& program Founder, Nic Tassone
Being handed the reins of a green broken, rather hot little mare (very different to what we find the ‘typical’ standardbred to be), the girl – whose name was Nic – found herself completely out of her depths.
Back then standardbreds weren’t a particularly popular choice of riding horse and expert knowledge was hard to come by.
The internet didn’t exist then in the way we use it today. Nic couldn’t just jump on Google or Facebook and have someone feed the answers to her many questions. She had to figure it all out on her own.
This meant the pair’s retraining journey was filled with a LOT of trial and many, many errors.
Tears of frustration, at every little skill being a mountain to conquer.
And often Nic feeling pretty defeated and as though nobody really understood why she was crazy enough to keep at it and not just get a “real riding horse”.
Because of the confusion surrounding standardbreds back then, every milestone that sassy mare and her dedicated little rider reached was the result of darn hard work.
Looking back, although she credits this ‘forced education’ as teaching her some of the best horsemanship lessons she’s ever learned, Nic acknowledges it was exhaustive & certainly the hardest road to success.
These experiences inspired the Raising the Standards you see today – a program which exists so that no standardbred rider ever has to ‘go it alone’, like Nic once did.
In 2009 Nic returned to her family farm after a stint living in the suburban outskirts of Melbourne due to university commitments.
She wanted to get back into riding and felt naturally pulled towards standardbreds, having had such wonderful memories with Missy.
Nic posted an advertisement in a harness racing forum, expressing interest in taking on a retiree. Her wishes were soon granted and she brought a standardbred home.
Then 2. Then, somehow, 27 (OOPS).
Before long, Nic had fallen down the rabbit hole and Raising the Standards was established; fast growing into one of the largest and most celebrated life after racing programs in Australia.
Raising the Standards became a home between homes for standardbreds exiting harness racing and looking for the care, rehabilitation and retraining needed to help them to start a new career and find a loving home beyond the track.
Hundreds of horses passed through and left their mark on the hearts of the Raising the Standards family as part of outplacement efforts spanning across 2009-2016.
Being a bit of an all-rounder herself, Nic guided countless standardbreds through foundation training. This equipped the horses with the skills to be able to go on and be successful in a wide range of equestrian pursuits with their wonderful new owners.
Proving the versatility of the breed, Raising the Standards graduates can be found out in the equestrian world to this very day, enjoying activities such as adult riders and pony club, dressage, showing, jumping, eventing, trail and pleasure riding, endurance and even a couple of Lighthorse Cavalry troopers!
Raising the Standards is also extremely proud of its partnership with Riding for the Disabled Australia – having provided specialised training to place horses in various Victorian centres – as well as training the first standardbred to be accepted in Victoria Police’s Mounted Branch, along with a stablemate closely following in his hoofprints.
Armed with a media degree and a keen interest in online programs, Nic began exploring opportunities to share her years of experience with standardbreds to the world.
Standardbreds are very unique and sometimes a ‘one size fits all’ training approach that works for other breeds can cause confusion for retired harness racehorses (which can make some of their quirky ex-racehorse habits harder to work through!)
But Nic appreciates that not everyone is fortunate to live near a standardbred coach or standardbred club, which is why she’s made it her mission to create resources to support riders remotely and break down those geographic barriers.
The result has been some incredible online programs, which take riders through every little step in the standardbred retraining process and are a bit like having an instructor in your pocket!
Hundreds of everyday standardbred owners – including juniors who follow programs with their parents right through to ladies in their late 70s – have enrolled in standardbred retraining programs through Raising the Standards and experienced great success (and plenty of smiles!)
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve owned your standardbred for 10 years or 10 weeks.
Whether you’re into exploring the trails, strutting in the show ring, or simply hanging with your horse.
An old hand in the equestrian world, or growing in confidence and experience.
Raising the Standards helps standardbred owners of all ages, interests and experience levels to feel supported throughout the retraining journey.
You can view all of the standardbred retraining courses by Raising the Standards by clicking here