"A Horse of a Different Color" features horses and ponies that have been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed. Do you have a horse that you think would be a great feature subject? If so, tip us at [email protected]
Karen Webb has spent the better part of her life in the saddle. She’s had rides on all types of types, from Arabians to Thoroughbreds and a little bit of everything in between. But, now with a family, a full time job and a barn of her own, Karen has found her dream ride: the Saddlebred cross.
“For an amateur with other demands on my time, the warmbloods are often more difficult than I wanted to contend with. Very talented, but hard to manage when I have a husband, a child, my own barn and a hellish commute. I wanted something uncomplicated, but talented and sweet and just fun!” Karen explained.
In her search for the perfect breed, Saddlebreds became the recurring theme in her eyes. “Saddlebred horses are so sweet and just keep trying for you, and draft crosses are just big teddy bear horses. The Saddlebred temperament crossed with the draft ‘Steady Eddiness’ intrigued me, so I went searching for that,” she described.
Her Saddlebred dream became a reality with Joey, who is formally named Crosswinds Starbuck. Joey is a 9-year-old Georgian Grande, which Karen says, “sounds more like something you pick up at Starbucks, not a draft cross,” by the Saddlebred stallion Spot of Gold and out of the Percheron mare AK Shuberts Moon. Karen bought Joey as a 2-year-old from his breeder, Nancy Crosscut.
Joey was quickly joined by his half brother, Good Day Sunshine. “Bliss,” is an 8-year-old “Heinz 57,” also by Spot of Gold, but out of a Clydesdale/Hackney/Thoroughbred mare. He was bred by Lori Garnant’s Dundulk Sport Horses.
While Karen is focusing her riding efforts mostly on Joey and Bliss, she has one more to add to the mix: Marvelous Moondance or “Socks”. He is a full brother to Joey, and he’s now 6.
Joey has gone the farthest in the sport, competing through Novice level, while Bliss isn’t far behind having been proficient at Beginner Novice level at local schooling shows.
“Joey is like a labrador retriever. He is the sweetest horse,” Karen said. “I know there have been occasions where he has purposely tried to keep me in the saddle and not get out from underneath me when I wasn’t doing my best at riding him. He has just been the best horse to learn how to event on, and to try to master all three disciplines, even getting a late start in life with it as I have.”
“Even Bliss, being a bit more sensitive and opinionated about things, he really does try extremely hard to give me what I want or what I’m asking for,” she continued. “I really love their forgiving natures and willingness to keep trying.”
Karen’s experience with these Saddlebred crosses has turned her from believer to advocate, and she’s eager to share the undervalued benefits of these uniquely-bred horses.
“I think the Saddlebreds are undervalued as blood horse crosses. Obviously in eventing the Thoroughbreds and their contributions to various crosses reign supreme, but they can also be hard horses to contend with,” Karen elaborated.
“I think their (Saddlebred’s) temperament is a little more reliable and dependable. I do think they just try their hardest for you. I think the Saddlebreds do really bond with their person and make a connection where they will take a joke all day long and be forgiving and not get so flustered – that’s not to say we don’t have our moments. They’re still horses and they still have those reactions given the right set of circumstances,” she continued.
So far, she says the mix between Saddlebred and draft breeds has been the “sweet spot,” for her as an adult amateur, not to mention that these three are also really darn cute.
“My goal is to get to Training level. At this point in my life I don’t have any aspirations above Training level and I think Bliss can easily get me there,” she said. “I really do think they’re an overlooked gem of a cross.”