Help Him Find A Home For Christmas! | Strike Force

December 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I'm going to share a secret with you that most horse people {surprisingly enough} don't know about: Standardbreds.  Even more specifically, retired Standardbreds who have finished their racing careers and are ready to be transitioned into new disciplines.

I didn't know much about them myself until six years ago.  My husband and I had room in our barn and our hearts for another horse.  He's always wanted a horse to drive, and I've always wanted a grey.  Since he's a farrier, he sees a LOT of horses, and he had several wonderful Standies in his hoof care program.  He suggested that we check into adopting a Standardbred.  It was an option that I'd never considered (I mean, aren't they buggy horses?), but I did know that they are the foundation for another breed, the Tennessee Walking Horse, of which we have several.  So I started reading, and then looking at the Standarbreds we had access to - and gasp! - they were beautiful, they were versatile, a lot of them are gaited, they have a phenomenal talent for jumping and dressage, they've had a solid foundation of ground work invested into them, most have been around situations that a lot of horses aren't exposed to, they come in virtually every size, shape, and color, and they are EXCELLENT candidates for show and pleasure careers when their racing days are over.  BONUS: they're already trained to drive.  I was intrigued.

After checking around and seeing what was available, I stumbled across an organization called New Vocations.  I knew that they transitioned Thoroughbreds (another breed near and dear to my heart), but I didn't know that they also ran an adoption program for Standardbreds.  And they had the most beautiful grey mare available for adoption.  I couldn't fill out the adoption paperwork quickly enough.  We grabbed a friend (a fellow horse lover who wants all of them to find homes - do NOT take this person with you, her job is to make certain the horse gets on your trailer!!!  Ha ha ha!) and made a trip to see the beauty who'd caught my eye.  She was tall, 16.1-ish hands, she was young, only four, she had the most lovely eye and refined face - she was everything I thought (in my narrow preconceived notions) that Standardbreds weren't.  We adopted her, and our experience with the people at New Vocations was wonderful.  When we got our girl home, she'd not been started under saddle, but she pretty much acted like an old pro on her first time out.  She was calm, level headed, and made some of our seasoned horses look like amateurs.  She's incredibly affectionate, and is so comfortable with us that I can sit next to her when she's taking a siesta - she'll put her head right in my lap and request that I rub her ears and face (that melts my heart).  We wouldn't trade her for anything, and she has a permanent home with us for the rest of her days.  As you can see, we are very strong advocates for Standardbred adoption, and we recommend New Vocations to anyone looking for a show or pleasure prospect.  If you aren't in a hurry, you can find a horse that will match your wish list for size, color, and suited discipline, and the best part of the deal is that you've given an amazing animal a second life as a useful and willing partner.

Standardbred mare, Mountain Melodie, who was adopted by me in 2006.

As luck would have it, I connected with someone from New Vocations this year while asking about a horse (yes, another gorgeous grey mare) and have wound up helping a great organization with a shared passion, finding homes for adoptable Standardbreds.  I've been photographing the horses available at their Michigan facility, something that is immensely enjoyable to me and I feel very strongly about.  This is the latest to the line up, a gelding named Strike Force.

My partner-in-crime, R., and I met on a horribly cold, snowy day to photograph him.  Yes, we were nuts for even attempting to work in that weather.  The wind was blowing.  It was freezing.  Snow was coming down, and the roads were bad...but...there's an adoption special this month of 50% off adoption fees, and we both wanted to get pictures of this guy up so he could find a home for Christmas.  So there we were.  This handsome gelding was really quiet as we worked (away from his barn and stable mates, mind you) out in the weather.  He wore his Santa hat with pride.  He struck poses for me.  I'd actually have a lot more really good shots, but the snow was coming down so hard it was throwing the auto-focus off on my camera (and it was way too cold to even attempt to manual focus for the shoot), so I have lots of pics of snowflakes in focus and Strike Force not.  He'd not been started under saddle as of the day I photographed him, but he is very handsome, nicely balanced, has the sweetest face, and was really very quiet given the circumstances.  He's a great prospect, so if you know of someone who wants to add another horse to their barn, share this with them and help Strike Force get the gift of a new home for the holidays.    


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