Columbus, OH – Western Wayne was not only a nice racehorse, he is making an excellent endurance partner for adopter Mindy Taylor of Kentucky. The 7-year-old gelding by Western Spirit out of the Pershing Square mare Bayou Baroness earned $100,387 on the track over three racing seasons. His lifetime mark of 1:54.1 was taken as a 4-year-old at The Meadows in 2016. He was then sent to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program by his owner Dan Kennedy.
Taylor, an equine vet, made an appointment to see Western Wayne in February of 2017 at New Vocations’ Laurelville (Ohio) facility. She did a basic pre-purchase exam in the stall and asked Sierra, one of the riders, to take him out.
“He couldn’t have had very many rides since retiring from racing,” said Taylor. “I’d assume maybe a dozen at most, but he was calm and willing and steady in the indoor, so I brought him home.
“I turned him out in a separate paddock for several weeks and just let him be a horse and get used to me and my mule and two Tennessee Walking Horses. Eventually he got turnout in my main horse pasture, which is fairly hilly and has two creek crossings. I rode him first in my barn lot about two weeks after I brought him home. No drama. So the next day I met three friends for a trail ride on some single track and gravel roads in the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF). Again, no drama. He did seem to notice sights and sounds behind or beside him but having primarily worked in blinkers that was not unexpected. He mostly acted like he had done trail riding forever. Of course he had learned a lot just turned out on some fairly technical pasture. And I had piled cut limbs and branches in my barn aisle so he could learn to walk through those while going to his stall.”
After about a year of walking the trails of the DBNF, about 9-12 miles two days a week, and leapfrogging with trail buddies, Taylor took him out in the spring of 2018 for trotting trail work.
“I had to work some on getting in sync with his huge trot,” explained Taylor. “I had ridden warmbloods with big trots but this trot was huge even at slow speeds. He was always totally ratable and would stay at a steady trot at whatever speed I asked for.” The pair attended their first limited distance American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) ride in Ivanhoe, VA in August of 2018. A limited distance ride is between 24 and 35 miles per ride, while standard endurance rides are 50+ miles. In October of 2018 they did back-to-back 25 mile rides in the Cherokee National Forest in Parrottsville, Tenn. So far in 2019, the pair have competed in four limited distance rides, the last being the Meadow Creek Mingle in September which was a three-day event covering 80 miles.
“At every ride he pulsed down immediately, his Cardiac Recovery Indices were excellent and he ate and drank like a champ,” said Taylor. “He finished top ten all three days (they were the only team to do all three days). He has proven to be a mountain climbing machine, but of course we condition on mountains at home. Plus he doesn’t waste energy being silly or stupid. He’s all business. A real blue collar boy.”
Taylor said Booney, as he is affectionately called, is more than ready for the 50-mile endurance rides, but some neuroma issues on one foot have prevented her from attempting one yet. The duo enjoy doing the multi-day riding at the 25-30 mile distances and are content where they are at. After attending a ride, Taylor will recount their experiences in the ‘Team Standardbred Distance Riders’ Facebook group. Writing in first-horse, Booney tells the tales of the trail and the adventures Taylor and he have while riding.
The USTA recognizes the innate ability for Standardbreds to transition from race horse to endurance horse and has presented the High Mileage Standardbred Award since 2011 through the American Endurance Ride Conference. The award is given to the Standardbred that has the most miles ridden during the current ride season (December 1 through November 30). Horse must be registered with the USTA or Standardbred Canada and the AERC. All completed rides are considered, including the limited distance 24-35 mile rides, and standard endurance rides (50+ miles).