Trotters and Pacers Racing Under Saddle
 By Winniefield Park   •   22nd Nov 2017   •   1,288 views   •   0 comments

Who isnít familiar with the sight of a Standardbred racehorse hitched to a light bike, flying down the track? Standardbreds have two racing gaits: trotting and pacing. Pacing tends to be more popular because it is the faster gait of the two. While pacing, both legs on one side of the horse reach forward, while the opposite two drive back. When a horse trots, the two diagonal legs reach forward. Both of these gaits can propel the driver around the track in less than two minutes. But, thereís a new sport for racing these horses that is gaining popularity. (Or, perhaps you could say itís a new incarnation of an old sport.) Some say RUS is revitalizing the Standardbred industry by offering something new and exciting to the race cards. And itís another way of course, for owners to enjoy their horses.

Itís known as RUS or racing under saddle. In Europe, itís known as Montť racing or trot Montť. And in recent years, there have been a number of events held in North America, and associations formed for those who want to take part. For this sport, only trotters are used in events sanctioned by the various governing bodies. Instead of being raced with harness and vehicle, Standardbreds are instead ridden by jockeys. Pacers are used, but these are ridden in less formal races.

For most sanctioned races in North America, Standardbred trotters must be at least three years old. There is a qualifying time a horse must be able to match each season in order to compete. The races take place on the same track as harness racing does and are often held in conjunction with a harness racing schedule. In some places, they may be included in the betting, in other places they are offered only for entertainment.

The equipment used for RUS differs from the gear used on Thoroughbreds. The saddle is similar, but a breast collar and crupper are used to hold the saddle firmly. A head check is worn, but the hopples and other paraphernalia worn by harness racing horses are not.

Judging by the videos and pictures available of RUS, jockeys are a bit different than one would see on a Thoroughbred track. Not as much consideration is given to the weight or height of the jockey, although as the sport grows, this will probably change. Many of the riders sit in a more upright position, rather than crouched low over the horseís withers as in Thoroughbred racing. This is changing as well.

European riders RUS jockeys ride more like Thoroughbred jockeys, and itís the riding position now recommended by many North American RUS organizations. To keep up out of the saddle, itís recommended that a set of reins be placed on the race halter to brace against. Knee padding is often worn, as the motion can be hard on that joint.

Where can you go to watch RUS? Several tracks in Ontario, Canada including Hiawatha, Hanover, and Kawartha Downs have RUS. In Ontario, betting on the Monte races is allowed. Tracks in Maryland and Vermont hold RUS races and in New York, the races are held in conjunction with fairs. Trot Monte America had its first season in 2012 and promotes racing throughout the states.
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