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Letter From Joan A. Hamilton

Joan A. Hamilton

Kalarama Farm

Post Office Box 342

Springfield, Kentucky 40069


December 2006


Dear Friend of the American Saddlebred,


I’m writing to you because the records of the American Saddlebred Registry indicate you’re the owner of a foal of 2005, which will be a two-year-old in 2007.  


All of us who love this breed are very fortunate to have such a superb venue as the Kentucky State Fair in August to showcase it. In 2006, the show’s management agreed to offer a new class in the Three-Gaited section, for two-year-olds to be shown with unset tails, for at least the years of 2006 and 2007.


A number of owners, breeders, and supporters of the Saddlebred have joined together to raise money to supplement the purse for the unset tail class, and thus far we’ve raised $21,000 for this purpose. Of that extra amount, $8,000 will go to the winner, $4,000 to second, $3,000 to third, $2,000 to fourth, and $1,000 to each remaining place through eighth. We hope you will consider this an important incentive in determining how you might show your two-year-old in 2007.


Per the 2006 Prize List, an unset tail is defined as an elevated, flowing tail without a breakover. No devices, including but not limited to braces, shoestrings, or tape may be used in the class to alter the position of the tail. Previous use of a bustle to elevate the tail is permitted.


Why does most of the leadership of our breed association and our Registry believe this is a very important initiative, and why have those of us who agree with them raised this prize money as an incentive? Personally, I think it’s because having this class is a small but important step in helping our breeders and our breed. We don’t think it’s necessarily in the best interest of our breed or our horses for their tails to be set routinely when they become two. We’ve all seen way too many crooked and damaged tails on what would have been very useful and even valuable animals had that not happened – their value has been diminished and the horses themselves have been harmed, way before they’ve been given a chance to reach their potential. Good Saddlebreds without set tails (and good Saddlebreds without crooked tails, especially) are saleable in many more markets, and many more places, for many more purposes, than they would be if their tails had already been set.


This class was conceived and recommended because it provides freedom of choice for the horse’s owner, without risk of any prejudice in class judging, both in its two-year-old year and later on as the horse develops. Nothing about this class prevents or deters anybody who has a horse that develops into a true high performance horse from setting its tail later, or continuing to show it with an unset tail as provided for in the rules! As it is, there are also many, many opportunities in today’s show ring for valuable, mature horses to show without a set tail. So, nobody is disadvantaged in any way by having this class, and by having it be a successful, showcase class for our breed. This opportunity reminds me of the situation many years ago, when there was such resistance to taking tail-sets off yearlings. That proved to be a very positive step, one almost everyone would agree with now. This new class at Louisville may well prove to be just as positive.


I want to emphasize that we’re not trying to establish a different breed standard or appearance. The elevated, straight and flowing tail that is a trademark of our breed is beautiful. But we all know that there’s plenty of time to achieve that appearance for high performance competitions without setting tails on all our horses when they’re just two.


Let’s join together to expand the potential of our breed and our breeders as much as possible. Please consider the Kentucky State Fair’s offering of this unset tail class for two-year-olds as a significant opportunity for you and for our breeders, as demonstrated by the very significant prize money supplement we’ve raised to promote it.


If you have any comments or questions, I’m always available and anxious to talk with you.


Sincerely yours,




Joan A. Hamilton
Kalarama Farm

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