Rescued Saddlebred competes in first USEF Horse Trial

Saddlebred Rescue horse Mikey competing in his first USEF sanctioned horse trial (eventing). It was 16-17 April, 2011 at the River Glen Horse Trial in New Market, TN. We placed 5th out of 15 starters in Beginner Novice Open division. He was a rock star and garnered alot of attention and questions at the cross country finish line. Of course I said “He’s an American Saddlebred!”.

To see Mikey’s Saddlebred Rescue thread and read his story, click here:…?TOPIC_ID=3407


Mr. Sinister, aka Moe

Mr Sinister - American Saddlebred

How many of us have been fortunate enough to be owned by “The One?” I have.

Mr Sinister - American SaddlebredMr. Sinister AKA Moe is a 2002 American Saddlebred gelding by Slam Dunk H.G. and out of Dancing Damsel.

Moe isn’t just a horse. He’s my best friend, babysitter, trail explorer, and therapist. He’s been my worst enemy and my best friend. He’s taught me so much about love, dedication, and the true meaning of being a partner.

Mr. Sinister - American Saddlebred

Moe was a gangly, young, fuzzy horse when I bought him in 2004. He had no formal training and I wasn’t a trainer. Over the course of the next several years, I relied on common sense to work on manners and ground work.

In 2006, my husband received orders with the United States Marine Corps and we traveled to Camp Lejeune, NC. A friend, Jazz Busenbark, lived in the area and owned several American Saddlebreds, and so I boarded my horses at her facility. She helped tremendously with Moe’s training, and I grinned ear to ear the first time she sat on his back. I laughed until I cried the first time I sat on his back.

Over the course of the last few years, Moe has blossomed into a strong, willing, handsome horse. He never says no to me, and he tries very hard to please!

Despite my pipe dreams of racking on the Green Shavings, Moe steered me to the world of Hunter Country Pleasure. In 2010, he made his debut in that division and showed at Raleigh Spring Premier and Bonnie Blue. I was so proud of his attitude and how he shined. The color of the ribbon was insignificant. Knowing that we had finally arrived was my victory lap.Mr. Sinister - American Saddlebred

Moe is an amazing trail horse. We’ve camped on the beach together. He’s toted my children around. He’s ponied frightened horses through chest deep water in a gully. He’s navigated ravines. He’s never refused a jump. He is the ultimate “sporthorse” in my eyes and HE TOOK ME THERE! I love him as much as the day is long.

Meet Rebel


What does it take to move a horse owner to a completely different breed of horse and a completely different competitive discipline? When Christine Cook began her latest search for a horse, her criteria were a horse who didn’t have a “no” and one with a smooth canter. Although she had always owned Quarter Horses, the testimonials she was hearing on the internet encouraged her to expand her search to Saddlebreds and Morgans.

“Lucky for me, I liked Rebel better than the Morgans I tried! I liked that the Saddlebreds seemed alert and that they were supposed to have a good canter. I was worried that they might be too alert! People first notice that he is flashy. The seller told me, ‘Rebel will get you noticed in the show ring. What happens next is up to you.’ They also notice that he is ‘super alert’, as my vet called him. If they stick around long enough, they realize that while he is on alert, he doesn’t do anything stupid about it.”

Christine started her journey with horses with hunt seat lessons at age 8. At age 12, her “well meaning but clueless” parents bought her a green 3 yr old Quarter Horse. After the rocky road one can expect with an inexperienced child and a green horse, he grew into a wonderful partner. “He was so versatile. I kept him until he died at 26. Of course, I tried to find the same horse by looking at Quarter Horses. After an unsuccessful 5 years with a witch of a Quarter Horse mare, I decided to expand my search to other breeds.”

In the spring of 2009, Christine answered a local ad for a bay tobiano Saddlebred gelding named Midnight’s Magic Rebel. The horse was shown to her in a bit she didn’t feel was working out for him. In fact, he was flat out fighting it and looked ready to defend himself. She asked for an equipment change, and went ahead and tried the horse. “He did not say ‘NO’ to me, despite being in a totally foreign environment, totally out of shape, and most likely sore in the mouth.”   They seemed to click right away.

Lucky for Rebel, he was soon home with his new owner.  Now the challenge was to find the right venue to show off her new horse. Sometimes it can be intimidating to find your place in an unfamiliar area of the horse world. “I was riding English Pleasure, basically, at open shows. Rebel would not do well in those classes. So we tried some Saddle Seat. That might have worked out, but the Saddle Seat and Hunt Seat classes are generally combined here and we would not be competitive that way.”

Christine even took him to a saddle seat clinic to learn about the Saddlebred’s most common style of riding, but that still wasn’t quite the right fit. “Finally, I caved in to my trainer’s suggestions and started working towards showing in dressage. Voila – our niche! We qualified for year end championships for our local dressage organization at Training Level. We won some blues and watched our dressage scores steadily increase.”

When asked what Rebel’s most unique or special trait was, she replied “He genuinely seems to like some people and will seek them out. We have a routine, when I leave the barn, he always puts his head out his window and I stop to scratch the side of his muzzle. He watches me through my house windows, looking from room to room until he finds me. I wave and he whinnies.”  Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Sassy Doll

Sassy Doll - American Saddlebred

Hi, my name is Sassy.  I’m a chestnut Saddlebred mare from Illinois.  When I’m not hanging out in the pasture with the other horses here, I get ridden and shown by girl named Elena.  I don’t mind being ridden, because she keeps life interesting.  Plus, she brings me delicious treats.  I love treats!  Since coming to Irish Hills Farm couple years ago Elena and I have had several adventures together.  I thought I would share our adventure about the first time we went to the Illinois Jr. Horse Show.

Now before coming to the show, I learned all about this show from Stormy, the grumpy old Arab in the pasture.  He had gone the year before with Elena and had done well.  He told me what to expect and that it would last a week.  Stormy talked about how hot it will be and not to worry that Elena will give me my own personal fan.  He gave me some advice on being a youth horse – Golden Rule—you keep your rider in the middle of the saddle, no matter what.  I always try to follow that rule.  Stormy went on and on about how well did at that show.  I told him I could do better than him.  So, we made a bet.

We arrived on a Monday in July unpacked and settled in.

Sassy Doll - American Saddlebred

Sassy Doll and Elena

I was given a light workout.  On Tuesday the show began.  I competed in the following classes throughout the week:   Halter, Showmanship, Trail, Saddle Seat Pleasure, Road Hack, Society Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship, Saddle Seat Equitation, Costume, and Barrels.  I placed in a majority of my classes.  I won the Saddle Seat Pleasure Class.  I learned that it had been over 10 years since a Saddlebred had won this class.  Since I brought home the blue it made me the winner of the bet.

Since that show Elena and I have had several adventures at shows, in parades, clinics, trail rides, and just riding for fun.  She even wrote a poem about our adventure.  You can have similar adventure; all you need is your own American Saddlebred Horse.

Written by DRK Sassy Doll

Typed by her ghost writer, Rebecca Curry.

Blue Ribbon

Before the dawn, I rise with drowsy eyes

As the sun rises in the east, I bathe my noble beast

Anxiously she prances, suds swirling in the breeze

Hurrying we pack, the trailer filled to the brim

Saddles, bridles, horses, away we go to the show

As we arrive, we spray, shimmer and shine with blackened hoofs

Dressed to the nines, hair up and helmet on, we head to the ring

Smile, tall in the saddle, head high, hands up, heels down

Moving as one, walk, trot, canter

Endlessly smiling, reverse, walk, trot, canter

Hearts pounding, nostrils flaring, stomachs fluttering

We line up as a statue, awaiting the placings

Fifth, fourth, third, second the announcer calls

DRK Sassy Doll and Elena win the blue

Breathlessly, we make our victory pass

by Elena Jimenez

Meet Louie


I haven’t been a “Saddlebred person” my whole life.  I started out my horseback adventures after being bitten by the “horse bug” in grade school, taking lessons at a local barn and very happy to ride anything with four legs- mostly stock-breed horses and Arabians.  For several years, I learned to ride and compete in western pleasure, hunt seat, and showmanship at halter, though I never had a horse of my own, and certainly not a Saddlebred.  A few of the barn girls and I were kind of like groupies and followed our trainer around while she did her chores, watched closely as she trained horses of all types and levels of training, and were very much so human sponges, soaking up everything we could possibly learn about how to care for and train horses.  The lessons learned in those days have really helped to guide and shape us as we set out on our own horsey adventures.

A few years back, my husband and I were at a local show where I was competing with a stock-breed paint that I had been leasing, when he remarked at what amazing horses were showing in the ring.  There were a few American Saddlebreds competing in this open show in the English classes, and they grabbed our attention with their flashy way of going and exciting presence.  I had always thought they were gorgeous animals so I said to my husband, “do you want to see more?” and the next weekend we went to watch a demonstration put on at a local fairgrounds, all about the Saddlebred.  We both had goose bumps watching these breathtaking animals trot into the ring, the crowd cheering, and the organ music piping- this was no ordinary horse show by our standards and it was filled with excitement and awe.  My husband entered in a drawing and won a set of lessons with Centre Pointe Stables in Delano, MN.  From that point on, we were hooked.

The following year I found myself a Saddlebred to train and show as a saddle seat horse.  He was a good project for me as an amateur owner trainer and taught me a lot about myself, how to ride, and how to train through various situations.  His sweet and quirky personality was delightful, but in time I realized he wasn’t quite the right fit for me.  I had this horse for 3 years before I decided it was time to move on to my next adventure.

In the fall of 2008 I saw an ad on Craig’s List for a local breeder dispersing some of her young stock for the winter.  I had been searching the online ads with no luck, so one October day, my friend and I went out to look at the sale horses- yearlings and two-year-olds available at Indigo Acres, in Montrose, MN.  As the owner showed us around, the large herds of gorgeous and curious horses came up to the gates and commanded our attention, eager to win our affection.  We went into the pen of 30 or so yearlings and they all came up to be petted and check us out.  We were surrounded by a herd of gorgeous young horses that all wanted us to take them home.  We then went into the pen with a smaller herd of only 10 or so two-year-olds, all of whom had been started in long lines and handled, but were otherwise fresh, clean slates.  The horses were too close to us to really get a good look at them, so the breeder brought us in to her house and showed us some videos of a few horses she had available. Louie When we saw the papers and the video for “Ro & Me’s Master of Illusion” we knew right then and there this was the one.  “Milkman,” as the breeder called him because of his white lips, was a gorgeous and big chestnut two-year-old with tons of talent, excellent breeding, and a great head on his shoulders.  The breeder had started him in long lines and was confident that he would be an excellent match for an amateur like me.  I wanted a two-year-old because I wanted to get started with the training soon, and the price was right for this incredible animal.  We asked her to hold him for a day so that I could take the video home to show my husband.  On the way home, my friend and I were almost screaming in giddiness, brainstorming new names for the horse, if I would be able to buy him.  Finally we landed on “Louie” after Master of Il-LU-sion, and also dreaming big, thinking “Louisville,” the host city of the Kentucky State Fair and World’s Championship Horse Show.  We arrived at home and made our pitch to my husband, and showed him the video.  He smiled watching the video, as this horse used his legs like one of the best saddle seat horses out there.  I think I must have watched that video 100 times.  Later that day, I called the breeder back to tell her that I would take the “Milkman,” and could pick him up the following week.  I hardly slept that whole week, so excited to bring my new baby home and get started with him.

LouieA week later I brought Louie home.  He adjusted quickly and I went out to visit him daily where he was boarded at my friend’s barn.  We began our relationship as most do, just getting to know one another.  We went for walks, worked on grooming, cross tying, and of course lots of petting.  We worked on showmanship (see, those early days of training came in handy!), lunging, long-lining, and desensitization in preparation for some early under saddle work.  So, after about 2 weeks, we were getting along pretty well and working well as a team from the ground.

Thus the next big challenge.  Louie was pretty big already for a 2-year-old- well balanced, strong, and coordinated at about 15.3 hands.  From our work from the ground I could see what an amazingly smart horse he is and how quickly he picked up on new things in our lessons.  Louie was physically and mentally ready for the next step.  So on November 10th, 2008, I decided it was time to take the big leap and ride my baby.  Of course this was preceded in the week or so prior by desensitizing Louie to the saddle and bridle, getting him used to a little bit of weight on his back and around his sides, and the concept of not being able to see his mom above/behind him very well.  So thus the moment of truth- I chose the deepest, softest part of the arena, led Louie up to a fence and asked him to stand while I positioned myself for what was going to be the beginning of a long road of learning for both of us- and might be a complete disaster.  My heart was pumping, but I tried to remain calm, deep breaths- Louie could care less, he was clueless about the adventures upon which he was about to embark.  I put one foot up in the stirrup- no reaction.  I put a little bit of weight in the stirrup, still no reaction.  I leaned over the saddle- a precarious situation, but Louie acted as if he didn’t even notice- he was busy thinking about what that wood fence in front of him might taste like.  I petted Louie and told him what a good boy he was- just in case he forgot where I was- then I slid back down.  Pet and repeat- a few times.  Finally after I was quite sure that Louie was bored with “whatever Mom is trying to do over there,” I pulled my right leg over.  I was sitting on my horse- I didn’t know whether to be terrified or excited- I think I was both.  And that’s what we did for several minutes- just sat there calculating the situation.  Neither one of us moved other than my hand on his withers petting him and saying “good boy.”  LouieFinally when I decided we were ready to push the envelope a little bit more, I turned his head, squeezed my calves against his sides, and clucked to walk off.  We walked about 3 steps and stopped.  This process continued for about 5 more minutes- walk a few steps and stop.  Then being quite satisfied and proud of our accomplishments, I hopped down and practiced mounting and dismounting a couple times more.  Louie got a big pat, hugs and kisses, and got to go out to be with his buddies in the pasture.  Wow was I ever excited- I rode my baby!  What a rush to ride a horse for its first time (though I must admit it wasn’t that interesting)!

Since then, Louie has learned more and more about riding.  I am so pleased that he has been quite tolerant with me as he is the first horse I can say I have fully trained under saddle from the ground up.  Of course my very experienced friend Sandy has helped me a lot with coaching from the ground and the daily phone calls and advice, but otherwise the past 2 years have been an adventure that Louie and I have shared together with each other.

Along the way we’ve encountered a few bumps in the road, with injuries that young horses sustain, and of course the big transition from working saddle seat to hunt seat when I finally allowed myself to see that Louie was happier and more comfortable with his head lower in a hunter frame. Louie I really did want a saddle seat horse, but I’m happy to go wherever Louie would like to take me, as he has been the most fulfilling, caring, and enjoyable horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  I wouldn’t say Louie is quite finished yet, but we’re not too far off.

Louie has also proven to be something else that is very important to me- versatile.  Beyond arena riding, we have participated in many other events.  As a 3-year-old, he attended a 5-day pointing dog field trial (complete with loose dogs running Louieunder the horses, gun shots on course, large groups of horses riding together, horse-camping on a stake-out, etc.) and handled all of that stimulation quite well.  He impressed me with his ability to adapt and remain calm in anxiety-provoking situations.  We have also done some trail riding, which we both really enjoy as a peaceful break from our everyday lives.

Last fall, as a late 3-year old, we competed in a local dressage schooling show.  Dressage is one discipline in which neither of us has had any formal training, but we hope to pursue further.  We competed in Intro A and B, just the walk-trot divisions, but did pretty well and had fun.  As the years go on, we do hope to learn more and continue to practice dressage, not only in its entirety, but also incorporating it into our other lessons.

This spring, as a 4-year-old, I broke Louie to drive with the help of a Louie drivingwonderful carriage driving trainer who was willing to make farm calls to help us prepare for and hitch, our first few times.  Ever since then, Louie has been enjoying driving a couple of times per week, with hopes of competing in some carriage driving events some day.  Louie currently drives in an open bridle because he is more comfortable being able to see me and know what is going on behind and around him than he is with blinders.  This winter we hope to transition to driving with blinders, and possibly work towards some cones courses or the like.  

This summer/fall, we competed in our first two Saddlebred shows, in the hunter division, and we have really enjoyed them Louie jumpingand done well.  After a year and a half under saddle, we are finally becoming reliable in both leads and consistent in both frame and speed, so we are now ready to prepare for a great 2011  show season.  We are currently learning to jump, and continuing all of our other adventures with a wide-open world ahead of us and no road map for where we are headed.  

Who knows where we will end up, but I’m happy to go in whichever direction the road takes us, being hunt seat, western pleasure, jumping, dressage, carriage driving, trail riding, field trialing, or maybe even saddle seat or cattle work.  Louie has brought such joy to me; he is a barn favorite with his sweet and always attention-grabbing personality and looks, easy-going attitude, willingness to do whatever is asked of him, and desire to please.  I know now for certain that I am, and always will be a Saddlebred person, as they are the most incredible breed I have had the pleasure to work with and will do absolutely anything for you, no matter what you want to do.  We never know where we may end up, but as long as we are open to options, there is a Saddlebred out there that can take us there.Louie

Read Louie’s whole story, following his daily adventures and training on his blog:

I’m the Treasure

Grandma and my National Show Horse

Falling in Love with the American Saddlebred

May of 2007 was an amazing month; it was the month I fell in love with the American Saddlebred (Saddlebred).  I had been involved with horses since I was ten.  My first horse was a National Show Horse (½ Saddlebred, ½ Arabian) gelding, but I had never owned a purebred Saddlebred.  However, that changed in May when “I’m the Treasure,” (barn name Jack) arrived.

Jack at 2 years old

Jack at 2 years old

Buying Jack was probably the craziest thing I had ever done since I bought him after only looking at a video and pictures; never seeing him in person.  When you see a horse as striking as Jack, you just know you have to buy him.  Even through the video I could tell he had such a presence about him.  Still, it was quite the leap of faith since Jack lived in Washington State; and his new home was Chicago.

When I bought Jack he had barely turned two years old, and he was still an “entire man.”  His former owner and I were debating on whether to snip him or not.  I had never owned a stallion and knew next to nothing about promoting a stallion.  I could only imagine how difficult it would be to get the word out and find breeders willing to take a chance on a young, unproven stud.  However, Jack was so regal, so beautiful, I thought, “Maybe I can dabble into this new area of owning a horse.”

Being a horse enthusiast, I had been around stallions often; the infamous stallion around the barn was a non-Saddlebred and, well, you were careful around this guy.  I had heard stories of a stallion that would bite his grooms and clamp down so hard he was able to throw them into a wall.  One time, I was riding my trainer’s stallion and all of a sudden the stud just decided he was not going to work anymore.  Instead, he decided to bolt and there was absolutely nothing I could do to get him to stop.  Eventually, he got tired, but it was pretty scary knowing that you had no control over the animal you were riding.  Of course these experiences were non-saddlebreds, but I thought “a stallion is a stallion.”

Due to my past experiences with stallions, I was excited but cautious with Jack. I wanted to make sure that when Jack arrived at the barn, I was there to bring him to his stall.  I didn’t want someone to get hurt before I was able to teach Jack manners.  When Jack stepped off the trailer, my first thought was “He is extraordinary!”  Words could not describe how striking he looked.  He was 15.3 hands and still growing.  He was a black bay pinto with remarkable markings; 4 white stockings, a splash of white on his back, with the rest of him a deep chocolate color.  He was breathtaking and he knew it.  Once Jack stepped off the trailer ramp and reached the gravel parking lot, he surveyed his new home with his head held high and called to all the new females. I’m sure he said “Ladies, I have arrived.”

I put Jack into his stall; his new home was surrounded by nice old geldings.  These old gents wouldn’t care if a hormone raged two year old was into the ladies or not.  My hope was the geldings’ calmness would rub off on Jack, although I knew this was a long shot.  I was lucky enough to find a stall that is not only surrounded by geldings, but also was conveniently placed within ear shot of my trainer.  I was worried Jack would act up and this way my trainer could keep an eye on him as much as possible.

After Jack was settled in his stall, I went to the local tack store and bought a stallion lead rope; the lead rope that has a chain on the end of it.  I knew stallion lead ropes can injure horses when used improperly.  I had seen pictures of horses with scars on their noses because of people using the chain lead rope improperly.  However, I was desperate. I didn’t want to use the stallion lead rope, but every horse person always hears of the groom or owner who gets hurt, or dies from injury by the stallion.  I had seen a non-Saddlebred who had been gelded late in life literally lay down while being ridden because he didn’t want to work.  I did not want that to happen to my horse.  I knew the early years for Jack would be the most impressionable; I wanted him to learn that humans were in charge.

I went back to the stables, put the halter on, put the chain over his nose, and took him for a walk outside.  By walk, I should really clarify things.  He was not walking; it was a mixture between a walk and a trot, sort of a prance.  He was snorting, calling to the ladies. He was excited!  “Oh boy,” I thought, “I have my work cut out for me!” Despite how many times I said “Whooooaaaa,” I couldn’t get him to flat foot walk.  Eventually, we made it across the gravel driveway to the grass.

To my surprise, he hardly even noticed he was surrounded by thick, green grass.  I tried to get him to graze, but food was the last thing on his mind.  He wanted to see the ladies.  We stayed outside for about 20 minutes.  I had hoped that after he called to the ladies, and they called back, he would settle down, and enjoy the special treat I was giving him.  Afterall, I could only take him out to graze if I knew a mare was not going to be close by.  I could envision a horror story happening if a mare was turned out in the nearby pasture, or being ridden in the outdoor arena.

However, he did not settle down.  Eventually I put him back in his stall and put up a sign: “WARNING! STALLION! DO NOT PUT MARES NEXT TO THIS STALL!” I created a 2nd sign that said: “NO TREATS! I BITE.”  I didn’t know if Jack was a biter, but I did not want to get a phone call from an irate parent saying, “Your horse bit my daughter!” Better to be safe than sorry.

Then, I put Jack’s “New to him” sheet on since the nights were getting chilly.  There was no use getting a two year old a brand new sheet when, he will most-likely rip it to shreds.  After Jack was all tucked in, I left the stables and went home.  It was a long day, and I was looking forward to some relaxation.

At home, I got a phone call from my grandparents.  Up until about a year ago, my grandparents had gone to almost all of my competitions.  Papa and Grandma love horses and loved my National Show Horse.  The only reason they stopped coming to competitions was because Grandma had a stroke.  Grandma had been paralyzed on her entire left side, and had been in Physical Therapy just to be able to wiggle her fingers.  At that time she could move her leg, but could not walk and was in a wheel chair.  Unfortunately, when I was younger I didn’t appreciate their efforts.  It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized how lucky I was to have such a strong support system.  My grandparents would greet me after a class with a hug, a big smile, and congratulations, regardless if I got 1st place, or “the gate.”  Towards the end, they even started to notice why I placed the way I placed; I was so proud of them.

Grandma and my National Show Horse

Grandma and my National Show Horse

So, being late, Grandma said, “Hello, I want to see your new horse tomorrow.” I panicked; I tried to talk Grandma out of it, I said “Jack just arrived, why don’t you see him in a few weeks?” I was hoping that after a few weeks, I would be able to train him enough to be calm for Grandma.  Grandma said, “No, I am seeing him tomorrow regardless if you are there or not” and then hung up the phone.

That night, I didn’t sleep; all I could picture was my two year old stallion rearing up and crushing my grandma in her wheelchair.  Fortunately, while I was tossing and turning I came up with a plan to try and convince my grandparents to see Jack in his stall; I figured it would be safest that way.  At 7 AM, I rolled out of bed, ate breakfast, and went to the barn; Grandma and Papa were supposed to arrive at 9.  I should have known though, Papa and Grandma are always early.  So when I arrived at 8:15, they were already there, getting Grandma out of the car.  I gave my grandparents a hug hello, and proceeded to try to encourage them into seeing Jack inside the barn.  Unfortunately, Grandma didn’t like this idea.  Grandma promptly said, “I don’t want to see him through bars.  Bring him outside.”  I reluctantly asked my grandparents to wait in the gravel parking lot, and went to Jack’s stall.

I went to Jack’s stall and immediately noticed Jack’s sheet was contorted on his body.  In the middle of the night, he must have decided he didn’t want to wear it anymore, despite the 45 degree nights we were having.  After looking at Jack’s hand me down sheet, I did not see any new tears.  “Yay!” I thought, “This sheet may last him a few weeks.”  I brushed Jack up a little bit, smoothed his mane and forelock, and got the shavings out of his tail.  I pled with Jack “Please be a good boy. Grandma is fragile, please do not hurt her.”

I put the chain over Jack’s nose; now thrilled that I had the chain.  Immediately upon leaving his stall, Jack started prancing and calling to the ladies.  I was nervous.  We got to the parking lot and, suddenly, he stopped. Grandma was still about 100 feet away, but he just looked at her.  He stared at her for at least 30 seconds.  I was bracing for him to spook at her wheel chair but instead, he lowered his head, and continued to follow.  He walked slowly, carefully.

I had no idea what had happened!  My stallion turned into this gentle gelding.  I stopped Jack about five feet away, only to hear my Grandma say, “Bring him closer.” I brought him a couple feet closer, Grandma said, “Stephanie…..”, so I relented.  He was so close that if he reared, he would have crushed Grandma; I held my breath.  But he didn’t do anything.  He lowered his head even more so Grandma could pet him.  He nickered at her.  I was amazed at his transformation.  He didn’t look for treats or try to bite her.  I looked at Jack and said to myself, “It’s almost as if he knows!”

Just as soon as I thought that, I heard ambulance sirens in the distance.  I told Grandma it was time to leave and she said, “Not yet.” I choked up on the lead rope and prayed the ambulance would remember to turn off the sirens as they got close to the barn, like they were supposed to.  Well, of course, they forgot.  But, I looked at Jack and he didn’t move a muscle!  He just stood there, with his head in Grandma’s lap, not moving.  It was then that I though to myself, “It’s not almost as if he knows, he does know.  He knows that Grandma is fragile and he needs to mind his manners.”

We stood there with his head in Grandma’s lap for 30 minutes.  We just talked and pet Jack; Jack just stood there.  He didn’t even swat at the flies.  Then Grandma and Papa said they had to leave so I brought Jack back to his stall.

On the way back to his stall, he started prancing and calling to the ladies.  It was at that moment I fell in love with the American Saddlebred.

Author – Stephanie Murphy

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William Pendleton Grey

Grey Canter

My Grandmother’s first horse was a tall grey Saddlebred named Star.  She knew precious little about horses, probably just enough to really get hurt, but Star took care of her. He was the horse my mother grew up on, the kind that sticks with you for a lifetime.  The kind you use as a standard to measure all others against.  My whole life my family played at finding another tall grey Saddlebred that reminded them of Star.  But how do you duplicate perfection?  Their search went on unsuccessfully for decades.

My mother, grandmother, sister and I had a tradition of going to Tattersalls sale in Lexington to buy horses.  We’d gotten some good ones, great ones, and flat out rotten ones.  But we always had an adventure.  As my grandmother aged, my mother rallied my sister and I for one last buying trip as a family.  She was looking for a broodmare in foal.  Instead, we came home with the Grey Horse.  I had noted him in the sale catalog, being from some top bloodlines that I really admire.  But we weren’t there to buy a two year old green broke gelding so I did not inspect him and tried to forget about it.  As fate would have it, we went to sit and watch another horse be sold, and we were there when “William” came through, trying his best and looking so cheerful and bright.  The bidding was stalling out in our price range so I looked at my Mom and said “I’ve watched you shop for grey Saddlebreds my whole life, and I’m putting an end to it right now.”  A few minutes later, he was ours. Grey Canter

I had been out of the horse hobby for a few years, but my impulse purchase drew me back in.  I couldn’t just spend my mother’s money and then leave her with a half broke colt on her hands.  My plan initially was to gait him, show him locally and make him safe to hack around the farm.  And although he had quite a bit of motion and would have made a nice saddle seat horse, he was so much happier with a plain snaffle and working in a lower frame.  I began preparing him to show hunt seat instead.

After two years, he was ready to go to a horse show.  The county next to ours has a lovely fair and all breed horse show.  It’s one of our favorite family outings and my sister and I have shown there many, many times in every division for Five Gaited to Western Pleasure.  My grandmother was now in failing health, but she came to the show and sat under a shade tree all weekend long to watch for one last time.  Our first class was a little exciting, as it often is with a youngster basically off the farm for the first time in his life dropped into the sights and sounds of a county fair.  He didn’t do anything wrong, but still we placed third out of three.  But, the next day I spent more time preparing him, and we were rewarded for our efforts with the blue ribbon in a larger class.

We haven’t been back to the show ring since, it just isn’t the same without Grandma on the rail, but we still enjoy William on a daily basis.  My mother treats him as a bit of a pet, showing off his tricks to visitors.  And I enjoy riding through the fields several times a week.  I can’t imagine a more beautiful mount for traveling the scenic countryside.   We still school basic dressage in the arena, keeping his manners and fitness level show ready and he has developed into a lovely riding horse.  He has an interesting personality and is very photogenic, making him an excellent subject for his own Blog.  The Grey Horse He is a “horse of a lifetime”.  Recently, my mother’s cousin was in from out of town.  She called my Mother and said “I drove past your farm, and I thought I saw Star in the pasture.”

ASAC Youth Summer Fun Show – August 13-14

The ASAC Youth are producing a horse show in August.  Besides promoting the Saddlebred, they want to encourage good sportsmanship and competition among junior exhibitors.

Click here for Prize List —–> ASAC Youth Summer Fun Show

Midwest Charity Horse Show Adds Hackney Horse Classes for 2010

The award winning Midwest Charity Horse Show has taken advantage of the long snowy winter to add several new classes to this year’s show. Midwest’s board of directors added a Hackney Horse division, classes include a Single Horse Open, an Amateur Single Horse, Champion Single Horse and Open Pairs Driving. Pink will be the color of the evening on Friday in honor of Midwest’s new Pink Ribbon Class, Five Gaited Ladies Amateur Championship. Changes to existing classes include expanding Arabian Hunter Pleasure to two classes.

The Midwest Charity Horse Show held June 15-19, 2010, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, a premier Saddlebred, Roadster, Morgan and Arabian horse and Hackney/Harness pony show features over 600 horses with exhibitors attending from 25 states. Midwest Charity is the largest annual show regularly held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and has been recognized as the “National Honor Show” of the year by the United Professional Horsemen’s Association for the 2009 show. Show times are daily at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Midwest’s distinguished panel of judges this year includes Sandra Lilly, Princeton, WV; Merrill Murray, Versailles, KY; and John Whalen, Monroe, NC. Mr. Whalen will also officiate the Morgans and Jill Mohr, Cherry Valley, IL will officiate the Arabians. Midwest’s Official Photographer is Doug Shiflet; Official Videographer is Seehorse Video of Arcadia, IN.

Midwest Charity will delight and entertain exhibitors with their legendary nightly parties. Tuesday-Friday nights, after the last class in the famous “Party Barn” decorated with Persian rugs, chandeliers, colorful tablecloths and flowers. Tuesday’s party will feature Susan Kerr’s famous homemade chicken salad and Honey Baked Ham. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s parties will be catered by Springfield’s own Poe’s Catering. The parties culminate with Friday’s Italian party.

For more information about the Midwest Charity Horse Show, call Show Manager/President, Judy Kjellander at 217-793-0670. To get a prize list contact Margaret Strano at 217-787-6745 or Those who are online can log-on to to check for updates regarding the 2010 show.

Clem Lee’s Training Series – Tip #3

In “Preparation for Training to Ride”, Clem shows us some of the results of earlier training in “ground maneuvers”, then goes on to prepare the filly to be trained for riding. An elevated platform provides a way to put temporary loads of a leg or sitting on the filly’s back. Clem also uses the elevated platform to expose the horse to noise and motion coming from above eye level, as will be the case later in the show ring.

Clem is the trainer at Sunset Farms Saddlebreds.