In which we visit our neighbors to the north and see pretty standies

Ryan rode Fiddle around a bit in camp last summer, and had so much fun that he wanted to shop for a standardbred of his own. So up we went, across the Can-Am border to go see some standies. Some were tall, some short. Some had classic profiles, some had banana noses, and some had beautiful eyes.

This little fella wanted something in his mouth. Food would be good, but the hood of my jacket seemed quite interesting, and the wheelbarrow was fun too. Apparently, he uses the wheelbarrow as a chew toy pretty often, which is pretty hilarious.

Diane and Dave gave us a tour of the stables. I've never been to a racetrack, and the backstretch was especially cool. I took tons of photos.

They hang the harnesses from the rafters to make tacking up easier (and also to keep the horses from chewing on it).

The headstall includes earplugs (the little brown sponges) that are attached to a long string that runs back to the cart. The driver can yank the earplugs out by pulling the string with his leg. Apparently, it's a strategic thing: the nervous horses have earplugs inserted before the start, and then the driver will yank out the plugs when they are moving out so they will go faster.

I had never seen anything like this before:

Wanna guess? Go ahead. It's part of the harness. Ideas, anyone?
This little fellow is in charge of barn safety and security.
I feel better, knowing he's on duty.

Over at the Track Tack Shop, check out the pretty colors!

This is a shadow roll--it goes on the noseband, to block the horse's view of the ground so they don't (literally) spook at their own shadows and blow the race. One of the shadow rolls we saw looks like a whisk broom, but I think this one looks like Mickey Mouse ears.

Here's a view of the track from the backstretch. The track is paved with limestone--freakin' hard surface! These horses are bred with amazingly sturdy feet and legs. The center of the oval is nesting grounds for Canada Geese. Diane told us that when the horses are jogged out in the morning near the oval center, the geese will sometimes attack them. I wonder if the geese are a training strategy, like the ear plugs?
The jog cart is coated with limestone mud from the track. Eeew.The weather was dreadful, so we decided not to stay for the actual races. That will be fun another time when it's not quite so cold and rainy.
Before heading back to 'Murka, we stopped to buy a few souveniers.

When we got home, Jim was making his homemade meatballs for dinner!

Life is good!


  1. Oh-oh, I'll guess! Isn't it part of the pacing hobbles? To help keep their legs moving in the proper synchronization?
    And the bit above it is a "Chifney." It clips on to the three noseband rings of a halter (ratehr than on to a headstall). We used them for presenting young stud colts at the Keeneland sale the one year I went with my breeding farm bosses (that's another lifetime). Not sure why--just tradition? Or instead of stud chains.
    So did Ryan find a stanie to take home?

  2. EVENSONG: you're sort of close. The hopples have two loops, though.

    Any other guesses?

  3. I have no idea what the mystery tubing is for. The visit was very cool! Are ex-racers for sale up there? Did Ryan find anything?

  4. The mystery tubing is called a "leg separator", and it runs between the front legs (down the belly centerline) to keep horses from interfering and clocking the insides of their legs together. Wild, huh?

    And yes: a "Chifney" bit. They use that for horses being walked or trotted in exercise, not for racing.

    There are horses for sale/adoption at the track, especially at the end of the meet season (June) when owners are trying to unload horses they don't think will win for them next season.

    Off-track standies are now competing in dressage, eventing, western pleasure, and of course endurance , so if you know anyone looking for a sound, safe, sensible mount, do point them in the direction of standardbreds!

    There is also an adoption/rehoming agency in British Columbia called Greener Pastures, which is where I got Fiddle. I should probably do a blog post about GP, huh? (filing away that thought)

  5. Does the leg separator really work? That's wild.

    I keep thinking about going STB for my next horse. Pacer, of course! I don't really want to adopt - I want to be the legal owner of my horse. That's why I asked about buying one at the track. Sensible would be so nice!

  6. I think that leg separator thingy is another testiment to the sensible nature of Standies. How many other breeds would Absolutely. Not. Tolerate. That. Cr@p. ??? >g<

    Most "adopted" horses are legally owned by the adoptive owner. Some "sellers" retain the registration papers so that the horse cannot be raced again it if it's given away or sold cheaply, but they will issue a bill of sale that is completely valid. I also register my animals with the state by getting a lifetime brand registration with my name on it--cost is about $30 in Washington State.

    In the cases of breeding an adopted horse, it's easy to positively identify your horse in order to register a foal, because the registration numbers of racing STBs are freezemarked prominently on the neck!

    Oooooh, Funder, I hope you get a standie!!! Let me know when you're ready to start shopping, and I'll ask around with my friends at the track.

  7. As long as it's just new-home-placement adoption, I'm ok with it. I'm not interested in the kind of adoption where the adopter never gets a bill of sale and is just a caretaker for the horse for its entire life.

    I won't be looking til we buy a house. A couple years from now. I want a companion for Dixie / other endurance horse, but I don't want to board two horses!

    Bay, 15ish hands, pace and/or rack? Sold!

  8. I love your photos. Very neat!


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