The versatile Standardbred horse is strong and muscular, and many have long racing careers. Once their racing career has ended, this popular breed can go on to many different off-the-track careers, and a special program to encourage that has been launched.
The Standardbred Incentive Program (SIP) was created by the United States Trotting Association (USTA). “It was launched last summer to promote the use of Standardbreds off the track, once they’re done racing, or if they never made it to the track,” said Jessica Schroeder, Membership Enrichment and Outreach Coordinator with the USTA.
“We’re just trying to create a program that, for people that have Standardbreds, whether they own them, or adopted them, that they could participate with the USTA (to promote that) they can go out trail riding; showing; doing endurance riding; doing things like that. Then they get recognition for doing those. So if you go to a show, and you place third in a halter class, you submit that placing, and you get points for year-end awards.”
Photo Credit to Emily Bost

The interest has been growing within the industry, even though this program is still relatively young. “We started mid-show season last year, so we were just trying to get the word out, but it’s almost doubled in participation numbers already so far this year from last year!” Jessica said enthusiastically. “We’re really excited about all of the sign-ups we’ve gotten. It is early in this year’s show season, so there aren’t a lot of placing submitted yet because people are just getting their show schedules together. They’re still enrolling their horses and submitting shows for approval so that we know they are coming in June, July and August. But we’re really happy with the numbers right now. I would like to say ‘growing exponentially’,” she laughed.

With all of the various non-racing disciplines to choose from for the Standardbred, they are all equally being utilized. “Right now, we’re seeing a pretty even amount participating in all of the different divisions. We have a handler performance, so that’s basically about the person that’s handling the horse; that’s like showmanship, reinsmanship, equitation; but there’s still an element where the horse has to be well-behaved. We have a three-phase division, which is like the Eventing, where there is jumping and Dressage involved. We have English; Western; Dressage; Games and Contesting; Trail and Endurance. As of right now, when you look at the different divisions and sub-divisions, it’s pretty even across the board because there are so many types of classes.”
“We’re still working on promoting what you get for trail riding,” she added. “We don’t have very many people participating in trail riding yet because they don’t really understand (the end result). When you submit placings and you get points, people can understand that, and know what the end goal is at the end of the year. With trail riding, we’re probably just going to do, as of right now, things like, once you hit certain milestones, like a hundred miles of trail riding with your horse, you’ll get something; with two hundred fifty miles, or five hundred miles. Those would be the milestones you get recognition for. I do foresee that growing really big soon, too.”
Trail riding is one of the divisions that Northeast Pennsylvania trainer Emily Bost has been enjoying with her Standardbred, Keystone Sergeant. “He’s currently racing and I also trail-ride him,” Emily explained. The trainer, based at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania, owns a farm in Lehman, Pennsylvania with her significant other, former driver/trainer Steve Salerno and their son Colton, and has been training horses for 5 years. Their stable has 13 horses at the present time, split between their farm and Silver Springs Ranch near Harvey’s Lake. Her love of horses developed at the young age of 5, and she has been riding, and has owned horses, since that time.
“I think it’s a great program! Just to take my racehorses out to ride them around on the trails. I was excited when I heard about the SIP, and I thought it was really cool to show that these horses could do something else other than race. It’s good for them to get out there, and to encourage other people to ride Standardbreds because it’s such a beautiful, wonderful breed! They’re the best on the trails. Just log in to the program and clock your miles in.”
Emily often rides with her good friend and fellow horsewoman, Sabine Spring, who has rescued countless

Photo Credit to Emily Bost

horses over the years, and Emily describes her as ‘an angel for the horses.’ The two ride year round with their beloved horses, and Emily can’t say enough about the experience. “Standardbreds are amazing horses. I’ve transitioned a lot of them, and I ride a lot of them that I still race. They love it, because it’s something different and a different viewpoint and it freshens them up, and they’re such a flexible, willing breed. They just want to please. They’re so brave and they’re so honest.”

Encouraging other horseman and horsewoman to get involved with the SIP, Emily points out that the feeling of accomplishment after earning awards with the program is reward in itself. “When you go to a horse show, you get a ribbon. It’s the same kind of great feeling, and transitioning them to another career after racing is truly rewarding.”
To get horses involved with the Standardbred Incentive Program, the rider or driver must be a member of the USTA and have access to email to set up a USTA MyAccount. The SIP season runs from December 1 through November 30 annually. Further information can be found for this program at
Cover Photo Credit to Emily Bost
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