The audience cheered as the first American Saddlebreds, since 1999 competed at the 129th Edition of the Alltech National Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. The breed, known as "the horse that America made," had been a fixture at the National Horse Show since the late 1800's but after the 1999 the Saddlebred performance classes had disappeared from the show.
|Misdee Wrigley Miller and Grande Gil (Brooke Jacobs photo)|
|Larry Hodge and SA Kalarama’s Ultimate (Brooke Jacobs photo)|
It is only natural that the American Saddlebred return to the Alltech National Horse Show in its new home in Kentucky. Kentucky has been the center for some of the finest American Saddlebred horses in the country.
According to Andrea Walton, an American Saddlebred enthusiast and former winner of the prestigious Good Hands Saddlebred Equitation Class at the National Horse Show, “When the notable trainer, Helen Crabtree moved her farm to Simpsonville, KY, everyone thought she had moved to the middle of nowhere. Today many of the finest trainers in the country are in Simpsonville and the surrounding areas.”
The first class to kick off their return was the $1,500 Three Gaited Open Stake. Music played and vocal spectators showed their appreciation for the expressive, high-stepping horses. But it was Misdee Wrigley Miller, from Paris, KY and her own, Grande Gil that took home the first place prize. Peter Palmer from Prospect, KY and Carl, T. Fishers’s Battlefield earned second place.
Next, the $1,000 Fine Harness Amateur Stake Class, sponsored by Cecile and Kenny Wheeler, demonstrated their flashy park trot and show trot, engaging the audience with their brilliance. Again, it was Miller who earned the blue ribbon driving the beautiful chestnut, Castle Dream, owned by Hillcroft Farm in Paris, KY. Steel the Moment owned and ridden by Linda Beltz were second.
In the audience favorite, the $1,500 Five Gaited Open Stake, competitors showed at the walk, trot, slow gait, rack and canter. The American Saddlebred is bred to have the ability to perform the two man-made gaits, the slow gait-a stepping gait and the rack- a four-beated, fast and ultra smooth gait, in which only one foot touches the ground at a time. The spectators applauded and shouted out for their favorite horse when the announcer called for the competitors to “rack on.”
First place honors went to Sa Kalarama’s Ultimate, a beautiful stallion owned by Joan Hamilton of Springfield, KY and trained and ridden by Larry Hodge. Second place went to Lynn Williams owned by Golden Creek Farms, Inc and ridden by Mary Gaylord McClean of Simpsonville, KY.
“It feels wonderful to be back at the National Horse Show,” said Hodge. “The crowd is into it so much. We showed at the Garden and it was a thrill of a lifetime to get to go there. We’ve had this horse about four years now. I won the Stallion Stake with him here and was Reserve World Grand Champion last year. He’s a super game horse, he’s such a thrill to ride. He has so much energy and so much pizzazz. When you hit the saddle, you’ve got to be ready to ride!”
American Saddlebred classes resume Thursday evening following the Double H Farm $75,000 International Open Jumpers At the Alltech National Horse Show in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. For more information about the 2012 Alltech National Horse Show, 129th Edition please visit http://www.nhs.org