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ASHA Breeder of the Year: Julie Behrends-Jones




For decades, the best of the best in the breeding of American Saddlebreds have subscribed to the theory of the importance of the bottom line. The bottom line in this case is not profit, however, if a profit is to be hoped for in the breeding business you better have the best mares possible on that bottom side of the pedigree.

“I believe your mares are at least 60% of your program so get the best you can afford,” said this year’s honoree, a Texan who transplanted to an old school American Saddlebred community, Danville, Kentucky. “I look for a very strong, tall female line as well as her sire having a strong female line. I look for lots of Broodmare Hall of Fame mares in the pedigree if possible. I don’t care for once and done horses with family members that did nothing but a mare had one foal that did well and then became breeding stock.

“There needs to be a strong show horse family in her pedigree. Phenotypically, a long nicely shaped neck, well set on her shoulders, great hip, good hocks, and a sloping shoulder are a must. I also really like pretty since I spent so many years in the Arab world. She also needs to be athletic and since we do all the work ourselves, no evil. I can take crabby, but we have to be able to handle them.”

This formula seems to have worked well for our honoree. Growing up the only member of her family interested in horses she was always horse crazy. No Barbie dolls for this youngster, it was Breyer Horses and every book she could find about horses. Her first lessons came from Beulah Cates in San Antonio. At the age of 19 she went to work for Ford Arabians as a show groom for Bill Addis. There, she learned much about the breeding world. When Bill left, Brian Chappell took over the training duties and lo and behold he would become her neighbor in Kentucky years later.

Marrying the local vet helped her breeding education by leaps and bounds, not to mention animal care in general. Raising half Arabs with Tina Ford, our honoree was told by Jim Stachowski to get better Saddlebred mares, which she did. When in Kentucky for the Arab Nationals Tina took her to Don Harris Stables, Kalarama Farm and Mitch Clark Stables. The hook was set.

Her husband sold the vet practice and they moved to Kentucky and started breeding American Saddlebreds. “My husband said, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it right.”

Now heading her broodmare band is Evangelique BHF, a Harlem Globetrotter daughter out of a double Mountain Highland Memories daughter who is a half-sister to reserve world’s champion of champions Highland Cavalier. 

Evangelique is the dam of world’s champion of champions Double Black Diamond (by Castle Bravo) and multi-titled world’s champions We Must Be Really Nuts and We Must Be Nuts, both by Nutcracker. She is also the dam of Booker Noe, a young breeding stallion she owns by Nutcracker and Angel’s Envy, a young mare she has retained to breed.

Elegant Heirloom is another mare that is producing headliners for our honoree. This daughter of Harlem Town out of the Broodmare Hall of Fame matron, Lovely Heirloom is the dam of the 2019 world’s champion and UPHA Classic Grand Champion The Crowd Went Nuts.

Also in the group are Lily Pad, a pinto daughter of Sir William Robert who produced world’s champion Nutcracker’s Spot On; Lucinda Blue, a Desert’s Supreme Memories daughter out of Fort Chiswell’s Blue Memories (BHF), herself a daughter of world’s champion Royal Memories and the dam of three nice babies waiting their turn in the show ring; Scarlett Harlem is by Harlem Globetrotter out of a Castle Bravo mare who is out of a Blackberry Winter daughter and she is already the dam of the top walk-trot colt Personal Legend; and Mighty Mighty Aphrodite is by Callaway’s Northern Kiss out of the dam of Don’t Tell Em Jack and her third dam is Columbia’s Cherry Blossom, the dam of world’s grand champion CH Memories Citation.

Our honoree has also previously bred reserve world’s champion Cirrusly Divine, reserve world’s champion Elegantly Beautiful and the breeding stallion Coconut Frosting.

Her best friend says our Breeder of the Year has a competitive nature, a contagious laugh, staunch political views and an easy ability to strip you down to raw honesty because she would never judge you. She has overcome more than her share of hardships which has shaped the sensitive, spiritual and grateful soul that she shares openly with everyone.

“I think that’s one of the reasons why she so carefully selects the breedings that have become so successful; she understands the profound value of life and how one being – whether two-legged for four – can affect so many other lives,” said Jen Cochran.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our ASHA Breeder of the Year is Julie Behrends-Jones.

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