A Heart of Gold
By Hayley Clarke
Brenda Middleton has always had a passion for horses, especially Standardbreds. Her idea to begin rehoming Standardbreds came when she met her partner Andrew and that is how the Waikato Standardbred Rehoming was born.
“When I met Andrew he wanted to get into riding with me and I thought a Standardbred would be ideal for him so I started to hunt down a Standardbred for him. Todd Mitchell was very kind and gave us a lovely horse for Andrew to learn on. Then got to the stage where he needed to move on to something else, next level and that's how it all started.”
With the increasing demand to give Standardbreds a life after racing, Brenda began her quest to break them in to saddle and rehomes them on to keen horse riders.
“It seemed to me that there were quite a lot of horses available, a lot of horses needing homes and I found that it was a relatively easy process backing these beautiful creatures.”
“Don't get me wrong I've had my fair share of spills and breaks and you do get the odd fizzy Standardbred, 40 years of experience worth!”
Brenda lives on a 2-acre lifestyle block and is lucky enough to having more grazing for the Standardbreds that she takes on.
When she decided to start rehoming Standardbreds the opportunity to take on a lease of 5 acres came up, so she decided to bring horses in to rehome and has been fortunate enough to be offered another 4 acres, although she says there’s always more horses than land available.
Brenda works part-time in the mornings working with palliative people. Then in the afternoons she looks after her horses which she considers a bit of an outlet from her morning job.
“For me it's rather nice because what I see people go through or have seen people go through with terminal illness isn't always nice, so rehoming Standardbreds is an outlet for me and a hobby.”
Although rehoming Standardbreds is very rewarding, it also has its challenges.
“The most challenging part of rehoming horses would be trying to keep up, having to say no because there's no room for any more horses on your property, that breaks my heart. I try not to have to do that, very rarely have I done that. Winter finances gets really hard over winter making sure the horses have got enough food and people aren't always wanting horses over winter or drought seasons, they are the hard times, the challenging times. Horses are never challenging, I love my horses.”
“The best part of rehoming Standardbreds is the joy to see a horse go to a good home and every time I rehome a horse and put it on the float, it goes off down the driveway, it's head turning around and looking at me like to say ‘where am I going?’ but I know it's a good home because I vet all my homes before my horse's go out.”
Brenda couldn’t tell you exactly how many Standardbred’s she has rehomed but she believes it is close to 500.
“I'm rehoming horses for the sake of horses, I will keep rehoming horses until my body will not allow me to do this any longer.”