Keeping a Foot in Both Camps
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania horsewoman Julie Lynn Andrew is sponsoring the American Saddlebred Individual Breed Class at Dressage at Devon, the largest dressage breeding show in the world, in the Fall of this year. The class has been sponsored in the past through the ASHA, and Julie, who owns ten Saddlebreds, wants to help increase Saddlebreds’ visibility. Specifically, she wants to see them promoted and successful as Dressage horses.
“We need to get quality horses out there: good-thinking, athletic horses from the kinds of bloodlines that produce champions. You have to begin with the end in sight: the sport horse market in America has exploded in the past fifteen years. These people will pay tens of thousands of dollars for a quality prospect- hundreds of thousands for a horse with the talent and record to compete at the national and international level,” Julie enthuses. “Our horses can do everything that theirs can do better, and yet fewer than three-thousand American Saddlebreds were registered last year. The horse that America made is every bit as good as any of the warmblood breeds. We need to grow our market, and educate the breeders and the people buying these horses,” she concludes.
Melanie Sloyer, Chairperson of the Breed Show at Dressage at Devon is a believer. She has accompanied her friend Julie to Tattersalls Fall Sale the past two years. “Julie took me to Ronnie Grahams’ to watch Saddlebreds work, and then showed me a video of Olympic Bonfire- the Dutch horse that has won the World Cup in Dressage the past three years. He trots and canters like a good quality Saddlebred: with motion, hocks, impulsion, and suspension. I was convinced.”
Julie agrees, but adds, “Yes, but the only way to accomplish this effectively is to use horses with the ability to win, because it’s the best way to prove the point. We need to motivate the breeders and the Trainers financially,” she warns, “so that they have a stake in the expansion of the breed into this discipline.” She continues, “if we can introduce, and support the addition of dressage classes to shows of the highest level, like Louisville, there can be networking between the professionals, as well as the amateurs, with their shared interest in Saddlebreds.”
“What’s important isn’t which horse wins the class this year at Dressage at Devon. It is that we make a quality presentation to the rest of the Sport Horse world. What is important is if one of our horses makes a great showing in the open division, against the warmbloods. We can’t beat them with culls and rejects from other divisions,” she warns, “There are plenty of Saddlebreds who can win at the upper levels, although its often hard to overcome peoples prejudice- and that’s not just from the dressage people. Most times, these great prospects can’t even be bought. When I call a Saddlebred breeder and tell them I’m looking for a well-bred, talented individual, and then explain what I want the horse for, many breeders won’t even quote me a price. They don’t want to sell me a good horse that is going to end up doing dressage, because they don’t see anything in it for them. That’s too bad. It’s why I end up at Tattersalls, hoping to find the one that got away.”
Julie, who describes herself as having “a foot in both camps,” grew up riding Saddlebreds, with Patty Kent, at Symbol Acre Farm, and then showing Hunters and Jumpers. She has run a nationally prominent Dressage Equestrian Center, and trained or shown Arabs, Warmbloods, Throughbreds, Crossbreds, and even a Lippizaner stallion, successfully at “A” class shows, including Devon. She bought her first Saddlebred more than twenty-five years ago, from Ronnie Graham, of whom she still thinks very highly as a trainer and mentor. That first mare was a two-year old Vanity’s Vision daughter (xHello Coe, by King Coe) who died at 26, still owned by Andrew. She is buried on the farm. “And could she ever jump!” says Julie.
“My Saddlebred family today includes daughters of Spring Valley’s Deliverance, Callaway’s Blue Norther, New York State, and Phi Slama Jama (and her colt by Reedann’s Top Gun), and a Chubasco filly out of Sharon’s Last Hope (Chat X Sharon Hope, by Wing Commander). I also have a wonderful Preferred Property gelding out of a Yorktown mare, and a brilliant, 16.2 Sultan’s Night Music gelding, out of a Storm’s Fury mare. The Chubasco daughter, a four-year-old who is currently doing training level dressage, is an extraordinary athlete, and extraordinarily intelligent. She’ll be competing at Devon this autumn.
Because I’m neither a Breeder or Marketer (Julie is Director of Sales and resources for a Builder in the Main Line area), I have no agenda other than that I want to see Saddlebreds reach more people, and succeed in Dressage. For that, I need a horse with a good, clean, four-beat walk, with a substantial over-track, a great work ethic, a lot of impulsion, and the brilliance that comes with a little snort and blow: in other words, a good Saddlebred. My horses make a pretty picture, all turned out in their paddocks, and I have a nice sign up that reads,’American Saddlebred Dressage Horses.’ Nearly every day, people stop and put notes in my mailbox, or pull into my driveway to inquire about my horses. I have to tell them that these horses aren’t for sale.”