Retired horses rescued and retrained

WHEN a family from Corunna made a commitment to take in two unwanted horses they didn’t realise it would be such a rewarding experience.

Sophia Moody and Phil May heard about the two six-year-old, Standardbred, retired pacers who had been taken in by Kim Hillier in the Riverina region of New South Wales.

Standardbreds are a solid, well-built breed of horse best known for their ability to race in a harness instead of under a saddle at a gallop.

The horses had been used in harness racing but had retired and the owners were keen for the horses to go to a good home and avoid an unfortunate end at the cannery.

Kim took in the horses and retrained them over a few months while she found them a permanent home.

Three weeks ago Sophia and Phil borrowed a horse float and made the epic journey to Leeton. Kim charged $200 per horse which is a far cry from the original cost of $130,000 of one of the horses.

On the return trip to Corunna the float got a flat tyre on the freeway but the horses were not perturbed.

“The horses were so docile,” Phil said.

Sophia who had no previous experience with Standardbreds is used to more flighty horses and has been astounded by their excellent disposition.

“They seem like aliens to me; they are so relaxed and easy going about everything,” Sophia said.

The horses, newly named Big Red and Buddy, have settled in well to their new home and are fattening up on lush low-lying pasture at the back of Corunna Lake.

“When you go into the paddock they sometimes come up and stick their heads on your shoulder,” Phil said praising their affectionate nature.

He says Standardbreds can easily be re-trained, “They are good listeners and are willing to learn”.

The horses have had no trouble adjusting to being saddled and ridden and will soon learn how to canter.

Sophia and Phil’s seven-year-old daughter Abby has been riding Big Red 1km to the school bus every morning and the horse remains unfazed at all times even when trucks go past.

Mia their four-year-old daughter rides them as well. “She can put her hand on Big Red’s chest and say ‘back up’ and he backs up,” Phil said.

“It’s been so rewarding, saving their lives and has been great to give the girls a confidence boost with animals,” Sophia said.

The couple can’t recommend Standardbreds strongly enough saying they are quiet and not at all snobby. They hope that other people may be inspired by their story.

Kim is happy to hear from people who are interested in taking in horses that are no longer wanted and can be contacted via

She has taken in a number of Standardbreds which she has retrained and rehomed and says she only sells them if they are quiet and suitable.

Alternatively people can go to and search the Trading Ring under Links.

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