In which we feature a Sensible Horse of a Different Color: Ink!

This is Part 3 of a series of posts about Standardbreds in endurance. 
Part 2 :  Eli  
Part 1:   Shag

Today's Standie is Ink, who lives with Kirrily Niswander in Kentucky. 


Here's what Kirrily has to say about her horse:
Ink is an 8 year old (2008) 14.3 hand brown roan mare who came from a less-than-ideal situation in eastern Kentucky with no history. I got her from a gaited horse trader who had only had her for a very short time (I think he had hoped she would gait, which she does not)....I don't know anything about before he got her.

Having owned (and loved!) a Standardbred before, I strongly suspected that Ink was one based on her looks, movement, and temperment. STBs are common in eastern KY; in addition to harness racing, they are often used for speed racking or breeding with gaited horses. 

Ink's DNA test:  Standardbred, Criollo, and British Warmblood

I sent hair samples to Texas A&M for breed analysis testing, and sure enough, her primary breed is Standardbred. 

Ink has normal walk-trot-canter gaits, though it took a lot of training and fitness to develop a balanced canter. She prefers a big long trot down the trail and gets frustrated being behind slower trotting horses. 

I've taught her to condense that big long trot into a more balanced and collected trot with dressage work, hoping to decrease wear and tear on her legs, at least for the first year or two. 

Ink and Kirrily
photo by Unbridled Imagery

Last year was our first season together.  We started with 4 LD's and moved up to 2 50's in the fall.  They all went really well with the exception of one LD.  She had a hindquarter muscle cramp at the hold which resolved quickly, but I RO'd [rider-option pull from the event] not wanting to risk worse.  I've changed our electrolyte protocol a bit and she's done wonderfully since.

Ink seems to really enjoy endurance.  She does tend to get "race brain" in the first loop, but goes quietly in a hackamore after that.  She eats really well, but is still working on drinking on the trail, as she is often too tense to drink on the first loop.  She always gets good hydration scores and seems to make up for it later in the ride, so I don't worry too much.

Our goals this year are to do more 50's, and hopefully work up to a 75 in the fall if all goes well.  

She is an absolute joy to ride: sensible yet very forward, great work ethic and wonderful personality. 

Standardbreds are my favorite breed, and can really be wonderful endurance prospects that not many people know about.  Where else can you find a sporty, athletic horse who is forward and energetic, but also sensible, honest, forgiving, and always willing to try anything?  What more could you ask for?!

I am 100% sold on the breed.

You can read a brief intro/bio about Ink on Kirrily's blog:  

Do you know another endurance Standardbred?  Get in touch!


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