Rockin Redford embarks on second career in racking
Standardbreds are consistently showing their versatility, whether it’s for riding or driving, for show or pleasure. Hoof Beats is happy to share stories from readers about their favorite retired Standardbreds. This month, Megan Rider writes about former racing trotter Rockin Redford, who is in training to become a “single foot” showhorse.
Chestnut trotter Rockin Redford (SJ’s Caviar – Chaka Khan – American Winner) was foaled in 2012 in Cochranton, Pa., and raised by trainer Leslie Dunn Zendt’s father, the late Walter “Boots” Dunn. Zendt purchased an interest in the gelding from her husband, Bill, as a 4-year-old and raced him for a year and a half.
In January 2017, trainer Mark Ford became Rockin Redford’s new owner and the horse raced for him until December 2018. Rockin Redford, however, had developed some gate issues and refused to start. Ford contacted Zendt and explained the situation. She welcomed the trotter with open arms after buying him back.
Zendt raced Rockin Redford at The Meadows that winter, but it did not take long for her to realize the gelding’s heart was no longer in his profession and it was time for him to retire.
During his career, Rockin Redford earned $146,985 and compiled a record of 122-14-12-17 with a lifetime mark of 1:55. He was victorious at The Meadowlands, The Meadows, and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. He also performed at the county fairs in the Keystone State.
The end of Rockin Redford’s racing career was the beginning of a dream come true for college student and avid horse lover Selena Janes. Janes, 27, grew up in the small town of Greenburg, Ky., and attends Western Kentucky University. She is currently majoring in pre-veterinary medicine with a concentration in equine science.
Janes’ profound love for horses began at an early age as she became involved in the industry when she was 6.
“I remember my father picking me up early from school and bringing me to a trailer where a little red mare was waiting for me, and ever since then I have been hooked,” she said. “I have ridden racking horses my whole life. I specifically started with them when I was around 6 or 7 years old.
“In the past, I performed with the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association with the racking gait instead of the running walk. My grandparents and my parents both enjoyed riding the racking gait and I just followed in their footsteps. As of right now, Redford is the only Standardbred I own that performs the rack.”
Most of Janes’ experience has been with Tennessee Walking Horses, but she transitioned to Standardbreds about six years ago. And she had a great reason.
“There is nothing the Standardbred can’t do,” she said. “I started riding and working with Standardbreds when I was around 21 or 22, but I just rode them because I wasn’t fully knowledgeable of the breed. It wasn’t until 2018 that I really became involved in the industry and started adopting horses and trying to advocate for the breed. I’ve been able to offer a home that many owners have felt comfortable sending their ‘babies’ to.”
Janes had been browsing agencies to adopt a Standardbred when she saw Rockin Redford was available. She had always wanted a chestnut Standardbred, but they are not always easy to find.
“It was love at first sight and I was hopeful that I would eventually get my hands on him,” she said.
Thus began Janes’ relentless pursuit of Rockin Redford and in April 2020, she was finally able to bring him home. Rockin Redford lives in Janes’ barn, along with some friends—a Tennessee Walking Horse and five off-the-track Standardbreds.
“The names of my other horses are Believe This Bob (Beach Romeo, $528,697) and Believe This Romeo ($121,680), who are full brothers, from Skowyra Racing Stables in Binghamton N.Y.,” Janes said. “I did sign a contract for these boys, but not through a facility. Big Jer (Cheyenne Rei, $470,033) is another New York horse from Harmon Racing Stable. I also signed a contract on him, but not through a facility. Stonebridge Classy (No Pan Intended, $154,753) and Ride A Cowboy (Bettor’s Delight, $242,620) was adopted through a facility, and last but not least is my old, faithful walking horse Bionic’s Bay Lady, who I have owned since 2004.”
Rockin Redford is currently transitioning into his second career as a racking horse. The rack is a fast, evenly timed, bilateral gait in which each foot meets the ground separately at equal intervals. It is neither a pace nor a trot. It is often called a “single-foot” because only one foot strikes the ground at a time.
He is currently in training under Pete Slemp, a racking horse trainer who has trained a number of horses to world champion status. Trotters like Rockin Redford have become popular in the racking horse community, which is no surprise due to their adaptability and willingness to learn.
With his strong work ethic and eagerness to please, Rockin Redford has taken to racking well, and within the next year he will be registered with the Racking Horse Breeders and Owners Association of America to begin his journey as a show horse. Janes has plans to show him in style racking and possibly speed racking.
Slemp, who works primarily with Standardbreds, believes Rockin Redford has the potential to be a fun horse in the show ring, and Janes has high hopes of him earning the title of world champion with her in the saddle.
Janes speaks highly of Rockin Redford’s demeanor and personality and says he is unique.
“Rockin Redford is a horse that everyone loves, whether they have met him or not,” Janes said. “He has received a lot of recognition from well-known racking horse exhibitors and has many social media fans.”
Janes says although he is spunky under saddle, on the ground he is a horse for anyone. The 8-year-old’s gentle nature affords children the opportunity to get up close and personal with him. Janes describes him as a hardworking, goofy, affable horse.
“He is such an easy horse to fall in love with and he always tries his best to please,” she said. “He has been a blessing in my life, and I am so thankful to own such a nice horse.”
Megan Rider is a freelance writer living in New York. To comment on this story, email us at email@example.com.