It has been a very rewarding experience for Off the Track to be a part of the successful transition of some of WA’s ex Standardbred racehorses to second careers at Riding for the Disabled (RDA) centres in WA.
Since October 2014, 4 ex Standardbred racehorses have been successfully rehomed to RDA centres within WA and 2 more are currently being assessed by Off the Track for their suitability.
Watching as a teenage girl stands, balancing on the back of a big bay horse named Rambo while trotting around an arena on a lunge rope during a vaulting lesson, it is hard to believe that Rambo hasn’t been doing this for years and is not a long term resident of RDA Brigadoon. When arriving at RDA Brigadoon recently to check on Rambo I had to ask the question “Is that Rambo?” He looked so different and was operating like an old pro at this vaulting game. I was stunned to realise it was the same horse.
Rambo was once ‘Ramboesque’. Trained by Terry Ferguson for a time and with only 2 race starts, a bowed tendon put a premature end to Rambo’s racing career.
Fortunately for Rambo and RDA, an unusual string of events led Off the Track to this amazing animal. Although displaying a lovely temperament, Rambo seemed a bit grumpy at times to begin with but we soon began to realise that the more we handled him the less grumpy he became and the more he wanted to please. As fate would have it, a change in scenery and a new career has turned out to be just the ticket for Rambo.
Vaulting is best described by Equestrian Vaulting Australia as “dance on horseback”. Not something you would be likely to associate with a Standardbred horse. But as the saying goes, we are all quickly realising that Standardbreds are anything but standard!
Such a superstar is Rambo that he has been invited to appear as a special guest at the Pinjarra Pacing Cup on Monday 1st June.
The Left Arm Quick or ‘Lefty’ is another ex racehorse who is quickly adapting and excelling in his new career, also at RDA Brigadoon. Taking a chance on Lefty sight unseen and doing so only on the recommendation of trainer Brian Ferguson was a bit of a risk, but we trust the judgement of our WA trainers and have faith that they would not recommend any horse which does not display suitable characteristics.
Arriving at RDA Brigadoon shortly after Rambo, Lefty was a 50 start $28,291 stake earning racehorse. After a short spell and some fattening up, Lefty has tripled his weight and he is proving to be worth this weight in gold! He is thriving in his new career at Brigadoon and is very much loved by all the RDA clients. Special thanks must go to Brian Ferguson for recommending Lefty.
Many of you would be unaware that RDA centres across WA also participate in carriage driving. Carriage driving allows wheelchair bound RDA clients to participate in horse activities too. Finding a suitable horse for carriage driving at RDA can be a little tricky. The horses required need to be no bigger than 15 hands, 14 hands is ideal.
Aviator Dee was bred and owned by Sue & Mike Williams. Sue and Mike are long term supporters of harness racing. After giving Aviator Dee or ‘Forrest’ (his stable name) one prep, he was put in the paddock for a spell and given time to grow. Well, time passed………….. but Forrest never grew! Sue and Mike decided that Forrest was not a likely racing proposition because of his small stature. Forrest has an outstanding temperament and gentle nature and has led a life of luxury on Mike and Sue’s property his entire life.
When the call came from Off the Track that we were looking for a small Standardbred horse for carriage driving at RDA, Sue suggested Forrest and what a brilliant suggestion he has turned out to be.
Forrest cruised through the same assessment process as Rambo and Lefty and has now been gifted to RDA Baker’s Hill where he is used for carriage driving. Sue and Mike are so very proud of Forrest’s achievements since moving to RDA Baker’s Hill and make regular visits to check on his progress and offer assistance.
We currently have 2 more ex racehorses undergoing the RDA assessment process and retraining. Meet Me In Seattle from the stables of Kathy Chambers and Your Good Fortune from the Bond stables. Kathy Chambers and Skye Bond have both been very helpful with the retraining and education of both these horses and it is greatly appreciated. We look forward to being able to report more good news regarding these horse’s transition from racehorses to RDA horses and will keep you updated.
A big thank you to the entire WA harness racing community who have embraced and supported the Off the Track program since its inception in April last year. Together, we are achieving great outcomes and we look forward to your continued support.