With some wonderful memories from her junior years, Candice Himsley developed a soft spot for standardbreds early in her riding career.
“I leased a standardbred when I was a teenager and we did some team penning together. He was just amazing and I grew very fond of him and the other standies I came across”, Candice explains.
When the time came to start looking for a new horse to help around the farm and for trekking in the nearby High Country, Candice actively started searching for a standy to join her family.
“I’d had such positive experiences with standardbreds in the past and thought their level-headedness would really suit our lifestyle”, Candice says.
“I saw a thread on Facebook where people were recommending standardbred retrainers and Monivae Park was mentioned. I went over to scroll their page and saw Rusty Mac advertised. I immediately thought ‘I have to have this dude’; he really caught my eye and seemed to be exactly what I was looking for”.
Candice reached out to Stacey and Jackie Barker, the Principals of Monivae Park Standardbreds, to discuss Rusty’s temperament and retraining to date.
“Before I arranged a viewing, I asked the girls what Rusty had been exposed to” Candice recalls.
“Our farm has a lot of noisy machinery, livestock and a flurry of activity. I felt it was important that Rusty would cope with all of this.
“Stacey and Jackie were so honest about what Rusty was yet to experience. They took on board my questions and went out and tested Rusty around some cattle and farm equipment. They came back to me with a detailed rundown of how he went with everything. I was so impressed with how much they seemed to care and the effort they put into matching us.
“The Monivae team really went above and beyond to make sure Rusty ticked all the boxes and had some extra preparatory training before I made the long trip to meet him”.
Reassured by Stacey and Jackie’s assessments, Candice drove over six hours from North East Victoria down to Monivae Park’s Hamilton base, which is at the opposite end of the state, to meet Rusty. “I stayed locally for the weekend and Stacey and Jackie were very accommodating”, Candice explains.
“I got to hang out and ride Rusty several times during my stay and try a bunch of things with him. I purposely didn’t take a float with me, so I wouldn’t rush into making a decision.
“The Barkers were so great at letting me take my time and not pressuring me whilst I made sure Rusty was a perfect fit for our family. I smiled the whole drive home and a week later he was transported up to begin his new chapter with us”.
With Moinvae Park having done a ‘tremendous job’ at starting Rusty under saddle, Candice was inspired to continue his educational journey.
“Since joining our family, Rusty has done a bit of just about everything!” Candice explains.
“We in in a beautiful valley surrounded by hills and bushland and have spent a lot of time exploring old cattle mustering tracks along the High Plains.
“Living on a farm, we also use Rusty to help shift our cattle into new paddocks and across the roads, which he is great at.
“Our local road has started to become quite busy, with lots of traffic, motorbikes and trucks with flapping tarps and what not. Rusty is just fantastic and takes everything in his stride”.
A tidy workhorse and handy man to have around the farm, Rusty is the family favourite.
“My partner and have had some tiffs and drawn a few straws over who gets to ride Rusty”, Candice says, laughing.
“Rusty is just so fuss-free and you always know what you’re going to get with him. If you’re after an easy ride, you can’t go past Rusty. He also floats like a dream, which is a gift from his racing career, and he stands like a gentleman for our farrier. Everyone loves him”.
Additional to his farm and trail adventures, Rusty has also had the opportunity to prove his versatility in social settings.
“We’ve got a riding school about half an hour down the road from us and they regularly offer poles clinics”, says Candice.
“Rusty has been to a few training days and these have really helped him to develop his topline and improve his balance. Trotting over poles engages different muscles and it’s a great workout for him.
“I’ve also taken Rusty to a few natural horsemanship clinics, had some lessons and we’ve done a touch of jumping. Everyone is surprised to hear he’s a standardbred, as he’s such a fine, compact little fella and he goes around like he’s been doing this forever.
“At training days, Rusty tends to step up as the leader. If other horses are worried or acting up, he just ignores them, cruises around and goes about his business. He’s just so even-tempered and responds to every challenge with remarkable willingness to please.
“He’s just the coolest cat to take out and so trusting, reliable and keen to try new things.
“If anyone is considering getting a standardbred I’d definitely say go for it! They’re so smart, kind and versatile and they make amazing all-rounders!”