By Ruby Tevis
Before 2019, Dressage at Devon had never seen an American Saddlebred compete in Materiale, until Laura Jumpp stepped in to the ring with Born to Rage, a four-year-old American Saddlebred owned by the American Saddlebred Legacy Foundation. Not only did the pair make history – they walked out with a blue ribbon.
At the age of 12, Laura caught the horse bug. During college at the University of New Hampshire, Laura had the opportunity to work with a project horse named Breeze, with whom she gained her first experience training. She was inspired by this experience, and after graduation, she took a position working for Jane Sleeper. It was here Laura found her passion for starting young horses. “You think of starting horses as a bit of a rodeo,” Laura said, “but everything seemed to go so smoothly with her method that I decided it was something I wanted to do.”
Today, Laura runs her own training business, Jumpp Equestrian, and has competed in eventing, dressage, and hunters. “I try to educate myself well in everything that my horses might want to try. I want to find the job that works best for each of them,” she said.
A few years ago, Laura became involved with the American Saddlebred Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to repurposing and rehoming American Saddlebreds. “I initially linked up with them to do riding evaluations for horses transitioning out of work as Amish buggy horses,” Laura said. “I rode so many super cool horses that I was just hooked! Some of these horses have been buggy horses for the better part of 12 years, but when I swing my leg over, they were nothing but cordial and patient.”
Through a training grant provided by The Right Horse, a horse adoption foundation, Laura was introduced to a young American Saddlebred gelding known as Born to Rage. Before Born to Rage, aka Bubbles, landed in Laura’s program, he was started in saddle seat and earned a reputation for being “mouthy” and “rank.” He’d also been spotted jumping over a horse out in the pasture.
“I spent a lot of time with him when he first came, working on ground work to overcome the first two, and trying to harness the athleticism that had him jump a horse in the field,” Laura said. “He is so smart. He came along extremely quickly, and I think he knew that I had his best interests at heart. He never showed me an ugly side under saddle, and I feel confident saying that is behind him now. He just needed a different program and a different job.”
Laura calls Bubbles a special horse for several reasons, and his personality shines through. “Bubbles is special first and foremost because of his personality. When he came here, we were calling him ‘Rage,’ but that just didn’t fit. He wants to be with you so much. We spent a lot of time working on his ‘personal bubble’ and that’s actually where he got his name! Now it suits his bubbly personality, but it’s funny to think of how he got it.”
In addition to his personality, she was stunned by his exceptional gaits and canter. After raving about Bubbles’ progress, Laura decided to enter him in a Materiale class over the summer. After receiving a qualifying score during his first time out, Laura decided he was the horse to take to Dressage at Devon.
Laura was in tears pulling up to the Devon show grounds, knowing in her mind that Bubbles was already a champion. After settling in to the show, Laura discovered how much Bubbles loves the show environment (and the attention!). “He was just so calm, cool, and collected,” she said.
In the show ring, Bubbles won the breed class and represented the American Saddlebred in the Parade of Breeds. Then, he took home third place in the Four-Year-Old and Older Geldings and Stallions Under Saddle. In the Materiale Championship, Bubbles earned his personal best score, a 74.3% from one of the judges on the panel. “You can’t ask for more out of a young horse from a lesser-known sport breed in such a big environment and on such a big stage,” Laura said.
Outside of the show ring, Bubbles got attention from several competitors and spectators. “By the end of the show a couple of people asked me if he was ‘The Saddlebred’- which was pretty awesome!” Laura said, hoping that people consider riding more American Saddlebreds for sport horse disciplines.
Laura calls Saddlebreds the “sport horse that America made,” acknowledging their importance in American history. “Back in the day you would use them to plow your field, ride into town, race on Saturday, go to church on Sunday, and be the kids first riding horse,” she said, mentioning their movement, athleticism, stamina, and personality.
“I think it’s so important to bring Saddlebreds to shows like these,” she said. “As for Saddlebreds in particular, they are so light on the forehand, trainable, rideable and maneuverable in the arena. They are really the perfect horse for the adult amateur. I think a lot of people would be very happy riding these horses and I want to show people how much fun they can be.”
For Bubbles, Laura believes the sky is the limit. Recently, he has been started over fences and has even taken trips around the cross-country course. “I’m thinking he would make a great event horse and he could still dazzle the judges with his dressage if he did that,” Laura said. “Otherwise, I see him going up the levels with a talented rider and I think the world is his oyster.”
If you would like to make a donation or find more information about the American Saddlebred Legacy Foundation and the work that they do, you can visit www.saddlebredlegacy.com. To connect with Laura Jumpp, visit her website www.jumppequestrian.com. To find out more about The Right Horse and see other available horses like Bubbles, visit www.therighthorse.org.