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Saddlebreds Go the Distance to Take Home 2018 Endurance Awards

Published Date: Mar 08, 2019


Two pure-bred American Saddlebred horses were recently named Breed Champions for Endurance Distance and Limited Distance horses for 2018 by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC).  Receiving awards sponsored by the American Saddlebred Versatility Association (VERSA), were Ace’s Night Hawk, owned and ridden by Jolanda Slik, of Ontario, Canada, for the Endurance Distance award, and If You Dare, owned and ridden by Michelle “Dalles” Phillips of Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Limited Distance award.

Slik and “Ace” have been together since 2007 and have competed in endurance rides since 2010.  Among their many completions, they have four 100-mile rides to their credit, three of which were done in 2018.  In one of those rides, they not only finished in first place but also won the coveted “Best Condition” award.  Slik, who was a Standardbred trainer and driver in her home country of the Netherlands before emigrating to Canada, has great love and respect for her three American Saddlebreds, which are always kind and willing partners for herself and her children.  Slik’s goals for 2019 include finishing the “triple crown” of endurance—the “Beast of the East” (Old Dominion); the Vermont 100, and the Eastern Challenge.  She hopes to compete in the Distance Horse Nationals in 2019 and, for 2020, has her sights set on the Tevis Cup.

Phillips and “Darrin” have been together since early 2017 and began their endurance career later that year.  As the daughter of two trainers of American Saddlebreds, Dalles has always enjoyed the breed, and is excited to find new and different ways for each horse to shine.  Because of Dalles’ extensive involvement with American Saddlebreds, even as she and “Darrin” began competing in endurance, she connected with the founding of the breed by teaching him to rack, thus bringing to mind the “Kentucky Saddlers,” which were used to check the fields during the week and take the family to church on Sundays.  In 2018, the pair completed five endurance rides, and competed in multiple breed shows in the Five-gaited Country Pleasure division. Darrin placed in the top ten at all five competitive endurance rides and was awarded the high vet score at his final ride of the 2018 season.  Their stand-out performances have been rewarded in 2018 with the American Saddlebred Registry’s Endurance Sport Horse Award and the ASHA’s Distance Riding Award.

The American Saddlebred Horse Association is proud of these two team’s accomplishments and hope that their success will continue as they start their 2019 season! For more information on Distance Riding, the 2019 American Saddlebred Distance Horse National Championships and the other great American Saddlebred versatility and sport horse programs visit American
Saddlebred Sport Horse page.

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