The in-hand standardbred winners have been decided, and proved a hard job for the judge, Graham Dore from Coatesville, who really made the competitors work.
It was big win for Amanda Burton with her ex-pacer, Change of Pace, who took the In-Hand Standardbred Horse of the Year title, with Nigel Heron with Final Mission winning reserve.
Change of Pace was named by Amanda when she got the seven-year-old a few years ago. Nicknamed ‘Crash’ by his trainer, Gavin Smith of Canterbury, for his way of getting off the truck, the gelding was broken to harness and went into training but never made it to the track. Gavin sent the horse to Michelle Morrison who runs a standardbred rehoming operation, and it was Michelle who alerted Amanda to the horse’s potential.
Amanda had hurt herself falling off her thoroughbred and was on the verge of giving up riding, but decided to try a standardbred because of their ‘awesome temperament’. “They are kind and willing, and with time and patience they are the most amazing riding horses.”
Awareness of how the horses have been trained and utilised in the past is important as they are retrained into riding horses. “The overchecks in the harness keep their head up, and they are shod to get long and low strides. You have to re-educate them as they use different muscles entirely,” says Amanda. “Crash’s canter wasn’t flash, it was long and flat and I really had to work to teach him to elevate and have a better canter. He had to develop different muscles and it took time.”
She also explained why standardbreds got the name ‘wobblers’: when there is the occasional lapse back into pacing, it is really ‘wobbly’ to ride. “I discourage Crash from pacing or ambling, although in saying that, he is an awesome ambler and it is so comfortable!” The judge obviously approved of Amanda’s training, commenting that the horse had “beautiful soft movement, the best movement of the day”.
Zoe Cobb had a good win in the Showmanship class with her beloved O’Sheas. Zoe has been the forewoman for trainer Nicky Chilcott for seven years. O’Sheas won eight races with Nicky and raced until he was about 12 when Zoe took him over and now shows him. He is now 15 and has also recently recovered from colic surgery. “He is a very special horse; he’s the only one I have!”
Best Presented Combination: Major Ouch, Claire Madden
Junior Filly 5 years and under: Beautiful Dangerous, Nicole Givan
Intermediate Gelding, 6-11 years: Change of Pace, Amanda Burton
Senior Gelding: 12 years and over: Final Mission, Nigel Heron
Best Movement: Santo, Mandy Hamilton
Best Manners: Major Ouch, Claire Madden
Showmanship: O’Sheas, Zoe Cobb
In-Hand Standardbred of the Year: Change of Pace, Amanda Burton, 1. Final Mission, Nigel Heron, 2.