The “other” racing horse: Looking at Diamond Creek standardbreds

Local

WELLSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Say “racing horse” and most people immediately think “thoroughbreds,” the horses that run with a jockey perched on their backs. For Caroline Vazquez, Director of Marketing and Stallion Syndicate at Diamond Creek Farm in Wellsville, it’s all about the Standardbreds.

Diamond Creek breeds standardbreds, the horses used in harness racing, where the human controls the horse while riding behind it in a cart. They tend to have heavier builds than thoroughbreds.

“They have big heads, big bone structure,” says Vazquez. “They’re very hardy animals, they’re dependable, reliable.”

When standardbreds race, they don’t gallop like thoroughbreds; instead, they use one of two gaits, the trot or the pace. In both gaits, only two legs touch the ground at the same time.

With the trot, it’s a diagonal–left front-right rear, right front-left rear. In the pace the two legs are always on the same side–left front-left rear, right front-right rear.

Right now it’s foaling time at the farm, which Vazquez says is the busiest time of the year for them.

“It’s exciting because you never know what you’re going to get, you don’t know what they’ll look like, so it’s always fun,” Vazquez said.

In answer to the question of what it’s like dealing with foals, she says, “very much toddler personalities. They throw temper tantrums just like human kids do, they have good moods and bad moods just like humans.”

And, she adds, you deal with them much the same way you deal with human children.

“You have to teach them how to behave, So you have to have the patience to understand they’re not going to understand you all of the time. If you go into a situation angry or upset, you’re going to just get that right back at you,” Vazquez said.

Diamond Creek Farm likes to welcome visitors. Last year the pandemic shut the facility to the public, and they had to cancel their annual open house.

Vazquez hopes that, with proper precautions, people will be able to come see the operation this year.

“If you come out here, and you spend some time with the horses, you’re definitely going to learn something, about yourself and about animals in general,” Vazquez said.

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