What types of horses are available?
Standardbreds available range from yearlings to horses in their 20s.  However, most horses coming off the track are between 2 and 10 years old.  Many are geldings, though mares and stallions are also available.  Most have had extensive handling and training, ie. standing for the farrier, loading into a trailer, clipping, etc.  Most will not have under-saddle training or training for pleasure or show driving.

What can you use a retired Standardbred for?
Standardbreds can adapt to many different disciplines, having been used for both Western & English riding including, dressage, jumping, barrel racing and endurance competitions.  They can also be used for different driving events such as combined driving, roadster horses and obstacle driving.  “Ride and Drive” classes are also popular for Standardbreds.

What sort of training do Standardbreds need for pleasure horse use?
Most Standardbreds come off the track familiar with many types of equipment and their feel.  Most know how to stand for bathing, clipping, getting shod, plus they usually behave well for the vet and load into a trailer easily.  Most Standardbreds have good dispositions, intelligence and a willingness to please.

However, few horses coming off the track are saddle-trained or know how to longe.  Teaching your Standardbred to be a good horse under saddle is a process, involving learning to respond to leg cues, seat and the rider’s hands (which are somewhat different than a harness driver’s hands), plus the more detailed specifics of any given discipline, such as learning to neck rein or leg yield.  Many people who have re-trained a Standardbred will tell you they take to having a person on top of them very well and it doesn’t take very long until they can be used as a trail horse or for pleasure.  If you are thinking about acquiring a Standardbred as a show horse, you should be willing to put the time and resources into transitioning the horse to saddle/driving work for pleasure or show.

What is the difference between adopting and buying?
Adoption may seem an attractive alternative to buying a horse since the adoption fee/donation is usually less expensive than the purchase price for a horse.  In addition, adoption groups usually remain the owners of the horse for the horse’s lifetime and adopters do not usually receive registration papers on horses donated to their program.  Most groups have emergency clauses where they will take a horse back if the horse turns out to be a bad match or if financial reasons prevent an adopter from affording to keep the horse.  The upkeep on a horse will be the same regardless of whether you purchase or adopt it.  Therefore, you should carefully go over your own financial situation and lifestyle to see if an adopted horse fits in your life.

Does the USTA adopt out Standardbreds?
No.  The USTA is the breed registry for Standardbreds, not an adoption agency.  In addition to promoting harness racing, for which Standardbreds are bred, the USTA supports using Standardbreds for pleasure and show horse use.

Where can I find Standardbreds for adoption?
Most Standardbred-specific adoption groups are based in or near areas where harness races are held, namely the East Coast and Midwest.  There are also several non-Standardbred specific groups in those areas and elsewhere that occasionally have a Standardbred available for adoption.


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Standardbred Adoption Frequently Asked Questions

What types of horses are available?
Standardbreds available range from yearlings to horses in their 20s.  However, most horses coming off the track are between 2 and 10 years old.  Many are geldings, though mares and stallions are also available.  Most have had extensive handling and training, ie. standing for the farrier, loading into a trailer, clipping, etc.  Most will not have under-saddle training or training for pleasure or show driving.

What can you use a retired Standardbred for?
Standardbreds can adapt to many different disciplines, having been used for both Western & English riding including, dressage, jumping, barrel racing and endurance competitions.  They can also be used for different driving events such as combined driving, roadster horses and obstacle driving.  “Ride and Drive” classes are also popular for Standardbreds.

What sort of training do Standardbreds need for pleasure horse use?
Most Standardbreds come off the track familiar with many types of equipment and their feel.  Most know how to stand for bathing, clipping, getting shod, plus they usually behave well for the vet and load into a trailer easily.  Most Standardbreds have good dispositions, intelligence and a willingness to please.

However, few horses coming off the track are saddle-trained or know how to longe.  Teaching your Standardbred to be a good horse under saddle is a process, involving learning to respond to leg cues, seat and the rider’s hands (which are somewhat different than a harness driver’s hands), plus the more detailed specifics of any given discipline, such as learning to neck rein or leg yield.  Many people who have re-trained a Standardbred will tell you they take to having a person on top of them very well and it doesn’t take very long until they can be used as a trail horse or for pleasure.  If you are thinking about acquiring a Standardbred as a show horse, you should be willing to put the time and resources into transitioning the horse to saddle/driving work for pleasure or show.

What is the difference between adopting and buying?
Adoption may seem an attractive alternative to buying a horse since the adoption fee/donation is usually less expensive than the purchase price for a horse.  In addition, adoption groups usually remain the owners of the horse for the horse’s lifetime and adopters do not usually receive registration papers on horses donated to their program.  Most groups have emergency clauses where they will take a horse back if the horse turns out to be a bad match or if financial reasons prevent an adopter from affording to keep the horse.  The upkeep on a horse will be the same regardless of whether you purchase or adopt it.  Therefore, you should carefully go over your own financial situation and lifestyle to see if an adopted horse fits in your life.

Does the USTA adopt out Standardbreds?
No.  The USTA is the breed registry for Standardbreds, not an adoption agency.  In addition to promoting harness racing, for which Standardbreds are bred, the USTA supports using Standardbreds for pleasure and show horse use.

Where can I find Standardbreds for adoption?
Most Standardbred-specific adoption groups are based in or near areas where harness races are held, namely the East Coast and Midwest.  There are also several non-Standardbred specific groups in those areas and elsewhere that occasionally have a Standardbred available for adoption.





Standardbred Horse