We picked up a riding horse on Saturday: Paulie, a standardbred ex-racehorse. He is 7yo, 15.3 hands tall.
Paulie is black with brown highlights, and has a blondish fringe on his face. He’s a laid-back surfer type, and our friend Jan is threatening to make him a Hawaiian saddle-cloth and put surfboard rails on top of the gypsy wagon.
On the trots track, Paulie was known as Chefino and was fairly successful. Now he’s retired from racing and was in need of a new career. In Australia, many ex-racers are turned into dog food.
There are a few dedicated individuals who take ex-racers and rehabilitate them for general riding. We got Paulie from Anything But Standard, who are based in our general neighbourhood. Karleigh gets the retired racers, rides them for a while, then finds homes for them.
Standardbreds have not been fashionable in show circles, but are now being recognised as reliable performance horses. They are stockier than thoroughbreds and have less accidents and health problems. They tend to be quiet and, because they pull little carts, are used to things hanging off them and around them.
Paulie has a lovely temperament and loves being patted and groomed. At the moment he’s getting lots of attention and really enjoying that.
It’s 30 years since I have done any real riding, so I’m a bit rusty on the finer points. Dad’s ponies used to steer mostly on the reins, whereas Paulie seems to respond best to shifts in my weight, and leg aids.
Fortunately Jan is helping me a lot in basic horsemanship and getting equipment together. We have sourced a suitable saddle, just waiting on some adjustments to that.
I haven’t ridden him at more than a walk yet — the ground at the seller’s place was uneven and rocky, and there were some saddle issues at that point. Paulie is so calm that I’m confident it will all work out. I might even try him riding in a halter rather than a bridle some time, as he seems so happy to oblige.
My expanded yards should be arriving this week, which should make many things easier. I’m seeing the concretor today about a slab for the stables, which are laying as a flat-pack in our big shed. We should soon have a respectable horse set-up.
We’re having a medieval equestrian day at the farm in May, so hopefully we’ll be able to do some showing off by then. Medieval horse games are a lot like pony club games.
I’m hoping that the gypsy wagon is repaired by then: at least the exterior, maybe not the reupholstery for the seats. Paulie should be OK to pull the wagon, as he knows about carts already.
Domino the half-draft is still the paddock boss: all resolved in a civilised way. Gawaine the giant foal is really excited to have someone to play with, and won’t leave poor Paulie alone.