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Charlie’s Next Chapter Beyond The Track


Testament to his ‘cuddly, goofy, honest and kind’ nature, Captain McCraw (affectionately known as Charlie) has spent many years being adored by his human friends, across racing, retraining and riding horse life.

“I got Charlie from the yearling sales, as nobody wanted him because he was so small”, reflects harness owner/trainer Terry Franklin.

“Charlie was pretty well bred and I’d seen videos of before he was broken in, so I thought I’d give him a go.

“Charlie was just out of the box, in terms of personality.  He became a bit of a legend around [the Cranbourne Training Centre], for his quietness.

“We had groups, including children with disabilities, come and tour the stables to see horses up close. Despite being just three years old at the time, Charlie was chosen to meet everyone and he was just terrific with the kids.

Gifting Terry with some special wins (which you can read about here:, Charlie’s career wound down in mid-2023 and it was time to consider what the next chapter of his life would look like.

“Once retired, I knew Charlie would make a nice riding horse and I really wanted a good home for him”, Terry reflects.

“I reached out to Hero Retrainer Tegan Siegfried, of Tarsia Park Equestrian,  and made a private arrangement for Charlie to go to her place, which was very convenient as she’s based just down the road from us, in Pakenham!”

Travelling out to meet and collect Charlie, it was evident to Tegan just how fond Terry was of his little harness horse and how important it was that Charlie find a loving, forever home.

Aligned with her retraining ethos, based on ‘patiently waiting until each horse finds their perfect match’, Tegan began working with Charlie to prepare him for a wonderful life after racing.

“Going through a lot of change (leaving his home of many years and Terry’s company), it took Charlie a little while to settle in and he was a bit standoffish to begin with, which is understandable”, Tegan recalls.

“I like to do a lot of groundwork with new horses, to increase suppleness, teach them to bend and also to build a relationship, which is really important.

“Charlie took to groundwork training really well and it wasn’t long before he let his walls down and grew to trust me. From that point onwards, we were best mates and I got to see just how easy-going, willing and delightful he is”.

Having liaised with many sellers and taken her daughter Molly test ride ‘quite a few’ horses, none of which turned out to be a good match for the thirteen-year-old, Jody Marotta was keeping a keen eye on horse advertisements on social media when she came across a post about Charlie on Tegan’s business page.

“We were away on holiday in Queensland when I saw a post about Charlie on Facebook”, Jody recalls.

“I saw his face and was just drawn to him. He had the kindest eye and Tegan was very honest and detailed when describing him. I just had a gut feeling that Charlie was the right horse.

“It was such a stressful drive back to Victoria, because we were worried someone else would swoop in and buy Charlie before our return. We literally got home, unpacked the car, called Tegan and went out the very next day to meet him.  As soon as we walked up to the fence to meet him, I just knew he was ‘the one’”.

Charlie has become a present and very adored member of his new family since arriving late last November, including making ‘best friends’ with the family cat and cementing his place as Molly’s ‘heart horse’.

“There’s so much to love about Charlie. He does everything with one hundred percent effort and he’s such a quicker learner and so loving”, Molly gushes.

“I’m a bit of a hoon and so working with Charlie has forced me to slow down and really focus on building our connection and training him the right way, from scratch.  We’ve been working on balance, connection, rhythm and flexion during our weekly riding lessons and he’s been responding beautifully.

“You can see Charlie’s brain ticking over when I ask new things of him and, although it might seem like little steps, Charlie’s progressed heaps and has picked things up very quickly. It only took him a few weeks of steady training before he was confidently cantering in both directions and developing a nice rhythm.

“Everything has been introduced gradually and quite casually to Charlie, to keep him relaxed and to build his confidence.  He’s been to two pony club rallies, with one being a gymkhana which was a very busy day, with lots going on. Charlie handled himself well at both rallies and finished each outing on a positive note, with his head dropped low and looking very calm.

“By nature, Charlie is so quiet and sensible well beyond his years. We’ve been faced with some really confronting situations, like the time a herd of deer came leaping from behind a shed a mere couple of metres away from us.  When worried, Charlie just stands still and keeps his cool.  I feel really safe with him and know Charlie will always look after me”.

This sense of trust is invaluable to mum Jody, who shares her daughter’s admiration for Charlie’s honest nature.

“Charlie’s a true gentleman and a mother’s dream”, says Jodie.

“Even though he was unbalanced to begin with, Charlie tries so hard and is never takes advantage of the situation. Molly feels so safe on him, which puts me completely at ease.

“Standardbreds teach you so much. Especially patience, how to develop a young horse and many essential skills as a rider.

“It might slow things down initially, and force you to go back to basics, but give it a year or two and you’ll have an amazing horse that knows exactly what you want. I think this is such a gift, especially when compared to just sitting your child on an established horse.

“All the past racing training gives standardbreds a lot of life experience and exposure. They’ve been out and about and done things that help with the transition to ridden training.

“If you put the effort into building a relationship with your standardbred and mastering the foundation skills first, you’ll progress very quickly. I think this is really important for people to understand; you get out what you put in.

“Molly’s coach gives them homework to practice between lessons. Consistent work has been the key and we see changes in Charlie’s abilities every single week, as he’s such a quick learner.

“Everyone I’ve know who owns a standardbred really seems to agree they have the nicest personalities. We feel very lucky to have Charlie and are excited to see what he and Molly get up to in the future!”