Sarah + Suede
Breed American Quarter Horse
After my barrel horse Twister broke his ankle on a trail ride in February 2015, I started to look for a prospect to take his place while he recovered. My search led me to Emmy Lou Clark who had taken Up Up Up when he was retired from racing after only 2-3 outs on the track. Up Up Up wasn’t aggressive enough to race, when he’d get bumped by another horse he would shut down. Emmy Lou saw something in him and took him to her place in Oklahoma and got him going in a western saddle before bringing him to Arizona so I could try him.
After seeing him in person my doubts got bigger. He paddled when he trotted and he wasn’t a big bodied or flashy horse. He was simply a dark bay, with a very race type body. A buddy of mine who works at the Ruidoso Downs track tole me that his breeding, which included the famous Corona Cartel, indicated that he wouldn’t make a good prospect. But I Emmy Lou had driven to Arizona with him, so I figured I should try him. The next day we put her slicked out reining saddle up on him and I swung a leg over for the first time. I didn’t want to mess with the settings on Emmy Lou’s saddle but she had much longer legs that me so as we started working at a faster pace I started slipping. This wasn’t my rough out barrel saddle and I had no stirrups, so I thought a fall was going to be inevitable as we picked up an easy lope. As I started sliding down to the left, Up Up Up moved his shoulder underneath me to get me centered again. Color me impressed, but it had to be a fluke right? This is a 4 year old who was just barely western broke and he was trying to keep me safe. We started circling the other direction and the same thing happened; I started to slip and he caught me. A quick change to the other direction and he did it over and over again. At that point I was sold. Any horse that instinctively tries to keep their rider safe is a keeper in my book.
Up Up Up was given the barn name “Suede” because he’s the softest horse I’ve ever pet and he is an absolute dream to ride because he’s so smooth. I hadn’t been riding him for a month when I found out I was pregnant. A week after the that, I was put on bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy. A few months later and we all moved from Southeast Arizona to Northern New York. Suede got to just be a horse for about a year, turned out with my other two. The summer after I had my daughter I was struggling with my emotional and mental state because I wasn’t riding my horses. I decided to get Suede started again and actually see what he could do. Bless this horses heart, he’s just an honest horse and he was the same horse I had swung a leg over more than a year before. I found out that he will call you out on your short comings, and while there isn’t a mean bone in his body, he will try and be the boss if he feels you aren’t up to the task. I didn’t take into account that I was out of shape and I needed someone to help me from the ground to get my hands, seat, and posture back to where they needed to be again. After months of us both being frustrated I finally stopped making excuses and I sought expert advise from a person who had been there, done that and conquered the First Frontier Circuit, Wendy Chestnut.
After a lot of training with Wendy, this year I decided to go for my big goal, to fill my WPRA permit and finish in the top 5 of the permit girls. Not many people would try to fill their permit on a green, inexperienced horse who had never even been to a rodeo before. I decided why not, and into the fire we went. As expected, our first rodeos weren’t pretty. We knocked barrels, we ducked barrels, we started having alley issues; you name it we dealt with most of it. Fast forward to mid-season and we won a check! We earned a few more checks at rodeos with a few road blocks and now we’re less than $300 away from filling our permit, AND we’re sitting in the number 3 spot going into the First Frontier regional finals permit standings! This horse is just as competitive as I am, and as hard as it’s been with our collective egos and super temperaments, this year has been amazing and so rewarding. Suede was a huge blessing in my life and is a treasured member of my family, not just to me, but my daughter as well. She calls him mommy’s unicorn, and she loves when I let her take him for a spin. He has given me back my sense of self and has helped me reach the goals I had given up on when Twister broke his ankle.
What #RightHorse means to me
To me #righthorse means an equal partnership based on mutual love and respect between horse and rider, a relationship that lifts both horse and rider to a higher level, making both better by being together.