Demonstrating their versatility beyond the track, this weekend saw dozens of talented standardbreds turn their hoof to a variety of performance pursuits.
The Team Teal Standy Extravaganza event, run in partnership with WomenCan to raiseawareness and much-needed funds for women with ovarian and other gynaecological cancers, was supported by a list of generous sponsors and a robust field of thirty-two standardbreds who participated in classes.
The Team Teal event not only raised an impressive $3688 for ovarian cancer research, but also focused on providing a welcoming environment for novice combinations.
“Raising much-needed funds and educating our competitors and the broader community has been, and will continue to be, our main priority”, explains event organiser Fee Williams.
Sara Church wrote in, on behalf of her daughter Bella Wilson, to thank Fee and the other Team Teal Standy Extravaganza organisers and judges for creating such a supportive program.
“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement yesterday. It’s not easy being twelve years old and showing with all the adults”, explains Sara.
“Two years ago Bella had a very scary and traumatic fall from her pony. Her riding confidence hasn’t been the same since.
“This year Bella has been taking [her standardbred] Corporal Bill in led classes at shows, but hadn’t been able to conquer the nerves enough to ride.
“Bella has put in a lot of hard work at home over the last few months and found the confidence to ride in two classes at the Team Teal event.
“She came out of the ring super happy and proud that she was able to do it and was met with lots of congratulations from the sidelines and encouragement from the Novice Ring Judge, Lisa Veitch, who reminded her to breathe.
“I think I’ve officially lost my horse for good now and, as a super proud mum, I’m OK with that!”
Sara’s feedback validates the importance of the inclusive approach underpinning the event.
“This is why we incorporated a novice ring into our Team Teal show from its inception last year”, Fee explains.
“It is so important that anyone of any age feels safe and supported when they are competing at Team Teal. I encourage anyone who has recently purchased a standardbred to set yourself some achievable goals and aim to enter our Novice Ring next year.
“One of the event highlights for me was the Judge’s Choice award in the Novice Ring, with fourteen novice competitors and their standardbreds contesting for this.
“As the Novice Ring Steward this year, I loved seeing each competitor gain more and more confidence as the day progressed. Hearing the squeals of delight from their support crew ringside when they received a ribbon and the huge smiles on the faces of the competitors was just wonderful!”
Sporting one of these smiles, after a very successful morning, was Judge’s Choice winner Nikki Smith, who has been an active champion of standardbreds for many years.
“Sunday was such an amazing experience for both King Jaffa and I”, says Nikki.
“Everyone was so delightful and friendly and I found the Team Teal Standy Extravaganza to be very well-run.
“This was King Jaffa’s first show and proved just how level-minded standies are.”
Novice Ring judge, Lisa Veitch, who has a long history training and campaigning standardbreds to the highest levels across multiple equestrian disciplines, said she was “so impressed with the level of riding and presentation in the Novice Ring”.
These sentiments were echoed by Open Ring Judge Casey Bruce, who was a fantastic addition to the judges panel given her breadth of experience in the racing industry and showing, adding that she liked “the fact that everyone’s horse was different and everyone’s level was different, but at the end of the day the camaraderie between standardbred owners was lovely.”
Long-time standardbred enthusiast Nicole Crossley and her gorgeous standardbred Myron Mastermind, know to his friends as Russell, enjoyed a very successful day at the Team Teal event.
The pair were sashed with a list of awards, including Champion Handler, Reserve Champion Smartest On Parade, Champion Ridden Male and Supreme Ridden Exhibit.
“It was lovely attending the Team Teal Standy Extravaganza and seeing so many standardbreds on show”, says Nicole.
“Congratulations to all the competitors on the day. Russell enjoyed his day out and was fortunate to be awarded the Supreme Ridden Exhibit, sponsored by HRV Hero.
“Congratulations to Team Teal for another successful show fundraising for WomanCan.”
The Team Teal Standardbred Show fundraising efforts will continue on across February and into March, via an online raffle.
People interested in supporting this fantastic cause should keep an eye on the Team Teal Standy Extravaganza Facebook page for raffle details, coming soon.
Further north, fellow show rider and long-time standardbred supporter Emily Barton competed at the HRCAV Top Teams Showing Event in Benalla.
Keira showed her standardbred Brentwood After Dark, aka Joey, and picked up placings amongst a strong field of horses in all of her classes, as well as winning Level 4 Pleasure Mount and Level 4 Mount Most Suitable.
Keira had to go up to Level 3 to do her rider class and Joe carried her to win her Level 3 rider class and be sashed Reserve Champion Level 3 Rider.
Joey and Keira were awarded Best Performed Standardbred, supported by the Hero program, and, as part of her HRCAV team, won fourth place overall out of 27 teams.
At the other end of the state, several standardbreds competed in a variety of events at the Gippsland Super Horse Challenge.
“We had a fabulous event and the Hero program’s Best Performed Standardbred award is something we really enjoy being able to offer”, said event organiser Lisa Strong.
“Standardbreds are a wonderful animal and it’s great to be able to help them get the recognition they deserve.”
First-time Challenge participant Brigitte Mitterer was quick to praise the “very well put together event”.
“The Gippsland Super Horse Challenge was amazing”, Brigitte explains.
“It was my standardbred Koko’s first competition and a lot for her to take in, with whips cracking, horses cantering up closely from behind and generally a lot of noise and commotion around her.
“I could see Koko’s mind was a bit blown by everything going on, so I decided to do the right thing by her so she would have a positive experience.
“I scratched her from the jumping and the whip crack classes and just focused on the obstacles.
“I was really grateful that I was able to treat the obstacle course as a bit of a training session, where we got to walk around, have a look at things and gain some exposure.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get to show off what we’re capable of as a team, but we went for a good first experience, Koko really started to relax in the end and we got to enjoy a couple of nights camping out; I’m very happy with that.”
Sharing Brigitte’s positive event feedback, was Gippsland Super Horse Challenge Best Performed Standardbred recipient, Brontie King.
“I think it was great that standardbreds had the opportunity to participate in this competition. They are so versatile and people are starting to open their eyes up to this”, Brontie explains.
“Shakira is very forward, confident and athletic and she loves jumping. She really loved the freshen up of a discipline change from showing to something very different.
“The event certainly stood up to its name, being quite a challenge, but I was very proud with how Shakira took everything in her stride and handled herself.”
Past Gippsland Super Horse Challenge competitors and Hero Ambassadors Kylee Paull and her talented standardbred Whiskey Business, affectionately known as Minty, this year headed across to the Lang Lang Sporting Horse Australia Classic, which was held across the same weekend.
“The Sporting Horse Classic at Lang Lang had some very strong heats, resulting in some close finishes”, says Kylee.
“The winner was well-deserving of the award, as the horses certainly had to work for it!”
Kylee and Minty have had a vastly successful career in sporting to date, which has not only turned a spotlight on the versatility of the modern standardbred, but also served as inspiration to fellow standardbred owners to try some fun, new activities.
Sporting Horse Association of Australia’s President, Matt Burns, encourages standardbred owners interested in trying sporting to follow the Association’s Facebook page. Information on this page will help prospects to keep across upcoming opportunities to learn, try, or even just head across and watch some events during the peak season.
“We want to welcome standardbred owners new to Sport Horse to come down to an event and see what it’s about”, says Matt.
“Not only are there some great prizes on offer, like the Best Performed Standardbred award sponsored by Hero, but there are also classes specifically for standardbreds, as well as lots of newcomer and novice classes perfect for those just getting started.” Hero Operations Manager, Tara van der Minne, expressed her excitement at the high number of standardbreds out enjoying life beyond the track.
“Seeing so many standies at different events really demonstrates how trainable and versatile these horses are”, says Tara.
“Hero looks forward to continuing to support clubs and associations who create participation opportunities for standardbreds, through sponsorship of Best Performed Standardbred awards and prizes.”
Event organisers can visit the Hero Sponsorship website, for more information on how to apply.