1) On the WEG: I think it's wonderful to show off the ASB as the peacock of the show ring, as that's what it is known for. I think it was absolutely right to have saddle seat horses there. HOWEVER, (BIG however), the breed NEEDS to get some more recognition for its versatility - and THIS was a perfect opportunity (our horses can show, jump, do dressage, drive, everything!)
Saddle seat is going to continue to be a very small discipline in the grand scheme of things. I'm also concerned if the saddlebred saddle seat division doesn't get a few more regulations (shoeing regulations, stricter drug testing procedures, strict adherence to the rulebook judging guidelines...) that it will become the next focus of those pinpointing inhumane disciplines (after the TWH big lick peeps). There are some quick and easy fixes that could be made almost immediately that would help a lot, but people making the rules within the discipline are often very resistant to change - like us all, haha.
As someone who's been in the saddle seat world and now in sport horse land, the discipline is often not well thought of outside of breed show land. There are some misconceptions that are flatly untrue, but some of the bias is completely fair, in my opinion. Not to say there aren't GREAT saddle seat saddlebred trainers out there, because there are, but there are a lot of scumbags who can't ride their way out of a paper bag that are still BNTs doing well at shows because they talk a good game and spin a good deal (a huge problem with typical "breed show" disciplines because of the intense politicking that happens as well as the need to only train a horse to W/T/C on the rail...)
Aaaaanyway, long rant, but my point: the saddlebred is SUCH a cool breed. It would be a shame for it to continue to get pigeon-holed as a saddle seat-only breed. There was a HUGE opportunity to show the versatility of the breed at the WEG. I've shown at a lot of venues where people don't know jack about horses or saddle seat - they think the ASBs are neat to look at, but they also often think they don't look like "real" horses and couldn't imagine having one. And many of the sport horse people just think it's a weird exaggerated looking breed (one of my eventing friends thinks a lot of them look like "aliens") that would be useless for anything else.
2) Quick point on the ASB drama: I think it's SUPER common in every breed show type breed. Arabs, QHs, ASBs, you name it. Anytime you have judging that is that subjective and a judging pool made up of active trainers (that are going to be showing at the next show under a "judge" they just judged...) you're going to run into corruption and politics. (You're also going to run into shoddy breeding dictated by current trends, as well as crappy trainers that can still be BNTs)
***You certainly can run into politics, bad judging, bad training, and bad breeding in the sport horse world as well, but I haven't found it to be nearly as obvious or damaging to the discipline in my more limited experience with it.
There was a HUGE opportunity to show the versatility of the breed at the WEG. I've shown at a lot of venues where people don't know jack about horses or saddle seat - they think the ASBs are neat to look at, but they also often think they don't look like "real" horses and couldn't imagine having one. And many of the sport horse people just think it's a weird exaggerated looking breed (one of my eventing friends thinks a lot of them look like "aliens") that would be useless for anything else.
I run into that alot. Currently in the barn we have a broodmare who looks just like your typical Supreme Sultan horse, a retired show horse with a lot of Commander/Stonewall breeding, and my personal horse who is the Yorktown/Attache' type. So, we have a wide range of type, but most non-ASB people are used to seeing the refined, chestnut, Sultan horses.
They know the mare is a Saddlebred, and once they get past the retired horse's bald face and blue eye they see a tall, high headed "show horse". Then they see the grey who is wide wide wide, has great muscling over his top line, and large, strong hooves, not to mention being grey and they say "OK, what breed is this one? He's quite a horse."
Well, this one is the best bred one we have. In four generations he has six world champion or reserve world champion stallions, and five hall of fame broodmares. Two of his half siblings have their CH status. This is the good stuff.
How many of these Thin Mints am I supposed to eat before I start to see results?
Their Saddlebred? Not many of those people had ASBs. The idea is to give them a horse they can use right now today so that the hundreds and thousands of ASBs who can't win at Louisville have a job.
ASHA was responsible for putting together all the breed participants, not just those in the opening act. And they couldn't find one *ONE** FEI discipline horse? To be ANYwhere on the grounds They didn't even invite Harry Calahan? When a winning CDE horse was offered, his owner was given misinformation about the vaccinations and delayed to the point that the person who wanted to volunteer their time money and horse (ex winning five gaited horse now excelling in CDE) was put off entirely.
I'm sorry, but even though I love the show horses, and have gone that route for many years, and will again, they are only a small representation of what this breed has been doing since it's inception. People just don't know about it because it has been hush hush top secret as if the breeders, trainers and owners are ashamed of the top jumpers and other sport horses. And quite frankly, I've had just about all that I can tolerate of that attitude.
I did not own Harry by that time. His new owner in Florida was finally contacted and agree to let him come back to Kentucky to be a demo horse for the WEG. Chrissa his old trainer agreed to free up her schedule to show him during the WEG. Unfortunately, the ASB Sport horses were such an afterthought that Harry missed getting the proper bloodwork drawn by a few days. The FEI is very strict about timeliines and he was not allowed to participate.
Crooked trainers, sure, no question, they're everywhere. (But in other disciplines, they do NOT use their position as carded USEF judges to fix entire horse shows for personal gain... Because any judge who tried to pull that sh*t in H/J or elsewhere would get protested by at least one person in every single class and would end up going on a nice, long, mandatory vaycay. It boggles my MIND that Planet ASB puts up with this sh*t.)
And when was the last time you heard of *any* USEF Affiliate organization stealing from its members to perpetuate litigation filed by it against... other members? Name me one other time.
The AHA's (it may still have been IAHA then) handing of Gilda Ferguson's protest comes to mind...
"It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay