Scroll Top

Shelley’s Unwavering Dedication to Standardbreds

BP Standy Doongala WW Show

It’s been well over twenty years since Shelley Murcutt started her standardbred journey and found her life irrevocably changed.

Described as ‘the perfect beginner’s mount’, Shelley’s first standardbred Batman, who she campaigned as Caped Crusader, helped Shelley and her sister Anna to develop their skills.

Together, they all participated in ‘so many amazing activities’, including Shelley’s first ever HRCAV dressage test and starting a seemingly never-ending collection of ribbons and accolades across several disciplines, which Shelley credits as ‘testament to the versatility of the standardbred’.

A few years later, Shelley decided to get a standardbred for her husband. Around this time Shelley fell very ill and ‘black and beautiful’ Gus (who raced as Tango Man and was shown as Licorice Twist), became one of the ‘heart horses’ in Shelley’s life and helped her to heal.

Shelley found herself admiring the ‘fantastic temperament and willingness to try’ shared by both of her boys, Batman and Gus, along with several other standardbreds she’d met since joining the Standardbred Pleasure and Performance Horse Association (SPPHAV).

C – Peninsula Pix

A bold trail horse, keen jumper and navigation ride aficionado, Gus’ multifaceted talents have seen him bring home awards to Royal level in showing and take to the Main Arena at Equitana with the showmanship and bravado of a ‘true all-rounder’.

“Most standardbreds, particularly those that have raced, have had much exposure to cars, trucks, machinery, megaphones and big groups of horses during their racing lives”, Shelley explains.

“This naturally desensitises them to so much and makes them such reliable, safe horses to take out.

“It’s reassuring to know your horse is going to handle big-atmosphere public events, or be able to safely go for a ride out in traffic. As riders, sometimes we don’t realise how important confidence is and how much it can affect us”.

With Batman passing away at the ripe age of thirty-five, having participated in shows and HRCAV events until he was thirty, Shelley’s passion for the breed continues on via her endeavours with a small herd of purebred and part-bred standardbreds.

Taking the reins as the President of SPPHAV in 2010, a role which she has held ever since, Shelley has also been involved several HRCAV clubs, including being a founding member and President of the South Eastern Standardbred Riding Group (SESRG) for many years and an active member of her current club, the Wandin Park RCA.

Taking on another ‘very flashy boy, who turns heads wherever he goes’, ex-pacer Sox (who raced as What a Drive, shown as Licorice Allsortz), Shelley has added more sashes to her collection, qualifying Sox for the Alabar Hero Series Final multiple times from VAS show successes and posting fantastic results at HRCAV dressage events, taking home Reserve Champion for their level at the recent Phoenix RC Dressage Jackpot.

“Living near several venues in the Yarra Valley, being involved in HRCAV has given me the opportunity to take my standardbreds out to regular rally days and many local events over the years”, Shelley reflects.

“Through my role with SPPHAV and various HRCAV clubs, I’ve organised many standy-friendly events. The Best Performed Standardbred awards actually started as my idea, as SPPHAV had previously given cash sponsorship to VAS shows.  The new awards, supported in partnership with HRV Hero, are a way of branching out to a bigger, wider audiences, to showcase the versatility of the standardbred across many disciplines.

When asked to reflect on what motivated Shelley to dive deeply into the standardbred world and dedicate so much of her time and energy into breed promotion and event planning, she credits ‘the amazing temperament of the breed, that I love so much’.

“If you’re looking for a horse to be a friend and a true partner, and a horse you can really trust to look after you, you should definitely get a standardbred”.