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National Federation Awards Annual “Heroes for Horses” to Saddlebred Rescue, Inc.

The annual Heroes for Horses award is presented by the United States Equestrian Federation to an individual(s) or organization(s) that have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the protection and welfare of horses and/or have saved equines through an act of courage and resolve during a crisis situation. Saddlebred Rescue, Inc. is this year’s winner of the Heroes for Horses award.


Heroes at work………….  For at least the third time in his life a 20-something year old black American Saddlebred gelding found himself standing in an auction sale barn tied between other horses that were far too close as far as he was concerned.   Unfortunately, this time he was skinny, dirty, hairy and crabby due to a series of very unfortunate events.   He was not a horse that anyone would want for any kind of occupation, as he was in no physical shape for work.  Pinning his ears didn’t endear him to anyone looking for a horse for their kids or the brokers looking for horses to sell.  He was only of interest to those who would profit from his death at a slaughterhouse.


“Blackie” on his first day of rescue


Fortunately ,the  Saddlebred Rescue heroes spotted his very typey Saddlebred ears high above the others.  When approached he again pinned his ears warning them to stay away but they didn’t heed his warning and went up to him to pet him.  He relaxed. The crabbiness dissipated.  This was exactly the type of horse that Saddlebred Rescue was formed to help. With assistance of funds from ASHA of NJ the black gelding was purchased and came home to New Jersey to begin his new life.

Saddlebred Rescue, Inc., is a non-profit organization devoted to saving and “re-homing” American Saddlebreds, and other horses, that would otherwise be headed for their death. Many are purchased at last-stop auctions and through the efforts of Pat Johnson of Blairstown, NJ; Nealia McCracken of Hardwick, NJ; and Christy Parker of Brunswick, GA; and their supporters, over 100 horses have been saved. Many Saddlebred horses, as well a handful of hackneys, harness ponies, draft horses, Standardbreds and Morgans, have found loving new homes across the country and now have a future with a job teaching someone to ride, or serving as therapy horses.


This group has made a difference to over 100 horses just in the past year by purchasing American Saddlebred and saddle type horses and ponies at auctions where they were at risk for immediate slaughter. The horses are assessed by current professionals with decades of experience. The majority are re-homed, bound for a useful job and purpose as lesson horses, pleasure driving and riding horses, and therapy horses where they are wanted, and earning their keep.


As for the skinny black horse? Thanks to trained eyes this emaciated filthy horse was purchased and sponsored by a generous individual who learned of his plight and the work of Saddlebred Rescue. He has been nursed to good condition, evaluated for his appropriateness as a school horse, and placed in a lesson program in North Carolina.  He has been an ambassador for these horses that are returning back into that industry not as freeloaders but as a vital part of rebuilding our breed from the grass roots up.

“Since his arrival in North Carolina (he)  has gained a ton of weight, gotten into shape, learned to eat treats, gained a shiny, black coat and taught a bunch of lessons from very small intermediates to my more advance students.” said  Trainer/Instructor Heather Boodey of Ingleside Farm.  Her student remarked: “Over the past few months that Banner has been at Ingleside, I have really bonded with him. He is a very sweet horse and although he is not mine, I love him as if he were. If I had to choose my favorite horse out of every horse I've ever known, I would definitely choose Banner.”


A blossoming network of Saddlebred Rescue supporters has raised money and awareness on a national level.  American Saddlebred youth groups have completed fundraising through horse shows, selling salsa, and horse treat bags to raise awareness at venues across the country. Educational booths have appeared this year at the UPHA National Convention and in front of thousands at many horse shows nationwide. Countless people have donated their time making promotional materials, fundraising, producing silent auctions to help and just plain spreading the word. Not only is this group making a difference to the horses, they are educating horse fans young and old, across all breeds and disciplines on the importance of care, feeding and barn management through the example of the lost souls they are picking up along the way.


Finally, a picture of Banner, at the Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show in Asheville, NC, as an ambassador for Saddlebred Rescue.  He got to strut his stuff and show the crowd what a once rejected, skinny old horse can do for the future of our industry.


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