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Smashing Stereotypes

A reluctant racing Standardbred finds a home and two new careers.

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By: Nicole Kitchener |

Standardbreds have “great minds and an incredible work ethic,” says Charlene. When the five-year-old Standardbred gelding Leo came into Charlene Barry’s life as a sweet-16 birthday present, she knew she loved him right away. But she had no idea that over the next decade their partnership would evolve quite like it has. Charlene, now 26, and her handsome 16-hand dark bay can be found not only competing in horse trials in her home province of Alberta, but also at various venues spreading the word about the merits of retraining off-track Standardbreds as riding horses. Often disparaged, most former racing Standardbreds have a lot going for them. They’ve been well-handled, met farriers and veterinarians, and have had to deal with stressful situations and environments. Accustomed to racing gear, they generally make the transition to riding tack easily. Perhaps Leo in his early years was appealing for a career change to riding…

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