Celebrating American Saddlebreds!! This month on YourDressage, we are celebrating the graceful 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.
We recently asked our social media followers to share about what makes these horses so special. Here, an equestrian shares about her Saddlebred, Horus, who proves that Saddlebreds (and one-eyed horses) have plenty to offer!
By Mariah BenDavid
#2372 was my gelding’s number. He had been stripped of his name since he was tossed aside to ship away from a feedlot. He was listed as a “4-year-old Saddlebred gelding, likely blind in one eye,” and had already been through another auction two weeks before. I bought him sight unseen, off a 30-second video and two pictures, and while I have lots of experience starting young horses in eventing, and a soft spot for the problem horses – I wasn’t sure what exactly would be stepping off the trailer when he arrived. I broke every rule of horse buying that day. He came home with me, and I named him Eye of Horus, or Horus for short.
He had a “melting” corneal ulcer so severe that right after arriving home, he had to go to the clinic for the eye to be removed. He weighed only 830 pounds. For the neglect he suffered through, he was so willing to learn and trust – I suspect he was never mishandled a day in his life, but possibly just given up due to the eye injury. Within just over a year, and a lot of TLC, he’s become one of the best horses I’ve ever sat on – and I’ve been lucky to sit on many international/upper level quality youngsters! In 20 years of riding dressage to eventing, I don’t think I’ve ever smiled as much on a horse’s back as I do with him -along with him being the easiest, smartest, most motivated young horse I’ve ever started from the ground up.
By “joining” the Saddlebred sporthorse world, I’ve been able to learn from some awesome people, with an excellent mission. They have been welcoming, with open arms, a great learning resource, and are so driven to show riders just what America’s horse is capable of. These horses are charismatic, athletic, and talented – he’s always a barn favorite for kids, adults, and non-horsey visitors alike, even if he gets into frequent mischief! He’s sharp as a tack, which sometimes makes training interesting. You only have to repeat an exercise a handful of times and he’s got it – and he’s always game to learn something new, really keeping me on my toes!
Now that I’m no longer working with horses professionally, it’s also nice to have a well-rounded youngster I can trust to be the same horse day after day. He’s brave and level-headed when he needs to be, but can light up and “perform” when all eyes are on him. Having only one eye doesn’t bother him either, and we’ve started over fences – he’s even got some scope. Overall, I’m working mainly on dressage and hope to get him out next year. I really think he’ll shine in the sandbox. He’s like many Saddlebreds though, and their versatility is astounding, so we also are doing some western dressage, jumping, and even some liberty/bridles work! If you asked me two years ago if I’d wanted an American Saddlebred, I probably would’ve passed – but now, I really hope the two of us can represent the breed (and one-eyed horses too) for all that they have to offer, and I’ll be a Saddlebred fan forever.