This blog's mission is to share stories, fun facts, and general interest about American Saddlebreds that may not necessarily be "news," or items that would typically be featured in the magazine. If you have any blog ideas, please share them with us by emailing Michelle Krentz at email@example.com. All submissions will be reviewed for approval by ASHA. Each time we have a new post, we will "share" this page on Facebook and tweet the link via Twitter, to keep you updated. Enjoy!
2012 Saddle Seat World Cup Try Outs
Posted on April 13, 2012
The following blog post was written and submitted by current Saddle Seat World Cup Three-Gaited Team Member, Nick Maupin.
Tucker Hall, on the sprawling, red brick campus of William Woods University, greeted the World Cup hopefuls last Friday night. There, Lori Nelson, the USEF Assistant Executive Director of National Affiliates, went over the many changes to occur during trials due to the new USEF involvement in the constantly evolving World Cup program. We then moved onto the draw for horses. Each rider drew two horses for each division, on which they would perform both rail work and a pattern. The horses were strategically picked by the William Woods students and faculty to best suit their abilities to pattern A or B. After the draw, the riders were given the opportunity to go back to the barn to meet the horses, talk to their grooms, and walk the patterns. Everyone was moving fast in order to get a good night’s rest before trials began at 8 a.m.
Posted on March 22, 2012
WE ARE ON A ROLL AT THE ASHA!
I am honored to serve as President of our Association, with such an enthusiastic, engaged and diverse board of directors, and dedicated and talented staff.
Saddlebreds are my lifelong passion; I am thrilled to have an opportunity to give back to the breed and industry that means so much to me. I have been an owner, exhibitor and breeder of American Saddlebreds my entire life. I grew up on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and got my first pony at age 7. One summer when I was 9 or 10 years old, I showed in an English Pleasure class at a small 4-H horse show and the winner of my class was Candy Mountjoy riding an old Saddlebred broodmare. I was upset about not winning the class and whined about it to my father afterwards, who replied, “that mare that won the class is a SHOW HORSE. There is no way you can ever beat a SHOW HORSE riding that little spotted pony of yours. American Saddlebreds are born and bred to be SHOW HORSES!”. Little did my father know that Saddlebreds would end up being my lifelong passion. I’m with Biggins Stables in Simpsonville, where I ride at least twice a week, and when I am riding, I don’t think about anything else!
I want to involve and embrace our membership in our association; we board members truly want and need our members’ ideas, energy, and involvement. We’re establishing new Committees including a Young Persons Committee and an Audit Committee, and we are activating and expanding several of our existing Committees including our Marketing Committee and our Planning Committee, which will address policies and procedures, suggested revision of our Bylaws and Document Retention Policy, and a strategic/business plan. We want to develop partnerships with other organizations such as the UPHA and the Saddlebred Museum, as well as equine programs at area colleges and high schools, and work with the All American Cup on the new Sport Horse program. Our number one priority for the coming year is the funding and implementation of computer and technology upgrades which will enable us to redesign our Web site and incorporate many ‘user-friendly’ features.
Please let us hear from you!
Sharp Cheddar's Journey Part 2: Slow and Low
Posted on March 14, 2012
Our little Sharp Cheddar (aka “Queso”) seems to be enjoying her first winter in Texas and continues to progress in her new life as a jumper. She definitely likes to jump and has learned the basics very quickly. We have spent the last few months focusing on her flatwork and teaching her to relax and travel in a collected frame. Again, she is proving to be a quick study and approaches every new challenge with a willing attitude.
Queso’s gaits are naturally very quick, but with consistent work from our trainer, she has figured out how to slow down, relax and round through her back. Now that she understands how to collect and carry herself, she is extremely responsive and light in the bridle. I can essentially ride her with just my pinky finger and a touch of calf pressure now!
Her intelligence and willingness also continue to work in her favor. She is developing at a fast rate and is figuring a lot out on her own. When I do jump her, she is already measuring distances and adjusting her stride accordingly. Not bad for a four-year-old!
We are being careful not to rush Queso and want to maintain her happy, willing attitude. Our next step, now that she is more relaxed in her gaits, is to begin teaching her automatic lead changes. We will keep jumping her a little bit every week so she remains consistent, and at the same time will continue to focus on a solid foundation of flatwork.
Her fan club in the barn continues to grow, and she is getting very confident—maybe even a little cocky at times—with all of the praise she receives. But she deserves it—we are so proud of her and are having a great time watching her progress.
To view a video of Queso doing some flatwork and a few jumps, go here.
Sharp Cheddar's blog is contributed by her owner and breeder, Rose Hochner and posted and approved by ASHA.
2012 ASHA Annual Youth Convention
Posted on March 7, 2012
Friday, February 17th was the beginning of our annual ASHA Youth Conference. Registration opened at 4pm and there were kids lined around the room! We started the night off with two roundtables and pizza dinner. The first round table was presented by Kathleen Donovan from Best Shot Pet Products. She spoke to the group on horse grooming and gave everyone samples of their products. The second session was presented by Amy Lawyer from the University of Kentucky 4-H to speak to the youth and leaders about 4-H programs. Then off for our Friday night activity which was lots of fun plus educational-we loaded the shuttle bus and cars and headed to the Kentucky Horse Park where we had the International Museum of the Horse all to ourselves! We toured the museum and also got to see the nationally acclaimed exhibit, “The Horse”. Once back at the hotel, many groups went swimming or caught up with old friends.
7:45 Saturday morning, the day begins but with an exciting day ahead and lots of horses to see, who cares how early it is!! We started with a continental breakfast and loaded the four charter buses at 8:15 for the first stops of either Claiborne Farm or Hillcroft. Misdee Wrigley Miller and Nancy McConnell met us as we pulled up and everyone was so excited to be there! We gathered in the lounge with snacks and cider they had prepared for us as Misdee talked about the history of the barn and her riding career. She pointed out her first ribbon and one of the first pictures of her driving. We then were free to tour the barn; there were only a couple of horses in the barn, as most of them were in Florida. Ellie Kangur was a very happy little girl getting to meet Misdee and have her picture made with her. Ellie had written her a letter sometime back and Misdee answered it, so it was a dream come true on the field trip! We toured the tack room which was huge and awesome and then onto the carriage barn. Misdee talked to us about each carriage, and how one of them after many years, the owner called and asked if she would like to have it, it was the carriage they had at her farm when she was growing up. Each carriage had a story, and we were full of questions! She showed us the history of “tailgating” which started with carriages stopping along the way for a packed lunch on many travels, as well as polo matches and other sporting events.
Back on the bus toward Claiborne. As we turned in the driveway, another ooh-ahh moment! Our grooms gave us the history of Claiborne and how it is still owned by the Hancock family. He also told us that every day, Mr. Hancock drives through the farm, calling each horse by name and sire. We were shown the ten stall barn and the number one stall held great horses as Secretariat, Unbridled, Bold Ruler, and Edgington. We were then excited to see two horses. The first horse was Arch, who was purchased for $710,000. Then we waited while they brought “Blame” in to see us. The name came from a quote, “If you are liable for something, you gotta take the blame”. Blame was 16.1 hands and weighed 1,365 pounds. He was the 2010 Champion winning the Stephen Foster, Whitney and Breeders Cup Classic. All the youth were able to pet him and have pictures made. We then walked up to the cemetery where 20 are buried. Of the 20, 5 of them were whole body burials, including Secretariat, Swale, and Mr. Prospect. The rest were buried traditionally, which is head, hooves, and heart. We were told that Secretariat was also embalmed just as humans are.
Our Youth Awards and Academy Awards Luncheon was just down the road at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park in Carlisle. The buffet was huge and full of Kentucky favorites. After lunch, we started our presentation with the Academy Awards. Many showed up to receive their bronze, silver or gold medals as well as the Master Academy Medals. This was the first year to receive them at lunch, as we had to rearrange the schedule to include the thoroughbred barn. We then gave out the Youth Club Awards. Once again, Biggins Bridle Bunch from Simpsonville, Kentucky was the winner of Youth Club of the Year. There were many deserving this year and some of the categories were awarded twice so that smaller clubs would have an equal chance. The History Award and Meetings and Programs went to High Caliber Hot Shots in North Carolina. DeEquus Stablemates from Wisconsin also won the History Award. The award for Educational Activities went to the Bridleway Barn Stomers, from Arizona and also to Lovell’s Little Bits from North Carolina. The Community Service Award also went to Bridleway Barn Stormers as well as Vantage Point Stirrup Squad from Texas. Once again this year, the award for Fundraising went to Lovell’s Little Bits. Receiving the award for Promotions was Club Landmark from Illinois and Tall Tails Youth Club from Michigan. Also recognized at the Awards Luncheon was Drew Taylor Hewitt, our Frank Ogletree Youth Award Winner.
We then all traveled together to Cornerstone Farm. As we turned in the driveway, we were greeted by beautiful horses running along the fence to see who was coming! Fred Sarver met us as we pulled into the driveway, after some drama, due to the buses taking the wrong turn and having to back up the road to the farm! He gave us a tour of his new barn and lab and answered many questions from us. He then brought out two “old timers” for us to see. He said he really wanted us to be able to see them because who knows how long they will be around. The first was Harlem Town and then I’m A New Yorker. The youth loved seeing them and had lots of questions about them. We were then able to look more around the farm and barn. It was a beautiful day; horses were playing in the field, youth giggling, and clubs bonding…another great conference!
2012 ASHA Annual Convention
Posted on February 23, 2012
This year’s ASHA Convention and Youth Conference was a huge success! The theme for the convention: Saddlebreds for All Ages, couldn’t have been more appropriate, as small children and adults into their 80s converged on the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa in Lexington, Kentucky to gain knowledge about and celebrate the American Saddlebred breed and industry.
On Thursday and Friday morning various committees met with the public to discuss their current endeavors and plans for the future. The committee members welcomed questions from the enthusiastic crowd, and discussed ways to promote the breed and plan for expanded and improved programs.
New this year were the Round Table discussions that took place on Friday afternoon and Saturday Morning. The topics included registration, ASHA prize money programs, marketing with technology, starting and sustaining riding programs, bits, marketing Saddlebreds to the Sport Horse Community, and smart breeding. Round Table attendees were able to rotate through each discussion and ask the industry experts questions after their presentations. The feedback for these discussions was incredibly positive and we look forward to having the Round Tables again next year. If you have any ideas of what topics you’d be interested in for next year, please let us know!
Other events during the convention included the ASHA Awards Luncheon, the ASHA Annual Meeting, the Charter Club Workshop about horse shows, and more. The most anticipated events however were definitely the “Legends of Saturday Night” Luncheon and the Saddlebred Gala.
On Saturday afternoon, 15 past Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion trainers graced a sold-out crowd with their presence and wonderful stories. Each trainer discussed their winning horses, as well as some that came very close to taking home the roses. The trainers’ heartfelt stories had the attendees laughing and crying. It was an event that will not soon be forgotten. Following questions from host, Bob Funkhouser, the legends took questions from the crowd before they headed to the hall to autograph posters featuring their famous mounts.
That evening everyone was dressed to the nines to attend the annual Saddlebred Gala. Before everyone headed to the ballroom, they were treated to a wine tasting and an opportunity to bid on some grand items in the silent auction, which benefits youth scholarships. Once in the ballroom, a live auction kicked off the event followed by our best Saddlebred ambassadors from across the globe being honored with awards, while The Sensations entertained everyone with their great music.
We are looking forward to next year’s convention and another installment of the “Legends of Saturday Night,” with a spotlight on the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Champion trainers. Stay tuned for our next blog post about the ASHA Youth Conference.
Saddle Seat Invitational, South Africa, 2011
Posted on December 21, 2011
The Five-Gaited Team After Being Announced as the Gold Medalists!
The following blog post was written by Murphy McSemek, a member of this year’s Five-Gaited United States Saddle Seat Invitational Gold Medal team. Murphy is a business marketing and Equestrian Science major at William Woods University. The United States Saddle Seat Invitational Team departed for Parys, South Africa on November 30 and arrived home with their gold medals on December 12. The Three-Gaited team consisted of Emily Chapman, Caitlin Donohue, Alexandra Lawson, Abby Mutrux, Kristen Smith, and Alyssa Wick. They were coached by Brooke Jacobs. The Five-Gaited team members included Morgan Brison, Drew Taylor Hewitt, Murphy McSemek, Megan McClure, Alexis Pearson, and Rachel Rafloski. They were coached by Bob Brison. The managers of both teams were Brent and Jane Jacobs. ASHA is proud of their accomplishment and their passion to the American Saddlebred that took them all the way to South Africa.
I had the pleasure of being part of the USA invitational team that travelled over to South Africa this December. It was a trip of a lifetime and such an amazing experience for all those that went. Thank you so much to the all the managers, coaches, team members, parents, and supporters that made the trip the huge success that it was.
The first leg of the trip definitely was the insanely long plane ride, totaling out about 15.5 hours from Atlanta to Johannesburg. After finally landing we travelled to our first hotel where we stayed one night. Here we all got our first taste of the beautiful African countryside, the warm hospitality, and the great weather! The group split in two the following day and some got massages at the spa while the others, myself included, went zip lining. It was such a neat and slightly nerve wracking experience to be zipping through a large and very deep gorge in Africa!
Team USA Looking Down Over the Gorge Before Zip Lining.
We then moved on to the Tau Game Lodge where we stayed in absolutely gorgeous rooms overlooking a watering hole on a 220,000 acre reserve! We had three days for lots of game drives where we saw absolutely incredible views and animals that we usually only get to see pictures of. We were able to spend three days in this tropical paradise and make great memories with great people and great animals. One of the most thrilling memories from Tau was when all the groups were stopped out during a game drive for drinks and snacks and a large herd of about 20 elephant came right up to us! It was unreal to be so close to such powerful, beautiful, and wild creatures. We were all very sad to leave Tau but after a few days of relaxation everyone was ready to ride and represent our country.
Over the Gorge Before Zip Lining. Team USA's Close Encounter with an Elephant During a Game Drive.
We then moved on to Parys, the location of the show, and got settling in to our new home for a week. For two days both the three-gaited and the five-gaited teams went to the show and were able to watch horses work, meet the South African horse community, and we then got to practice on the first horse we were going to show. The following day we rode the second horse in order to get a feel for them and make any necessary adjustments. It was so nice to hear all the support from the other US team as we racked and trotted by. All members rode so hard and impressed everyone at the show. Next was the start of the actual show, which began with the opening ceremony. Hearing the national anthem playing in the background while waving an American flag, lit a fire in all of us and had us all ready to ride our hardest. For two days, the American riders rode hard, navigated the ring, and showed off our horses to the best of our ability, all to the tremendous sound of the US supporters and parents. Tension was very high the last night of the show while we waited for the results for both teams. We all screamed in excitement when we heard that not only did one team win, but both the US teams won gold medals, something that has not happened for quite a few years! A big celebration occurred later that evening both in the reserved boxes for US team members and supporters and then continued on at the hotel until very late in the evening. We were much honored to even have some of the members of the South African team join us.
Team USA posing at the cheetah farm and rehabilitation center where they pet cheetahs.
We ran into a little bit of trouble trying to get home, with lots of delays, missed connecting flights, and even a cancelled flight. After an extra night in Johannesburg, a night in Atlanta, and 17.5 hours on a plane, we finally made it home! It was such a great experience for all that went, and a special thanks to all the coaches, team members, parents, and supporters for making the trip a trip of a life time!
Sharp Cheddar’s Journey Part 1: From Beer Cheese to Queso
Posted on December 9, 2011
Foaled in 2008 in Kentucky, Sharp Cheddar is by Castle Bravo and out of a CHGreat Day’s Came the Son mare named Whatsername, that my mother and I owned together. As a foal, Sharp Cheddar had serious health issues and almost had to be put down twice when she was just a yearling. Thankfully, she received amazing care at the breeding farm and beat the odds by not only surviving, but growing into a healthy though fairly small horse.
Sharp Cheddar's sire, Castle Bravo (Avis photo)
Because of her health problems and small size, we waited until this spring to start her in training. At that time, she moved a few miles down the road to a show barn in Versailles. Though the trainers did a wonderful job starting her, we all knew pretty quickly that Sharp Cheddar was not going to be successful in the show ring. But we also knew she was kind, eager to please and really liked being around people. And just because she wasn’t going to be the next CHSky Watch, Mom and I still wanted to give her a chance to learn a new job.
I thought it might be worthwhile to give Sharp Cheddar some training as a hunter jumper. She prefers to carry her head “long and low” like a hunter, and has a well-balanced conformation and natural athletic ability. Most importantly, she has a desire to work and please her rider, and I thought she might enjoy the challenge of learning to jump.
So in September we brought her home to Houston and put her in training at a local hunter jumper barn where we have other horses in training. I knew this move would give Sharp Cheddar a solid foundation as a jumper, and we would quickly learn about her willingness and aptitude in the new sport.
And that is where we are today. Sharp Cheddar is learning the ropes of her new discipline and seems to be really enjoying herself. So far she is right where she should be and is keeping up with the other three-year-olds in the barn. She gets training rides from a professional during the week and I ride her on the weekends. It is so fun to watch her progress—she started by trotting over poles on the ground, then moved on to trotting over fences and after just a few short months she is already cantering around small courses.
She is sweet and personable, and has developed quite a fan club in her new barn. And her barn name has also changed with her location—in Kentucky she was known as Beer Cheese, but here in Texas she is Queso.
We are so proud of her, and so happy to have the opportunity to showcase the American Saddlebred outside of their traditional discipline. Their intelligence, athleticism and kind disposition really does make them suited for more than just the showring. And just because our little Queso will never hit the green shavings doesn’t mean that she won’t be a happy and useful horse who is a star in her own right.
To view a video of Sharp Cheddar going through one of her first jumping courses, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TilC8i1C1V4
Sharp Cheddar's blog is contributed by her owner and breeder, Rose Hochner and posted and approved by ASHA.