Most Standardbred horses, as with Thoroughbreds, are bred for one purpose – racing. Their specific conformation and characteristics are suited to their sporting requirements, thus Standardbreds are perfect for harness racing. Even though these two breeds look similar, there are a few physical aspects that set them apart. And whereas the public seems eager to ride Thoroughbreds for pleasure after their racing careers are over, it seems that Standardbreds are sadly misunderstood.
When looking at buying a Standardbred horse for racing purposes, first time buyers must remember that, as the horse is expected to do well in harness racing, it is very important that they are able to perform their specific gaits. Some are trotters and others are pacers. So, when entering the world of harness racing, it is advisable to begin by learning about the industry, the breed, the training requirements, the care that each horse will require and the costs.
What sets a Standardbred apart from Thoroughbreds? Standardbreds have longer bodies and shorter legs than a Thoroughbred. They have broad chests and have extremely powerful shoulders and legs. Strong tendons and hard feet make them a tough breed. When their racing careers are over, many horses face an uncertain future. If the general public were more educated on this breed, they would realize that they are not only good for trotting and racing, but are naturally courageous, are steady on their feet, have great endurance stamina and are very loyal horses.
Over the years, facilities and rescue centers have opened their doors to rehabilitate Standardbred horses, and find them loving homes. One myth, in regard to Standardbreds, is that many believe that they are not capable of a natural gait. This of course stems from lack of education about the breed. Through the dedication and patience of rehabilitation centers, Standardbreds are just as capable as any other breed. Buying and owning a Standardbred is a very rewarding experience as they are quiet natured horses, very willing to learn and are suited to riders of all levels. They are good mannered horses that rarely get agitated or irritable during grooming and are especially affectionate horses.
Owners will find them to be good all round horses, with many Standardbreds being used in show jumping and other related sporting events. Their versatility is staggering and anyone who is considering owning a Standardbred will not regret it. With the correct training and attention, Standardbreds will match and even exceed all expectations.