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 American 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, 2019 USDF Youth Volunteer of the Year Ruby Tevis shares just a few of the reasons you should consider a Saddlebred as your next dressage partner!
By Ruby Tevis
American Saddlebreds and dressage – two words not traditionally used in the same sentence, but rightfully paired for a multitude of reasons. For now, we’ll break it down to five!
American Saddlebreds are versatile horses! Saddleseat is only one facet of what a Saddlebred can do. It is also important to remember that not all Saddlebreds are 5-gaited! Saddlebreds can be successful in any sport – endurance, ranch work, driving, show jumping, and dressage – and some horses have found success in multiple arenas. The American Saddlebred is no stranger to the FEI ring and have proven to be successful competitors from Training Level all the way to Grand Prix!
American Saddlebreds are sensible horses. There is a misconception that all Saddlebreds have hot personalities, but in truth, they are very level-headed and will keep their rider safe. The saddleseat industry, much like dressage, is driven by amateur and junior riders – naturally, the Saddlebred proves to be a perfect partner for the amateur rider. They’re careful, honest, and love to please their partners!
If you take a moment to dive into history, you’ll find the American Saddlebred was a top choice for soldiers during the Civil War. Why? They’re comfortable for long trips! Not only do Saddlebreds have excellent stamina, but their gaits are smooth, with floating trots and rocking horse canters. Bred for an upright shoulder, the conformation of a Saddlebred enables them to be light on the forehand and supple in the bridle. Many Saddlebreds are built on a more narrow frame, allowing the rider to comfortably wrap their legs around their horse – and this narrow build often makes lateral work a breeze. Riding a Saddlebred is like driving a sports car!
American Saddlebreds are an untapped treasure in the dressage world, but they’re becoming more popular! With their amateur friendly traits and ease of rideability, the Saddlebred horse is gaining momentum among diehard Warmblood and Thoroughbred fans. American Saddlebred breeders and trainers are beginning to recognize this, and there are some programs in place to facilitate the direct placement of sporty Saddlebreds into sport horse homes. Unfortunately, some Saddlebreds may find themselves in rescue situations at no fault of their own, so rescue and repurpose programs can be an excellent resource for finding a Saddlebred partner – and you’re making a difference in the life of a horse!
Saddlebreds are goofy! They have huge personalities and are total hams in the barn. If you love an in-your-pocket personality then you’ll surely fall in love with the American Saddlebred. They’re loving and empathetic, and will come trotting up when they hear your voice (or the crinkle of a peppermint wrapper!) Open your mind and open your heart – and invite an American Saddlebred to change your world!