This is a 4yo-coming-5yo little Standie filly off the track. She's quite the looker, actually - when I first saw her I couldn't take my eyes off her! She's been off the track for a little while but never started under-saddle - until two weeks ago (so, a week before I rode her). Her trainer handed her to me for the afternoon with a "do whatever you'd like with her." So, we did some ground work - she was a little nervous when I asked her to trot but had a very short flight pattern (no taking off on me, she'd just get nervous and turn and face me, trying to figure out what I exactly wanted) and just wanted so badly to please. Under-saddle, she was a dream! She'd only been with this trainer for a week and so knew all the usual basics. Not only had she been fabulous and comfortable enough for him to start under-saddle right away, but she was great - and smart - when I went to ride her, with only a week under-saddle! I have to admit, it wasn't long before I was perched in the saddle (at a halt), leg over the horn and relaxedly chilling as I watched the goings on in the arena - she felt that safe. Everything I asked, she threw herself into it 100 percent with willingness. She was such a sweet little girl! No spook, either - very brave and smart; if something looks leery to her, she walks right up to it and checks it out. As for the Standardbred gait, she wasn't rough to ride at the trot at all. She wasn't up to learning the canter yet, but her jog was stupendously beautiful. Almost a gaited horse's running walk - that smooth! Her faster-paced trot felt so different from your average horse but it was still pretty good as well. The trainer commented to me that he'd found her to be extremely level-headed, and I couldn't have agreed more! She was the most level-headed 4yo I had ever worked with (that's including QH's!!).
This particular trainer has worked with other off-track Standardbreds as well and told me he'd found the others to be the same - that Standardbreds as a whole were typically more level-headed than the Thoroughbreds we get off the track. I've heard the same from other individuals who work on both Standie and TB tracks, that Standardbreds are so level-headed and calm - moreso even than Thoroughbreds...so I am beginning to suspect there being some fact to the rumour.
I wanted to point out too that Standardbreds can excel at a variety of disciplines, from working cattle to jumping (famous STB jumpers) or dressage (Grand Prix dressage STB)! Check out this forum for some excellent myth-dispelling!
So now I have even more reason to buy a Standardbred, or at least to pull a few off the track and re-train for re-homing! Haha the man is going to be so sorry we ever get a horse property...lol. Interesting too, were the tales I stumbled on about about STB's being crossed successfully (perhaps more successfully than TB's) with Warmblood stallions for Grand Prix jumpers...so that's another cross I am going to have to add to my list to consider.
If there are any additional individuals out there with experience with purebred Standardbreds, particularly off-track Standie's, I'd love to hear from you, particularly if you've worked with both OTSTB's and OTTB's!
Here's a couple of rescues I dug up in the Western Canada area:
Greener Pastures located in BC with some absolutely stunning horses!
Performance Standardbreds in Alberta