When was the last time your local racetrack or horsemen group sponsored a horse show open to standardbreds? The USTA has in the past helped sponsor the National Standardbred Horse Show which is held at The New Jersey Horse Park (this year, being held on August 21) in Allentown, NJ. This is great as it gives the opportunity for the industry to show off the versatility of the standardbred breed to the public, which hopefully promotes the standardbred and increases interest in adopting retired standardbred horses as their versatility is put on display.
Unfortunately, the one problem with the National Standardbred Horse Show is people must come specifically to the horse show to see it. What we need is to bring the horse show to the people instead. In New Jersey, there is the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse show where there are various horse demonstrations and classes where horses are put on display. Yet, there is no standardbred class at this particular fair so standardbreds which have been retired or never made it to the track can't be properly exhibited to the public. What makes it particularly sad is those in attendance are very interested in horses, so an opportunity to show these people how versatile the standardbred is is lost. It would also be a good time for standardbred retirement organizations to have booths at these fairs to let people know these talented animals are available for adoption to help reduce the number of rescued horses under each groups' care.
However, it shouldn't be up to each retirement group to sponsor the standardbred classes at these fair shows. Since racing helps produce these horses, local horsemen groups should sponsor standardbred classes at these horse shows to help promote retired racehorses. The amount of money involved is minimal and may help address the problem of too many standardbreds waiting for good homes.
I must confess, I missed a two part series of articles featuring trainer Lou Pena on HarnessLink when it first came out . In this series, Pena tells the editor how he feels he is being persecuted by the standardbred industry. I have my opinion on the situation, but I will let you make your own mind up. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series and draw your own conclusions.
Speaking of helping the industry, do you make your living racing horses? Do you know a lot about harness racing and want to show your knowledge off? Here's your chance to give back to the industry by becoming a "Back to the Track Volunteer" to help those less knowledgeble about harness racing and help them navigate the evening's festivities. Go to the Back to the Track website and volunteer by signing up.