Camaraderie, Enthusiasm, Engagement at the National Academy Championship Horse Show
Published Date: Nov 20, 2018
The American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) traveled to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the National Academy Championship Horse Show (NACHS) to share more information on the breed and to visit with the future of Saddlebred enthusiasts. Over 1,000 entries competed throughout the three days from lead line to adults. Every class was composed of primarily American Saddlebred mounts. The show had everyone from riders who were making their finals debut to riders taking their final turn on their way to the performance division.
No matter the age, division, or experience everyone shared the same great enthusiasm. They were excited to be there, for each other, and about the sport of showing horses. The energy of the stands paralleled a high school football game with the amount of cheering from the spectators. The comradery made everyone feel like a winner. The competitors took great pride in receiving any placing in a class. As the representative from the American Saddlebred Museum Lettie Goins pointed out, “From first thru eighth, if those riders won a ribbon they were so proud! The wore those ribbons on their belt the rest of the show.”
ASHA’s presence was an opportunity to engage with both businesses and riders that were at the beginning of their Saddlebred endeavors. Whether it was with the visitors at our booth or with the instructors at the barns, we gained great insight into the introduction of the American Saddlebred to new enthusiasts.
Three members of Harris Riding Academy of Murfreesboro, Tennessee stopped at the booth and shared their Saddlebred Story. Each of these families was at a different stage of involvement in the industry. The first was a family of a 10 & under rider who was in her second year of riding and competing at NACHS for the first time. The second had just purchased their first performance horse for their daughter to move out of Academy next season. Last, was an adult who after retiring from the corporate world sought a social and fitness activity for herself and her family. Each of them was looking for a professional, safe, and fun riding environment and well-mannered horses. They found that in the American Saddlebred industry.
Travis Creek Stables of Greenwood, Indiana is a new face on the Saddlebred scene, but they are making their presence known. Barn manager, trainer, and head instructor Sarah Wuensch shared that since owners Dan and Jennifer Fruits decided to open the operation not even two years ago in July of 2017. Since then they have had tremendous success. They have elevated the riding program from 13 riders to 70 in just a short time. From those 70 riders, 20 are now competing, and ten have purchased a horse. The Fruits’ progressive marketing approach and community involvement have had the business growing every day with new riders and new American Saddlebred owners. In only their second appearance at NACHS each of the five riders they brought made it to the second round of competition.
2018 National Academy Championship Horse Show, in the end, was an excellent opportunity to foster the enthusiasm for the American Saddlebred and continue to support educational efforts on the varieties of avenues the breed can take Academy riders in the future.