Lightning Struck Blue aka Red ridden by trainer Stephanie Bennett. (Erica Hill's Photography)

Celebrating the American Saddlebred!!  This month on YourDressage, we are celebrating the graceful American Saddlebred and Saddlebred crosses of all kinds.

Dressage riders who choose Saddlebreds as their mounts are eligible for Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as the American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association is a Participating Organization.

Red and trainer Stephanie Bennett. Photo by Meg McGuire Photography.

We recently asked our social media followers to share about what makes these horses so special.  Here, an adult amateur from Region 3 shares about her 21-year-old Saddlebred, who took up dressage later in life and is thriving!

By Ann Yessman

I have had Lightning Struck Blue, aka Red, for 14 years now. He is a 21-year-old gelding. My love for Saddlebreds started years ago when I took a few lessons on them. As life took me away from horses, and I raised a family, I never lost my love for them. I was lucky enough to be able to buy Red when I was 50 years old.

I really was starting out green and was hoping to ride saddleseat again. Little did I know that the area I lived in, no one was involved in that discipline. So I decided to learn dressage. When I started, everyone kept telling me that the horse I had was not a dressage horse. I still tried though. We had hit-and-miss lessons, and kind of had to learn together. I did a lot of ground work with him – natural horsemanship, parelli, and Clinton Anderson type stuff. I resigned myself to having a good horse I could tool around on and never show. 

Eleven years into my journey with Red, we had a devastating hurricane, and I had to move him from where I was boarding. I thought many times of selling him because I was getting frustrated with not being able to get lessons, and just not having the motivation. I found this wonderful barn, Little Star Stables, in Graceville, FL, owned by Christian Musch and his wife Stephanie Bennett. It’s an hour and a half drive for me to go out and see Red, but they are able to ride him several times a week and I have been able to go take lessons a few times a week. Stephanie loves my quirky guy and really started to turn him into quite a little star. I gave her free rein to show him and see just what this old 21-year-old Saddlebred could do.

This is the first year he has ever been to a USDF-recognized show. He has now done three, and has always placed in the ribbons. The last show at WEC they brought home a first, two thirds, and a fourth place ribbon – all at Second Level.

The comments I ALWAYS get about Red are what a sweetheart he is. He is the star of the barn. Everyone knows him. He is very social with people. The people that handle him tell me what wonderful manners he has, too.  

I’m so glad I never sold him. I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

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