Standardbred rider Dom is known to many readers of this blog because she writes a popular mostly-horse-and-dog-but-also-pretty-pictures blog of her own.
You can read her blog HERE...and you can read about Dom HERE.
Dom is one of many people I "know" online that I hope to meet someday IRL. I've stolen some images from her blog for this post--if you like them, you should visit the blog and enjoy more!
Here's what Dom says about her favorite three endurance Standardbreds:
Ozzy (Oz the Great) is a 2001 gelding by Lindy Lane.
|Ozzy and Dom|
|Ozzy, age 3, NOT a successful race horse|
I got him as a six year old when I left my job at the track. He was my first horse and I fell in love with riding as far as I could before I even knew endurance was a sport.
|Oz the Great. Do you love his nose? I love his nose.|
Photo by Dom.
By chance, I ended up boarding at an endurance rider's farm and she introduced me to AERC and hauled us to our first rides. We did our first 50 less than a year later.
|Ozzy and Dom|
My favorite ride story involves someone cantering up to me at Mustang Memorial and saying, "Did you know that your horse is currently trotting at 14mph?" I replied, "Yeah. This is his medium trot!" The guy laughed, then said, "Well, I can't keep this pace!" and dropped back.
|Team Sensible is also Team Trot|
|STBs can canter! photo by Dom|
Looking back, he was never as sure footed as his Arab counter parts, and I can't believe I ever trotted him down hill, but he was fearless, game, and unflappable.
Rayzer (EJ's Rayzer) is a 2004 pacer.
|Rayzer and Dom.|
photo by Wanda Clowater
Rayzer raced 30 times and made $22k before she ended up at the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.
She came through the program while I was [working] there. She was western broke and had a wicked buck, which led to her being returned. I rode her for her evaluation, expecting the worst, and found out that she was a very sweet, very willing horse. She never did buck.
|Dom, where is your helmet?!?!|
One of my co-workers adopted her, but wasn't much of a rider and enlisted my help to keep the mare exercised. Ozzy was dealing with some on-off NQR lameness at the time, so I made her my trail riding buddy. As it turns out, she had a knack for trail riding and was fearless. I did a few solo trail rides with her, added on the miles, and signed her up for the Pine Tree in 2011. We drove all the way up to Maine and she camped like a pro. I had used Glue On boots with her, and she ripped two off in her pen over night! By the end of the first loop, she'd lost them all. That didn't slow us down any though! I had the farrier put shoes on her all around and went back up for the rest of the ride.
|Girls just wanna have...shoes!|
Despite it being her first real ride and despite the pouring rain, we finished 3rd (and probably would have won if I'd just had her shod to start with!) She didn't put a foot wrong all day, even when we rode past scary logging equipment.
O yeah... and we picked up a junior to sponsor in the last several miles. It was the kid's first top ten! Three weeks (and almost no riding) later, I entered her in the Vermont Moonlight 50. It was my first moonlight ride and Rayzer certainly had no idea what she was in for. On the way up, we blew a tire on the trailer. Rayzer didn't even bat an eye. We rode slow and steady in the blistering heat all day.
At the last hold, our buddy got pulled and I went out into the dark by myself. Rayzer handled everything with grace and dignity and we completed a few hours later to the roar of the crowd at the finish. The Moonlight is a ride/run and there were runners doing 100 miles on foot. I spent several miles jogging quietly along one guy in particular, and he asked, "What is this? Are you my pacer?" I cackled like a mad woman because... well.. she WAS a PACER!!!! The guy didn't get it.
My favorite part was coming into "Margaritaville", a pit stop for the runners. The crowd there was electric and they shouted supportive things and cheered for everyone, rider and runner alike. Rayzer must have thought she was back on the track. She had been dragging a little at that point, and when the crowd started calling her name, she pricked her ears, flagged her tail, and really stepped out. I will also say that by the time we finished that 50, she cantered along like a dead broke quarter horse, not a standardbred who "can't canter". I even forgave her for trying to roll in Rojek's pond at the beginning of the ride. She was a fat thing and Art King commented, "Oh, rolley polley horse, when we started." At the end of the ride, he admitted he was impressed at how unfazed she seemed by the whole thing.
And then there's Clover, (registered as Extra Virgin.)
She was born at Hanover Shoe, flunked out of the yearling auction, and was bought by Russell Williams, who placed her in SRF as a two year old (I think). She went to an adopter who couldn't handle her and returned her skinny, and in poor shape.
I rehabbed her, restarted her, and discovered another really awesome little horse.
She's actually a half sister to Ozzy, but she's chestnut and people think she's an Arab.
|Clover and Dom|
I had met Ival at an endurance ride when she got run away with by her other STB mare, Shortie (Short's Flame). She used Ozzy as a bumper to stop (after asking permission to do so). When she called SRF looking for a horse, I remembered her and Wendy and told them I had the perfect candidate for them.
|Clover. Photo by Dom.|
Ival took Clover out for a ride and loved her immediately. She even enjoyed her first canter in several years! They took the mare and it was the start of a beautiful friendship for the two of them and me. They took me to lots of rides and Clover and Ozzy did many miles of trail together. Ival's motto is "to arrive is to win" and she'll sometimes pull if it's not fun for her any more.
Clover is an incredible and very safe little mare. She has given pony rides to kids, pleasure drives between trail riding (despite never being in harness training!) , babysits young, green horses, and even allowed an adult re-rider to complete her first CTR this past spring.
|Dom and Clover|
Kenneth Martin, Smith's Photography
I was lucky enough to catch ride her at Biltmore last year. It was a tough, blistering hot 55 miles, and it made me fall in love with the ride (and even more in love with the mare). We finished 6th, and I rode on a loose rein for the entire day. Clover is still going strong, and I'm sure I'll have more updates on her in the future.
We haven't (nearly) run out of Sensible Standardbreds to highlight. Want to suggest one? The comment box is open! Want to read the rest of the series?
Part 3: Ink
Part 4: Bunny
Part 3: Ink
Part 4: Bunny