Thursday, September 1, 2011

Misconceptions of Standardbreds - 8 Month Check In

I've been meaning to do this for quite some time. Part of my goal with adopting Ben was to disprove the common misconceptions regarding standardbreds as a companion/riding horse. I had forgotten about it, but last night I had the pleasure of talking to a very nice gal who asked me what kind of horses I owned. When I said I had a Standardbred...she said "Oh, are they even rideable? What is THAT like? They can't canter, right?"

So...I thought I'd go back to my original post and the original misconceptions and go through them, now 8 months into my relationship with my very special guy.

  • Standardbreds are only pacers - Ben is naturally gaited, but he can walk, trot, and canter. In fact, his trot is HUGE.
  • Standardbred pacers never trot - see above.
  • Standardbreds can not canter or lope. - See above (and blog profile photo)...doesn't canter, eh?
  • You can't ride a Standardbred - I've ridden Ben about 15 times in the past 8 months. He wears the same saddle as my mare, and just got his own bridle because he's a touch bigger than my other horses.
  • If you ride a Standardbred, all it will do is pace at 40 mph. - Ben only paces when he's presented with something new, or if his tack doesn't fit him properly.
  • Standardbreds are ugly- To each his own...but really?
  • Standardbreds are "cheap" horses - Ben cost me $500 to adopt...but his original yearling sale fees were well into the 5 digit sum, rivaling that of your average warmblood that has some training.
  • All Standardbreds coming off the track will have bad legs. - Ben does have old splints on his front legs, but they are cosmetic only. He is as sound as a whistle.
  • Standardbreds are "hot" - Ben is the quietest horse in the barn. He eats 6 lbs of grain a day, plus beet pulp, hay pellets and his normal hay ration. Does this look like a hot horse to you?
  •  Standardbreds are crazy - Crazy attention hogs! Ben loves when you give him attention, he hates to be ignored.
  • Standardbreds cannot bend - When Ben first started his training, he was very tough to bend to the right. Some suggested he was trained with a head pole, but supple correct training has eliminated that, and now he bends just fine both left to right. He is as normal as any green developing horse.
  • Standardbreds won't give to the bit - Ben loves his bit. He gets foamy and soft and relaxes his jaw. He is still building strength over his hind and back to support this, but he's no different than any other breed of horse learning to do this too.
  • Standardbreds make bad dressage horses - Ben is too young to compete, but next year, I will prove it to ya!

So I guess you can make the call...does this look like an ugly, hot, pacing,non-cantering, cheap horse?


  1. Ben is stunning! What a beautiful horse! My mother adopted a Standardbred from New Vocations last year. She doesn't pace, has a gorgeous canter, is a fun ride at the walk, trot, and soon, canter, is so pretty, clean legs, sensible, and the most flexible horse I know.....silly misconceptions. :) Looking forward to hearing more about Ben!

  2. Totally. He's completely useless, you should hide him in my trailer so no one catches you with him! ;)

  3. Doncha love bein' RIGHT?!!

    I've got another of those supposedly cheap-unbending-noncantering-ugly horses...and if I look away too long, my dressage trainer will STEAL her!

    Oh, and "unrideable"? I've got 200 competition miles on this mare since a bunch more miles in training. Yah, right.

  4. I just saw this post and had to smile. I rode a Standardbred who was a lesson horse for a few months a number of years ago. He was a wonderful gelding with an awesome temperament and I even briefly contemplated adopting one at the time. I don't think cantering was his favorite gait. However, you can say that of many horses in any breed. I don't think this particular horse had enough "good" practice to be fairly judged at any rate.