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Saddlebred Obsession

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  • Saddlebred Obsession

    I finally started riding my saddlebred mare (she was in semi-retirement-vacation status) and i have to admit...I'm super in love with her! I have a QH and a draftx, both of whom I also adore, but I'm really enjoying her intense personality. She makes me laugh when she snorts and blows through the doorway of the barn that she walks through 3 times a day (especially because I have caught her NOT snorting at it when distracted). She gives me funny looks when I can't get her flysheet on right side out or when I'm trying to detangle her tail and I'm taking too long. She is forward and a little wiggly and a powerhouse to ride. She spooked in the arena (she has been out of work for 5 years and there was something going on in the corner) and even though she spooked fairly hard, I wasn't dislodged at all...it was like she made sure to take me with her.

    Are they all like this? I'm really digging what I see! Tell me about your saddlebreds!

  • #2
    Had two when I was a kid. Best most fun horses ever! Very versatile and had a real sense of loyalty. Enjoy her

    Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare


    • #3
      I have a saddlebred cross for a lesson horse...he is such an honest little sports car of a horse! LOVES jumping and forgives rider error with a shake of his head.
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      • #4
        I've had too many to tell you about singly. But I have a few anecdotes about the breed in general.

        My step father, whose previous experience with horses was Appys (who are a completely different spectrum of personality) said "I don't like dealing with a horse that's smarter than I am". But he's learned to get along with our ASBs.

        They will mess with you. If they decide they're smarter than you (and many are) they will play jokes on you all day long. If they don't like you, they can make your life a living hell.

        They have a super imagination and a flair for the dramatic. If there isn't suitable drama going on for their taste, they will start some "I think today we're expecting Pirates. Yup, it's Pirates. And they're going to come screaming out of THAT mud puddle any second!"

        One day last year my horse decided that he would, under NO circumstances, go past the pile of cavaletti in the corner from left to right. Right to left they didn't exist. But when he first eye balled them and did a quick scoot to the right he unseated me a bit. Then he neglected to take advantage of that and dump me properly. He was so disappointed in his oversight, because he firmly believed I should have been paying attention and should now pay for my carelessness. So he decided to try to recreate the scene. Again and again. Of course I was ready for him and we spent 45 minutes jogging past one direction on a loose rein, and then throwing a freakin' fit the other way. He tried it ALL. And he was having so much fun getting a rise out of me. It took what seemed like forever for him to get tired of the joke. And then it was over. No biggie. Hasn't happened since.


        • #5
          My family has had Saddlebreds for over 50 years. They are wonderful horses....most of them are honest & kind. I remember we had a stallion that the previous trainer had labeled a "killer". He wasn't anywhere near a killer. The previous trainer was an idiot and the horse hated him.

          We took him to a show in Iowa and I showed him when I was 12. It was hilarious...his reputation had preceeded him and everyone was yelling at my dad for letting me ride the "killer". I loved that horse.
          Last edited by asb2517; Aug. 11, 2014, 11:46 AM.
          I'm not a CPA.


          • #6
            While I've only ridden one, at least to my knowledge, I do know some are fantastic jumpers. Back home in PA as a teenager, one of the families at the barn where I boarded my horse had a lovely chestnut Saddlebred. The older daughter, a teenager also, open jumped him (think 5'+) and the younger daughter, probably a tween, showed him in 3-gaited classes (not with the weighted shoes) at the same open shows. Classes like Saddleseat pleasure and eq.

            The teen took him to a hunter show at Rolling Rock Hunt Club in SW PA and he placed doing the working hunters (4')along with the show hunters that probably did all the hunter circuit shows. This was back in the 60's. I don't even know if RRHC still has the hunter show or not.

            I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


            • #7
              On the ' and even though she spooked fairly hard, I wasn't dislodged at all...it was like she made sure to take me with her.' comment,
              yes, that is pretty 'normal' for the breed. I had had the pleasure of knowing many Saddlebreds over the past 50+ years of my 'horselife' and most of them do try to take care of their riders. They are smart, with very active senses of humor, playfulness, and imagination. I love them.
              RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


              • #8
                Originally posted by OneGrayPony View Post
                She makes me laugh when she snorts and blows through the doorway of the barn that she walks through 3 times a day (especially because I have caught her NOT snorting at it when distracted).
                I had my first mare with a trainer because I didn't have enough time to work her. She jumped out of the barn daily when they went to long line her. She was 12 or 13. Trainer kinda hated the horse.

                Originally posted by OneGrayPony View Post
                She spooked in the arena (she has been out of work for 5 years and there was something going on in the corner) and even though she spooked fairly hard, I wasn't dislodged at all...it was like she made sure to take me with her.
                Yeah, um, not so much. She would, however, be sure to spin & jump right next to rail, so if I went off I'd be hung up the fence.

                Her sense of humor - I gave a hunter kid a pony ride one day. She was actually great. As I held her for the kid to get off, she reached around the curb bit and bit me. How she did it, since I was basically holding the end of the shank I don't know. But I couldn't wallop her since kiddo & kiddo's mom (who was understandably skittish about kid being on this horse) was right there. She knew.
                Visit my Spoonflower shop


                • #9
                  I miss my saddlebred days. Grew up showing them in kentucky and had great 3 gaited pony that took me to all the big shows.

                  I've got a fun ottb now, but kept my saddleseat saddle just in case.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OneGrayPony View Post
                    ...it was like she made sure to take me with her.
                    Mine didn't always try to take me with him. When he was younger he thought it best to leave me behind as an offering to the monster, thereby improving his own chances of escape. Until I met him I also was operating under a life long misconception that Saddlebreds didn't know how to buck. Some do. But the ASB teleportation method usually does the trick.


                    • #11
                      Oh, mine was VERY skilled in the art of rodeo bronc. I had to be sure to get all the bucks out in the warm up or he'd buck the whole first direction. Came off twice in the warm up at junior league (once he was caught and I was thrown back on to finish 3rd and the other time he jumped the track fence and took off through the parking lot) and had him buck all the way down the ramp and 1st lap at Louisville (also twice ). People would ask my trainer if he brought "that bucking horse". No wonder he was hard to sell. He was super talented, though.


                      • #12
                        How often DO they jump the fence and gallop through the infield? Cause I remember one of those. While it was still pretty light out. He went all over the place and IIRC they finally started following him with a car. 2009 or so?
                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                        Incredible Invisible


                        • #13
                          I could fill a book with stories, and the current Saddlebred would certainly have a few chapters. As others have said, they are smart and funny and not above playing (fun to them) games.

                          When I bought my current horse (in my signature), I was present for the Pre-Purchase and the vet brought a lovely, nice and completely uncoordinated, spastic assistant. When the time came to lunge (horse lunges excellently off voice commands), assistant stood wiggling the lunge line and flailed the lunge whip around in the dirt right next to her (not near the horse), trying to get horse to trot. Horse clearly already sized-up "flailing lady" as incompetent and slowly walked at the end of the lunge line ..if a horse could roll its eyes, he would have... he did finally sigh loudly and pick-up the slowest, most awful toe dragging western pleasure jog ever (and he is a beautiful mover)...when the spastic lady stopped flailing, he stopped and looked at her with complete contempt..it was unmistakeable. I didn't even really know the horse yet and I laughed out loud. Owner/seller went over, took lunge line, said 'TROT' and laid the lunge whip over his butt...expression on his face changed instantly "Whoops!, YES, Ma'am!" and off he went in a beautiful trot. ...It was funny.

                          He definitely has a big personality, and opinions he likes to 'share', but not a lick of evil intent and he really wants to have a 'conversation'/relationship with his person. On my first ride after buying him, I was trotting him around the indoor on a pseudo loose rein. I wasn't in great shape and not used to his lofty trot, so I wasn't particularly secure even posting and he was taking in the new-to-him arena, not spooking, just taking it all in....and he was far, far from a finished horse, had basically been a pasture pet for a few years. We went past the open side door just as a worker in a bright shirt appeared, startling us both. Horse 'teleported' a few feet sideways and I, already not secure, ended up hanging off the side of his neck (literally). Now I think most any other half-green/rusty horse in this situation....new barn, new indoor, something startling, rider he doesn't know who is now hanging off his side, etc.... would have proceeded to finish the job and bolt across the empty arena and dump my a$$....instead, he froze, and calmly turned to look at me (now just a inches from his face) with a "What are you doing up here?" look. He stood rock solid while I scrambled awkwardly back into the saddle...

                          We have certainly had our less than stellar moments the last few years, but that moment in that first ride made me realize I had chosen wisely...
                          Saddlebreds, a little snort and looky loo is just good fun to them, but most are seriously good eggs and want to connect with their person. Have fun with your girl.
                          "A good horse is worth more than riches."
                          - Spanish Proverb


                          • #14
                            Mine are skilled in the art of manipulation. I watch them check to see if the fencer in on. I have had a particular line that has learned the art of jumping electric fences. Even the single wire hard to see kind. They can open anything. Sliders, door knobs, latches even locking latches.

                            DH and I spent most of last winter trying to devise a slow feeder that could endure the saddlebred wrecking ball. We will start from scratch this year. My sister who has TWH's and MFT's thinks I over think my horse situations. You can't, you just can't.

                            I could spent hours telling their story's. Oh and that cognitive thought, yep they have it, you can see it in their expression when they are plotting their next move. They are THE most glorious breed on the planet. I'm 10 times the horsewoman I am today because of them.

                            Momma always said, "You NEED to be smarter than your animals." I had no idea how difficult that would really be.

                            As a riding horse my big guy is an absolute dream. He is so elastic and graceful. Even though he is 3 gaited his trot is so utterly smooth even when animated. Only when others have ridden him do they finally understand what I mean, it's so hard to describe in words. His extended trot is so big and ground covering but yet again smooth not jarring in the least. This breed was bred to be THE best riding horse in America. They still are. I've only had one that had a jack hammer trot. Voila! I taught him how to slow gait (stepping pace) Ahhhhh....


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                              How often DO they jump the fence and gallop through the infield? Cause I remember one of those. While it was still pretty light out. He went all over the place and IIRC they finally started following him with a car. 2009 or so?
                              I don't remember what show I was at (it couldn't have been Jr. League because of the boxes) but it had a low harness racing type fence. A horse with a very high canter ...whoops... cantered over the fence, and three strides later his rider had him back in the ring like nothing happened!


                              • #16
                                I knew one mare that got bored in a stall and would hop over the lower half of the dutch door. So a 'smart' groom thought to shut only the top door of the dutch while she ducked under and hiked down the aisle for something missing from her grooming kit.

                                16+ hh mare crouched and went through the 4' lower door opening and was standing in the aisle waiting for her when she came out of the tack room.
                                Didn't leave for the pasture; followed the person.

                                It is difficult to go into a pasture with any of mine to do fence work or whatever... obviously the only reason you are there is to do something fun or entertaining with them!
                                Not too long ago I was shooing the neighbor's alpacas back through a hole in his fence and the most senior mare immediately came up: blocking them from diving off, pinning her ears and making faces to keep them going the right direction. And she has no objection to them if I am not there to say they should leave; she is kindness itself and will graze with them.

                                They can be the most people responsive horses, which is both good and bad: if they have unpleasant memories of being with people they can be equally devious -being all snort and no go, or the usual favorite is overreacting to a weight shift with a pirouette or sideways power glide.

                                They are generally very forgiving of child riders, but like to embarass adults who 'think they can ride'.


                                • #17
                                  Thankfully that wasn't me lol. Mine was in '98 or '99. I think it took 45 minutes to catch him. The next year I held the reins when he tossed me so they threw me back up and I gathered myself while going in.

                                  I was also standing at the out gate when mr. snuffalupogus (I think it was him, anyway) jumped out. Cleared the fence nicely.


                                  • #18
                                    My mare always tries to keep me with her too. If cantering a potential spook means she will slow to a trot. At the trot she will slow down or walk. I always know when she doesn't like something and wants to get a good look. No stopping or spinning just wants a look. Of course most of the time there is a big snort involved. haha
                                    This example is for outside riding if in the ring she still goes forward just makes a wide berth.
                                    Super super smart, learns so quickly its unbelievable sometimes. I will always have at least one Saddlebred.


                                    • #19
                                      Back in the 70s-80s, I was at the first show with my new Saddlebred. I had just been given a leg-up on him to start our warm-up. Don't know why, but he started bucking before I had gotten my stirrups, and he was a walk-trot horse, so no mane to hang onto. So there I was trying desperately to hang onto the cutback saddle while thankfully the guy who had given me the leg-up still had hold of the reins. When he stopped for half a second, I vaulted off and got my trainer to get on. She calmed him down, I got back on, and we immediately crashed into a bush trying to get into the ring. I don't remember much of that class, but at least I stayed on.

                                      The next show, he tried to pull the same thing at the leg-up, with bucking and a little crow-hopping (funny, he never did any of this at home, but I always got on with a mounting block). So I stopped it by just sliding off his butt, which of course landed me on mine on the ground. He turned and looked at me with the biggest look of shock on his face, like "what are you doing down THERE?" And I remember saying aloud, "Are you happy now?"

                                      So at our third show, when I got a leg-up, the poor horse planted himself parked out and STAYED that way until he was absolutely certain I was ready to go! I think he scared himself when I actually ended up on the ground the last time (even though it was my choice). He never bucked again.

                                      What a good guy - I had him until he was 22, and he lived to be 32 at a friend's house.


                                      • #20
                                        I have two stories to share, one about each of my Saddlebred mares.

                                        My 19 yr old ASB mare, Belle, is the very definition of a saint. Boy does she love people. All people, not just ones she knows. She has done Hunters, Jumpers, Dressage and is now giving lessons to kids and is my friend's most prized schoolie.
                                        One time I had her boarded at a jumper barn that had a sliding barn door, garage-door style. It was pretty much always open except for after hours or during very bad weather. So she was used to going in and out that particular door when it was raised all the way up. One time, I had to lead her out of the barn and for whatever reason (can't remember), the door was closed. I was ab it surprised to find it closed, and it was quite heavy and awkward to open with one hand. As I started to open it (I had the lead in my right hand, mare beside me), the incredibly LOUD sound it made scared the bejeesus out of her - she Bambi-spooked and I stopped mid-lift and said "whoa girl, easy, it's ok, you're fine, nothing bad's going to happen, ho hooo..." and I started lifting it again. She trembled, snorted, pranced, but kept flicking an ear in my direction as I talked to her soothingly over top the racket the door was making. I finally got it open and she politely but tensely followed me out, and that was that.
                                        Most horses would've pulled my arm out of its socket, possibly even gotten away from me and bolted away from the door. I try to explain to people "it's not that they're less spooky or less frazed by stuff than other breeds, it's how they act DESPITE being scared/confused/sore that sets them apart. They try really really hard to do the right thing, to think things through, and they care enough to listen to their riders/handlers even when their natural instincts are screaming at them to RUN".

                                        Sasha Fierce, as she is known in the Dressage ring, is my most prized mare. I love this mare to pieces. She is more of a "I need to know and trust you to come out of my shell" type of horse, but she is always polite and respectful of people. She reserves her real affection for those closest to her.
                                        One time when I was riding in the (oversized) arena at a previous barn, there was one other boarder in there with us - she was long-lining her big WB mare. Big WB mare decided to spook and bolt, dragged the girl a bit then she let go of the long lines and screamed at me "HEADS UP!!!". The other mare tore across the arena, bucking and squealing, long lines flailing/dragging behind her. At first she was barrelling down the quarterline and I stopped my mare in the middle of the 20m circle at the other end. WB mare got to the end of the arena and proceeded to gallop around us in a circle, still bucking and totally out of control (probably freaked out at the long lines).

                                        My wonderful little mare was scared sh*tless, I could feel her heart pounding in her chest, her whole body trembling, but I patted her on the neck and soothed her and she stood her ground, snorting and prancing a tiny bit.

                                        Within a minute or two, people came running into the arena to help catch the loose mare, which still took another 3-4 minutes despite 5 people trying to corner her. When they finally caught her, one of them turned to me and said "Jesus, I can't believe your mare didn't lose her mind, and why didn't you dismount??"

                                        I said "are you kidding? I felt ten times safer on my mare then on the ground with [WB mare] running loose, thankyouverymuch." They were speechless.

                                        She is a heart horse for me - and for the past two years while I was focusing on my gelding, she has won over my friend as well, who has brought her back into work after she had a filly in 2011. They just hit their first Dressage show last month, and got 62% at First Level test 1. They are wonderful together! http://i496.photobucket.com/albums/r...pse9b0f0b9.jpg