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Karen Hocking

I joined SPPHA a bit over 6 years ago now when I adopted my first Standardbred, Haydon Holmes NZ in October 2012. I had not been around horses for more than 23 years and had heard great things about them (after having a bad experience with purchasing my first horse - not a Standardbred - long story).

I was on a camping trip with family over Maitland way on that October long weekend so got to meet Haydon before confirming I would take him - it was love at first sight and I organised transport as soon as I got home :) He is a huge horse with a gentle soul and I started him under saddle myself (with some assistance from my son and a local trainer) - not something I ever thought I would do - I've been pretty nervous around horses my whole life due to some bad accidents as a teen.

Haydon has competed in some led classes in local shows in the first couple of years that I had him but showing is not something that we enjoy (too stressful lol) - I take my hat off to those that do it, it is so much work to have a beautifully turned out horse - Haydon is not a fan of fussing and grooming and would much rather go through the bush and play in the mud :) He did win his led classes and a few champions - something I never thought I would do. Our love is Endurance Riding - we have completed a few 20km rides over the last few years but not much in the last 2 years due to my health issues and a few 'life gets in the way' things - I have one more surgery to go soon and once that is done, hope to get back into training and complete our first 40km ride by the end of this year. A girlfriend and I have made a pact that in 2021 (the year I turn 50) we will do the Mini-Marathon at Shahzada (120km over three days - 40km ride each day). I honestly never thought I would even consider that but Haydon has given me the confidence that we can do that together. Haydon is my 'soul horse'.

I adopted another two Standardbreds in September 2014 when my son's paint horse passed away - I wanted a companion for Haydon (he was missing his mate terribly) and there were two on the books - we couldn't make up our mind so my awesome hubby suggested we take both - that way if I had one away doing something there were two at home together so they wouldn't fret.

Herbert is 'just a companion' at the moment - full of character and a little cutie. My son is talking about maybe riding again so we hope to start Herbert under saddle through winter for him.

I started Star under saddle in 2017 and she tries so hard to please - she is so easy to teach anything which means being careful about what you want to teach her - she picks it up so quickly! She hasn't had a lot of time under saddle and I hope to change that this year - maybe getting her to a 10km or 20km ride by the end of the year.

I have become a 'Standy Snob' and wouldn't have any other breed now - I think they are so amazing and have the best personalities. Ask anyone that knows me - I'll talk their ear off about them all day long! I try and promote the breed at every opportunity - I have started up a Facebook Group called 'Standardbred Endurance' - originally it was so those of us that knew each other could organise to meet up at rides but I am happy to say it has developed into more than that. It now has over 300 members from all over the world - it is a group to share event information, training information and support each other with getting Standardbreds out and about in Endurance. 

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