the team ride the UMares in performances all over the state at horse shows, racetracks and local fairs. The Drill Team riders and students in the co-op class work in the barn doing daily stable chores. Each week they have training sessions with Cassie Astle, the equine trainer, where the progress of the horse is evaluated and new exercises are assigned for the student trainers to practice during the week.

The success of the program is due to the donors generosity and concern for the horses’ well-being that they are willing to donate the horses rather than try to sell them but also because of the students’ dedication. Many times, students will end up doing extra work with their assigned horses and spend any free time at the barn. The best outcome is when a student becomes so bonded with his or her assigned mare that the horse ends up being purchased by, and “graduating” with that student.

The Standardbred retraining program not only gives the students hands-on experience, but it benefits the horses as well. They get excellent care while in the program and after 3 years are sold to good homes. What’s better than going to school and doing homework on the back of a horse?

Amy Dietart on Pembroke Cheer at the Downeast Horse Congress in Skowhegan ME.
Amy Dietart on Pembroke Cheer at the Downeast Horse Congress in Skowhegan ME.

Melissa Hawkes riding Straight N Narrow
Melissa Hawkes riding Straight N Narrow

Adding A Touch of Class

touch-of-classPennsbury Manor has adopted Touch of Class, a 22-year-old Standardbred mare, to live at their living history museum. She will meet visitors at the 17th century estate, which was once owned by William Penn. Today, Pennsbury Manor is a recreated colonial estate in Falls Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The Standardbred, as a breed, did not exist during Penn’s day but the Narragansett Pacer did. The Narragansett Pacer is now extinct but was part of the foundation of the Standardbred breed. During their heyday the Pacer was quite popular, George Washington was a fan and owner. Paul Revere may have rode one during his famous ride. William Penn commented on the Pacer in his various writings. The last known Pacer died around 1880.

The animals at Pennsbury Manor play an important role in the overall interpretation of William Penn and daily life in 17th century Pennsylvania. They provide a tangible link to our historic past, are an integral part of the Manor’s educational programming, and are enormously popular with visitors of all ages. Touch of Class was chosen in part due to her enjoyment of those visitors.

Read the original article in the September 2016 edition of The Standardbred Connection.

No Tricks Here

Young autistic rider takes Tricky for a ride.
Young autistic rider takes Tricky for a ride.
Since her birth in 1990, Tricky Deal N has traveled across the world from New Zealand to the United States. In addition to having a solid race record, Tricky produced several foals including notables Deal Em, Wastin Time and Cordealia. Her most remarkable achievement though has nothing to do with the track…she has given a child a reason to speak.

Harmony Haven Therapeutic Riding & Horse Rescue in California reports that Tricky’s young rider (name withheld for privacy) is autistic and only talks when riding Tricky. The pair have been working together for about a year. The youngster recently asked Tricky to “walk on,” small words that made everyone involved estatic as they mark significant progress in his language skills.

Tricky is an experienced equine therapy partner. She has worked with stroke victims, aided in the recovery from broken bones and other health issues. Occasionally Tricky also steps in to help do fundraising.

Harmony Haven tells the 2014 story of Skyla, a young rider at the farm who decided to do a ride-a-thon to raise funds for therapy horses. “Skyla’s goal was that everyone donate $2.02 for each horse she rode today. I don’t know how she came up with this amount but she’s 5 ….. So only she knows.”

Client trail riding Tricky as part of therapy, recovering from a broken hip.  Photos provided by Harmony Haven.
Client trail riding Tricky as part of therapy, recovering from a broken hip. Photos provided by Harmony Haven.
Skyla rode ten horses that day, including Tricky.

At 26, Tricky is still going strong, continuing to change lives, one ride at a time.

Update- Tricky passed away in her pasture on Nov. 10, 2016.

4-H Standardbred Stars

Sophia Agee riding C Me Shine Sophia and C Me have been together for two years now. Last year they won Reserve Champion titles in Gaited English Equitation and Gaited Western Horsemanship at the Warren County Fair (Ohio). The pair also showed together at the county fair this year, and made their first trip to the Junior Horse Show of the Ohio State Fair, where they placed two top tens in large classes of Gaited English Equitation and Gaited English Pleasure.
Sophia Agee riding C Me Shine
Sophia and C Me have been together for two years now. Last year they won Reserve Champion titles in Gaited English Equitation and Gaited Western Horsemanship at the Warren County Fair (Ohio). The pair also showed together at the county fair this year, and made their first trip to the Junior Horse Show of the Ohio State Fair, where they placed two top tens in large classes of Gaited English Equitation and Gaited English Pleasure.

Over 115 years ago A. B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio. The first club was called “The Tomato Club” or the “Corn Growing Club.” By 1912 the clubs were known as 4-H clubs but it would be another ten years before they would be tied with state Cooperative Extension offices. Today, nearly 6 million youth participate in 4-H activities worldwide.

It is difficult to determine exactly what impact Standardbreds have had on 4-H and vice versa but clearly there is a connection. Many youth have their first interaction with Standardbreds through a 4-H sponsored trip to a local track. Once at the track they enjoy special behind-the-scenes tours where they meet trainers, grooms, farriers, and other racetrack personnel. Some racetracks also offer the opportunity to take a jog around the track with an experienced race horse and driver. In Alberta, Canada they’re taking it one step further.

It all starts in October when the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association (ASHA) and Century Downs Racetrack & Casino hosts a 4-H Track Day where participants not only met the horsemen and their equine athletes but are also introduced to the 4-H Standardbred Yearling project. This program creates a contract between the youths and participating Standardbred breeders which allows the youths access to a Standardbred weanling for the course of a year. Over Christmas break the foals and youths are introduced, from there ASHA holds clinics to aid them with the handling, feeding, care, progress, and training of their weanling in preparation of the ASHA Yearling Sale. Regular visits to the farms by both the breeder and the program coordinators assure questions are answered and any issues resolved. The program is a win-win for all involved – the yearling

Bailee Montgomery and Gypsy Artisan aka Thor Thor is a 9 year old Stb. He was adopted on Dec. 26, 2015, from Starting Gaits. He was shown in Easy Gaited Equitation and Easy Gaited pleasure at our Co. Fair in Jackson Ohio. His first time entering a show ring and he took a 3rd in the pleasure and he was the reserve champion in Easy Gaited Equitation. He is Bailee’s pride and joy!
Bailee Montgomery and Gypsy Artisan aka Thor
Thor is a 9 year old Stb. He was adopted on Dec. 26, 2015, from Starting Gaits. He was shown in Easy Gaited Equitation and Easy Gaited pleasure at our Co. Fair in Jackson Ohio. His first time entering a show ring and he took a 3rd in the pleasure and he was the reserve champion in Easy Gaited Equitation. He is Bailee’s pride and joy!

receives extra attention, the youth has the opportunity to work with an untrained young horse and the owners have young stock that is ready to be presented at the ASHA Yearling Sale.

Across the border in New York, the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund sponsors a Standardbred Management Camp for youth at Camp Wyomoco in Varysburg, New York. The 4-H Standardbred Camp is a one-week program for teenagers interested in learning about Standardbred horses and harness racing. Nearby Franklin County 4-H also sponsors a horse camp. Campers are treated to a special tour of the race horse barns which concludes with special training races. Sponsored by the New York Agricultural and Horse Breeding Development Fund, the winners of each race were presented with a special blanket.

In New Jersey, Terry Keynton and Suzanne D’Ambrose are Standardbred enthusiasts who are “hands on” with 4-H. Terry is a leader and Suzanne is a volunteer with Knight Riders 4-H club. Among their activities is the Standardbred Showcase; Terry and Suzanne do a demo with their pleasure Standardbreds Osborne’s Shy Cam and Independent Act before answering questions.

The payoff for contributing to youth education through 4-H is often in smiles. The long term payoff to the horse industry, and to Standardbreds, can be priceless. As you read through this edition you’ll meet a variety of Standardbred Stars – youths and their horses who are gaining experience as well as adults who have transformed their experience into a lifelong love.

Read the full article in the September 2016 edition.


Joshua Gale and GW Magic Fire

Joshua Gale and GW Magic Fire as youths
Joshua Gale and GW Magic Fire as youths

Twenty-four years ago this pair started their show career. Together with Earthly Delights (dam), they were reserve champion mare and foal at the NJ State 4-H Horseshow.

GW Magic Fire went on to race as a 3 year old but then retired at 5. Joshua was asked to join the young drivers program at Gladstone. With the help of a driving mentor, Josh and his mare were able to successfully compete in a combined driving event just two months after her last race. They also competed in driving classes on the 4-H county level to qualify for the NJ State Championship. They brought home reserve champion in pleasure and champion in reinsmanship and cones. The two of them ruled cones in 4-H…never beaten and never a cone down.

The pair are still together, after twenty-four years, riding and driving together.


Payton Zelenak riding ZipSnapNDrop This gelding had 208 starts in his career. Payton showed him at fair in walk/trot classes and did some fun classes. This was Payton’s first year riding at the Franklin County Fair in Hilliard, Ohio.
Payton Zelenak riding ZipSnapNDrop
This gelding had 208 starts in his career. Payton showed him at fair in walk/trot classes and did some fun classes. This was Payton’s first year riding at the Franklin County Fair in Hilliard, Ohio.
Ella Moschinski with McDermott The pair competed in walk/trot pleasure and eq, fun classes, contesting and easy gaited. This year they won 1st place in easy gaited pleasure and english equitation at the Franklin County Fair in Hilliard, Ohio.
Ella Moschinski with McDermott
The pair competed in walk/trot pleasure and eq, fun classes, contesting and easy gaited. This year they won 1st place in easy gaited pleasure and english equitation at the Franklin County Fair in Hilliard, Ohio.
Kora McDonald riding Exemption Exeption is an experienced 4-H mount who has done well in jumping and cross country. The pair have also done well at local shows. Kora hopes to take him to Prince Edward Island this fall for a Distance Ride. Kora says, “X has help me with my confidence and I cherish him very much.”
Kora McDonald riding Exemption
Exeption is an experienced 4-H mount who has done well in jumping and cross country. The pair have also done well at local shows. Kora hopes to take him to Prince Edward Island this fall for a Distance Ride. Kora says, “X has help me with my confidence and I cherish him very much.”
Sabrina Jones and Straight Ball
Sabrina Jones and Straight Ball
Sabrina has shown her 2008 Standardbred mare Straight Ball (barn name Pretty Girl) in Indiana 4-H for the past five years. They compete in english classes and jumping. “Pretty” made it obvious from the beginning that she wanted to be a kids horse not a racehorse and we are so glad she did!
Malory Abram riding DiamondsArtForever Malory and Diamond took first in pleasure driving and driving reinsmanship and placed in the top five in all the contesting classes, at the Perry County 4-H horse show this past July. Contesting is very popular in Perry County so it was a large class in the 9 to 13 age group. They were thrilled to do so well.
Malory Abram riding DiamondsArtForever
Malory and Diamond took first in pleasure driving and driving reinsmanship and placed in the top five in all the contesting classes, at the Perry County 4-H horse show this past July. Contesting is very popular in Perry County so it was a large class in the 9 to 13 age group. They were thrilled to do so well.

Polocrosse with Lace N Ribbons By Trina Clouser

Jamie Schenk and Lace N Ribbons at the KYHP.   Photo by Kathryn Herriott Photography
Jamie Schenk and Lace N Ribbons at the KYHP.
Photo by Kathryn Herriott Photography

A fun and fast paced sport, polocrosse is truly a sport for all ages and all breeds of horses. Created in 1938, polocrosse was originally used to improve young rider’s coordination while training at Britain’s National School of Equitation. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hirst, who were visiting the school at the time, took an interest in the exercise and decided to bring it back to Australia. And thus the sport of Polocrosse was born.

An outdoor sport where both men and women play equally, the game consists of 6 players. Using a cane-like stick with a lacrosse style netting and a soft sponge rubber ball, 3 players from each team compete on the field for a chukka; a 6-8 minute game period. After the first chukka is over, the next set of 3 players rotate into play. This goes on for 4 total chukkas, at which time the match is called and a winner is announced.

Unlike Polo, Polocrosse does not require multiple horses in order to compete. This is a one rider, one horse game from which it earned the name “King of the One Horse Sports”. Entire families play together and divisions are separated by experience. Divisions are divided A-E, A being the highest level and E being young and inexperienced riders. Tournaments are held in several countries, and here in the United States all over the nation.

An interested rider can go on the American Polocrosse Association website to find a team in their area. To get started you need a helmet, a racquet, a ball, and leg protection (usually wraps) for the horse. As for the type of horse used, there are no rules. You will see many Thoroughbreds off the track, as well as Quarter Horses, Arabs, and some gaited breeds. Any horse that excels in agility, endurance, and stamina will make a great mount.

In 2007, Jamie Schenk was searching for a new sport to try with her Standardbred mare, Lace N Rbbons. Jamie and Lacy had previously showed in multiple events in Ohio, but after making a move to Huntsville, Alabama the pair needed to find a new past time. After making some new equine connections, Jamie was invited to come try polocrosse with the local Tennessee Valley Polocrosse club. Jamie, along with another new barn friend went to a practice and found that Lacy was a natural at the sport! The Standie seemed to enjoy the competition and didn’t mind the swinging racket or flying ball. It wasn’t long before the pair was ready for their first tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Jamie and Lacy played C and D level throughout their stay in Alabama and continue to play in Ohio. Many times, Jamie was asked what breed Lacy was as she was often confused for other types of horses. It seemed that the Standardbred was not often used for polocrosse and so the breed’s many attributes had never been seen. Lacy used her amazing stamina and competitive nature to excel at the sport, opening the eyes of many of the longtime riders.

Just a Number: A Look At Aged Horses by Joyce Newbury

19-year old Kristal was bred to race but never made it to the track.  Now she races the clock on long distance rides.  Together with rider Jocelyn Broadhurst, Kristal recently competed in the Man vs Horse Marathon.  Sometimes know as “the world’s largest horse race,” this annual event takes place over 21 miles in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells every June.
19-year old Kristal was bred to race but never made it to the track. Now she races the clock on long distance rides. Together with rider Jocelyn Broadhurst, Kristal recently competed in the Man vs Horse Marathon. Sometimes know as “the world’s largest horse race,” this annual event takes place over 21 miles in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells every June.

Twenty nine year old Royal Bargain flips his tail over his back and strides away.

Head up in the air, twenty-three year old Draken proudly trots across the field.

These two senior Standardbreds have quality of live and are pain free. As owners how can we achieve that in our 20+ year old horses? Nutrition, dental work, deworming, farrier and veterinarian support all come into play to develop a plan to keep our elder horses living longer.

In their younger years our senior Standardbreds would have had been seen by a equine dentist at least once a year. We need to continue that plan or as often as a equine dentist suggests. If you see hay or grain dropping from their mouth while chewing they need to be checked by a equine dentist. As horses age several things happen to their teeth. They have been consistently worn down in some spots while sharp points can develop along the edges in other areas causing ulcers and cuts inside their cheeks. Routine floating can keep the teeth in good shape.

Older horses tend to eat slower so watch for that horse bully that may eat more than their own share of feed. Aged horses may need some protection against those aggressive horses out in the field.

Consult with your vet regarding a deworming program. Routine deworming is a must to maintain your horse’s health and longevity. Parasitism is the most common equine disease. A deworming program is determined by the age of the horse, the season, pasture load, other pasture animals and the location of the horse. Vet’s like to start with a fecal exam, depending on the resulting egg count that number determines the best dewormer for the horse. A post fecal egg count tells them whether or not the horse has a resistance to that particular wormer. You have to adjust your deworming program accordingly.

Nutrition varies from summer to winter, horse to horse. Draken holds his weight evenly with only grass during the summer months, but receives grain twice a day along with 2nd cutting hay during the winter. While year round Royal Bargain is given a sweet feed and pellets three times a day along with alfalfa cubes and a good timothy hay. Some geriatric horses may need the easily chewable senior horse feed. Having a softer pellet grain and hay will help the older horse from choking on their feeds. Remember not all senior horse feeds are a complete feed; some only met the horses minimum nutritional needs. Check the label on the bag to make sure what you are feeding.

Draken spent his racing career at Morrisville  College teaching students how to drive.  He went on to win three National SPHO pleasure driving titles and represented the breed at the World Equestrian Games.  Today, at 23, Draken spends much of his time grazing but occasionally goes out for a drive or acts as a mounted archery mount.
Draken spent his racing career at Morrisville
College teaching students how to drive. He went on to win three National SPHO pleasure driving titles and represented the breed at the World Equestrian Games. Today, at 23, Draken spends much of his time grazing but occasionally goes out for a drive or acts as a mounted archery mount.

Keeping your senior from being overweight can be tough but being too heavy can cause difficulties in their aging joints. Laminitis, heart disease, arthritis, and navicular syndrome are just some of the problems that can occur with an overweight horse. Check on the internet under horse weight calculators, by using them you should be able to determine the best weight for your horse. When a geriatric horse starts to lose weight and a special feeding program does not help it’s time to consult your vet for additional help.

Talk to your veterinarian also about the metabolic changes that might occur as your horse ages. Hormonal unbalances like Cushing’s disease, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are common in senior horses. Cataracts show up slowly, have your vet check your horses eyes when you have that yearly Coggins test, Potomac Fever and other vaccinations done.

Many owners feel older horses need less exercise. Not so. Light riding or driving is a good way to keep those muscles toned and joints flexing. Local horse shows offering leadline, walk or walk/trot classes are a great way to give your horse a job while not overtaxing them. If your horse isn’t able to do a little riding or driving make sure he has ample exercise in a pasture. Being outside grazing 24/7, with a shelter, keeps joints from stiffening up and it’s also good for their mental well-being.

Aged horses still need to have routine farrier work performed. Proper trimming can help arthritic conditions and other joint diseases. Depending on the horses feet, ground that they are on, and their jobs; the farrier and you can determine whether they need to have shoes on or not.

Royal Bargain raced in the 90’s at Pocono Downs (pacer) and won $58,636.   He has always received quality feed, plenty of fresh water, regular vet work and foot care.  At 29, he is still a winner in the eyes of the Radiant Standardbred Stable.
Royal Bargain raced in the 90’s at Pocono Downs (pacer) and won $58,636. He has always received quality feed, plenty of fresh water, regular vet work and foot care. At 29, he is still a winner in the eyes of the Radiant Standardbred Stable.

Senior horses sometimes have that chronic limp that just doesn’t go away. After consulting with your veterinarian as to the cause perhaps they can recommend medications to improve your horse’s soundness. Pin firing is seen on many of our former racing Standardbreds legs. The scars are still very visible but the healing has been completed long ago. Bowed tendons are another injury to the tendons that are hard to look at but have healed. Each horse must be analyzed individually. As owners we need to make sure the quality of life is good and the horse can handle the lameness comfortably.

Salt blocks are a must all year long. Numerous types of salt blocks are on the market, decide which is best for your situation and continue to have them available for your horse. Water, whether it is in a stall bucket, outside water tank or from an automatic waterer should be clear and fresh. Stagnate water is an invitation for mosquitoes and other bugs to infect your horse with diseases.

In the winter a lukewarm bucket of water helps the digestive system digest feed much better, keeping the risk of colic down. Our senior horses don’t take to the cold very well so a winter blanket may be necessary. Take the blanket off at times to assess his weight. Add or subtract hay or grain from his diet according to what you see.

There are retirement farms that will take over the proper care of your horse for you should you not be able to do it yourself. They will take the time to consult with their local veterinarian, farrier and equine dentist, together they’ll make a long term plan on how to make sure your senior horse has good quality of life and is as pain free as possible.

Caring for your senior horse is challenging but very rewarding. With the proper plan we can obtain the standard of life that any 20+ horse deserves. Watching senior horses like Royal Bargain and Draken trot proudly around their fields makes us realize we can accomplished that goal.

Osborne's Shy Cam, Ozzy (d.o.b. April 29,1991). He is a very young 24! The Keyton’s adopted Ozzy through the Standardbred Retirement Foundation 10 years ago for their daughter, Amanda, who was 11 at the time. Ozy was primarily a trail horse at the time.  Amanda then trained Ozzy to canter, and yes, gallop when asked. She then went on to compete in the New Jersey Show Association and in 4-H doing Speed/Gymkhana events. The farm where Ozzy was boarded also ran Friday Night Team Penning. This horse LOVES to Team Pen!! He then went on to become the 1st Place Barrel Racer at the National Standardbred Show in 2010. He competes at the National Show every year, and is always in the ribbons.  Amanda left for college in September of 2014 and her mother, Terry, now rides Ozzy. Terry loves to trail ride and could not ask for a better mount. The pair have started doing parades, appearing in the Memorial Day Parade in Freehold, NJ and the annual Open Space Pace Parade.  Terry and Ozzy  have also completed their first hunter pace!
Osborne’s Shy Cam, Ozzy (d.o.b. April 29,1991). He is a very young 24! The Keyton’s adopted Ozzy through the Standardbred Retirement Foundation 10 years ago for their daughter, Amanda, who was 11 at the time. Ozy was primarily a trail horse at the time.
Amanda then trained Ozzy to canter, and yes, gallop when asked. She then went on to compete in the New Jersey Show Association and in 4-H doing Speed/Gymkhana events. The farm where Ozzy was boarded also ran Friday Night Team Penning. This horse LOVES to Team Pen!! He then went on to become the 1st Place Barrel Racer at the National Standardbred Show in 2010. He competes at the National Show every year, and is always in the ribbons.
Amanda left for college in September of 2014 and her mother, Terry, now rides Ozzy. Terry loves to trail ride and could not ask for a better mount. The pair have started doing parades, appearing in the Memorial Day Parade in Freehold, NJ and the annual Open Space Pace Parade. Terry and Ozzy have also completed their first hunter pace!

Meet Awaiten Maten, a 1993 gelding and life changer for Ronda Markle and her family.   “I owned his mother and bred her to Brisco Hanover. My plan was to sell Mate in a yearling sale but I fell in love with his gigantic personality so he could never leave. “ says Markle.   Mate did eventually leave to have a successful racing career but returned to Markle upon retirement. Mate is about 17 hands, dark bay with darker dapples, and dotted (pin fired) legs that look as though he has been thru a war.  Markle says “He has one of the most important jobs on my farm. He is a babysitter and teacher. When the foals get weaned Mate becomes their surrogate. He teaches the weanlings how to behave, where to go in storms, where the water is. He teaches them manners.” Mate is also the babysitter for Markle’s one  and only granddaughter, Lilly.    When Lilly was about two she began sitting on him in the crossties. When she was about five, Mate and Lilly began their riding partnership.  In addition to winning ribbons at a variety of shows, Mate “taught my granddaughter patience, given her cofidence. He has gone above and beyond what a person expects from their four-legged buddy,” according to Markle.
Meet Awaiten Maten, a 1993 gelding and life changer for Ronda Markle and her family.
“I owned his mother and bred her to Brisco Hanover. My plan was to sell Mate in a yearling sale but I fell in love with his gigantic personality so he could never leave. “ says Markle. Mate did eventually leave to have a successful racing career but returned to Markle upon retirement.
Mate is about 17 hands, dark bay with darker dapples, and dotted (pin fired) legs that look as though he has been thru a war.
Markle says “He has one of the most important jobs on my farm. He is a babysitter and teacher. When the foals get weaned Mate becomes their surrogate. He teaches the weanlings how to behave, where to go in storms, where the water is. He teaches them manners.”
Mate is also the babysitter for Markle’s one and only granddaughter, Lilly.
When Lilly was about two she began sitting on him in the crossties. When she was about five, Mate and Lilly began their riding partnership. In addition to winning ribbons at a variety of shows, Mate “taught my granddaughter patience, given her cofidence. He has gone above and beyond what a person expects from their four-legged buddy,” according to Markle.

General Articles

Wendy Flowers and 'Pan'
Wendy Flowers and ‘Pan’

November 2015 Edition

Setting the Standards Aside by Stacey Russic

Honoring A Hero by Jennifer Singleton

September 2015 Edition

Just A Number: A Look at Aged Horses by Joyce Newbury

Polocrosse with Lace N Ribbons by Trina Clouser

A Squire’s Horse by BJ Hobbsen

Tattler’s Jet by Susan Schroeder

The Cold Blooded Trotter by Marie Pettersson

May 2015 Edition
Ride Smart, Leave No Trace by Pennsylvania Horse Council

UMares by Cassie Astle

Rattles Ride for Cancer Update

VIP: Behind the Scenes Pass by Kathleen Haak

March 2015 Edition

Taking A Bite Out of Crime by Suzanne D’Ambrose

Parade Marshal by Elizabeth Merrill

January 2015 Edition

What Does the Judge Say? by Jane Lutz

Mounted Caroling by Katie Flaherly

Making the Grade: Judging a horse’s condition in person and in photos by Trina Clouser

Standing Guard by Kathleen Haak

November 2014 Edition

Caparisoned Horse by Kathleen Haak

Promoting the Standardbred by Heather Vitale

Taking the Mystery Out of Tattoos and Freeze Brands by Laura Burnside
September 2014 Edition

A Visit with Old Friends by Elizabeth Tewksbury

Mounted Archery by Kathleen Haak

Rattles Ride for Cancer by Kathleen Haak

Equine Comeback Challenge by Kathleen Haak

Dress Up and Ride On! by Kathleen Haak

A Look at the Past: Artesian Stock Farm by Kathleen Haak

Fresh Off The Track: Dental Care by Kathleen Haak

July 2014 Edition

Winning Ways by Rob Pennington

From the Bookshelf: Braiding Manes and Tails by Joyce Newbury

Raising the Standard: 20 Years of the National Standardbred Show by Christie DeBernardis

An Interview with Lisa Molloy by Jane Lutz

Coming Full Circle by Laura Burnside

Fresh Off The Track: Sheath Cleaning by Kathleen Haak