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Standardbred, 40, Makes Local News

Published: January 21, 2018 10:22 am ET

Last Comment: January 26, 2018 8:47 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

A 40-year-old Standardbred with a zest for life was profiled late last week by the United States Trotting Association. It was also around that time that the Butlers Dream gelding was being profiled by local media for another reason altogether.

Audras Dream is the elder statesman in question. He was purchased by his current owners 36 years ago and continues to love life in Massachusetts.

The ex-racehorse made the news this past Thursday (January 18) after local firefighters had to get Audras Dream back up after a fall on ice left him in a perilous position.

A brief video report by the Daily Hampshire Gazette appears below and is followed by the USTA piece on the gelding.

He may not move as swiftly as he once did, and his once dark coat is now streaked with grey, but age has not diminished the sparkle in his eye or the zest for life 40-year-old Audras Dream, one of the oldest known living Standardbreds in the U.S., continues to possess.

“He really enjoys his time outside with his companion, Rocket,” said co-owner Kathy Swiderski. “He soaks up the sun and takes naps. He’s not as fast as he used to be, but he moves pretty well for his age and is in very good health.”

Purchased by Kathy and her husband, Thomas, as a four-year-old, the gelded son of Butlers Dream and Lady Audra arrived in this world in 1978 in New Ipswich, N.H. He commenced his career, which consisted of 45 trips to the post, in the spring of 1981 and appeared primarily at the now defunct Hinsdale Raceway, as well as a number of county fairs across New England. Although he was not a stakes performer with a total bankroll of $2,153 and a lifetime mark of 2:09h, Audras Dream has provided the Swiderski family with an item that is much more valuable than mere cash.

“We bought him to get started in racing,” Swiderski said. “My husband has since driven at fairs throughout New England and has always loved harness racing. He reads anything he can find about it and follows the sport every day.

“We just love Standardbreds and Audras Dream represents everything that is so wonderful about the breed. We’ve had other Standardbreds that we have raced, but he’s always been very special to us. All our Standardbreds we keep. They lived to be 21, 29 and 33 years old. We have never sold one; once they come to our farm they are here for life!"

Audras Dream, pictured after his fall and rescue on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 (Image courtesy the Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Retired in 1983 as a five-year-old after a pasture accident, Audras Dream has whiled away the years on the Swiderskis’ farm in East Hampton, Mass. His gentle demeanour and fondness for his human colleagues endowed him with the nickname of ‘Kissy,’ which was supplied by the Swiderskis' daughter, Rachel, when she was only two years old and remains with him today.

“He has brought our entire family a tremendous amount of joy for 36 years; who would have imagined he would be with us for this long?” Swiderski said. “We have been blessed each day he has been part of our lives and he’s not just an animal or horse to us, but a member of our family. How could he not be?”

Despite the obvious issues horses, as well as humans, experience with an advancing age, Audras Dream continues to relish his meals and basks in all the attention the Swiderskis provide him. The gelding also is quite partial to one particular treat.

“He eats his mash twice a day since at his age, he doesn’t have teeth,” Swiderski said. “He’s not exactly crazy about it, but his appetite has not diminished as he has gotten older; he just might prefer grain to mash. We still give him snacks, too, and his favourite is honeycombs. He doesn’t have to worry about chewing them and he just stands there letting them dissolve in his mouth. You can tell from the look on his face how much he loves them; it’s like he’s in his own heaven.”

While Audras Dream is certainly a unique individual by virtue of his age, the gelding’s life definitely was extended due to the exceptional bond between the horse and his human family.

“It is remarkable how much he has taught all of us,” Swiderski said. “I’m a visiting nurse and he has taught me about health. He also taught us about harness racing. In fact, he used to get so excited to race he would get down and roll in the paddock while I was holding him. I was always worried he would get trapped under something and hurt himself, but instead that just taught my husband and I a new thing about horses. It also allowed us to develop relationships with other people involved in racing that were wonderful.

“But the most important thing he has taught us is about love; the love we have for each other as a family and for others, as well as the love we have for him. He has given us so much more than we can ever repay and every morning we get to spend time with him is a gift.”


January 26, 2018 - 8:47 pmWow. 40 years young, What an

Wow. 40 years young, What an amazing story

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