Melissa Blair is taking retired pacers and retraining them at her Invergordon-based Tramel Park Standardbreds.By Ashleigh Williamson
Nories Special was an average pacer who Melissa Blair never intended to keep for long.
A childhood spent at Shepparton Pony Club told Mrs Blair standardbreds such Nories Special were a poor man’s thoroughbred and no good for riding.
Mrs Blair and her husband Travis have since developed Tramel Park Standardbreds — a farm where injured, retired or slow pacers are retrained to ride at shows.
‘‘They’re the sort of breed that tries really hard to please you,’’ she said.
‘‘They just want to do what’s right.
‘‘They’re amazing to work with.’’
Mrs Blair, 24, had to beg her parents for a horse as a child.
They bought her a few riding lessons, thinking her interest would quickly pass.
‘‘They only made me worse, so they eventually had to give me a pony (aged 10),’’ she said.
Mrs Blair quit a speech pathology course at Charles Sturt University in Albury to work for Anne and Steve O’Donoghue at Morley Park Stud in Shepparton.
The O’Donoghues converted Mrs Blair to standardbreds and gave her Nories Special after the gelding retired with three wins from 37 starts for about $11
‘‘I call them my horse parents because they taught me everything,’’ Mrs Blair said.
‘‘I said I’d break (Nories Special) in to saddle, but I didn’t want a standardbred to ride, they were supposed to be horrible.
‘‘I hadn’t planned on keeping him, but he really wowed me.’’
Mrs Blair earned a degree as a horse masseuse and started retraining standardbreds destined for the knackery.
She could retrain up to three horses at a Kialla rental farm before buying a 6
Tramel Park is full with 16 former pacers, with another 10 waiting for a vacancy.
Her 50th horse she will retrain arrived on Tuesday.
‘‘I have a couple that won $40
Mrs Blair’s program involves spelling a horse if it has just finished racing, before at least three weeks’ training under saddle.
‘‘I have to change their muscles to get them used to riding, not pulling (a sulky),’’ she said.
‘‘Their brains tend to switch over phenomenally easy.’’
Mrs Blair has retrained horses from as far away as Melton and Mildura.
She said horses spent at least three months at her property before being sold to a new home.
Nories Special is Tramel Park’s only permanent resident.
Mrs Blair has been to the Royal Melbourne Show with him.
‘‘I will never, ever part with him. He is the most amazing horse I’ve ever owned,’’ she said.
‘‘He’s absolutely bombproof under saddle, he’s the best riding horse.
‘‘There’s not much he hasn’t won.’’
Mrs Blair said the best part of her job was hearing from owners about the show successes of horses she retrained.
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