I have had the privilege to have been an owner, exhibitor, breeder and admirer of the American Saddlebred for over fifty years. My daughters, Catherine and Bridget, represent the fourth generation of the McNeese family to have owned and bred Saddlebred horses. Catherine was a Triple Crown equitation rider and Bridget has been an active performance exhibitor and is currently showing homebred saddlehorses. This perspective as owner, exhibitor, parent, and breeder has allowed me to reflect on this remarkable animal and wish that other horse enthusiasts could know and appreciate the animal that my family has admired for so many years.
The breed has a perception problem that often limits its ability to be promoted in other disciplines--where the American Saddlebred is more than capable of excelling (Harry Callahan in dressage, Kobada's Jacq Of Times and Canyonleigh Stargazer in endurance). Entry into these other divisions coupled with success would not only be a great marketing tool for the breed, but it would also improve public opinion and increase registrations-two issues that need addressing.
As a Texan I am well aware of the American Quarter Horse and the growth and diversity of the breed. There are over three and a half million registered Quarter Horses with over 50,000 registered annually in a myriad of different disciplines-reining, western pleasure, hunter/jumper, and family horse. Saddlebreds are as versatile a breed, if not more so and yet for the most part our breed has a limited niche audience.
The qualities of the breed-- natural athleticism, stamina, willing temperament, intelligence, and exceptional beauty need to be introduced to other breed disciplines. To successfully accomplish this we as an association need to introduce the breed to other disciplines as a type and standard that is adaptable and useful in these divisions. As a breed we need to realize that not all great Saddlebreds are destined for the Five Gaited Stake at Louisville but have other qualities that might make the animal exceptional as a hunter/jumper, endurance, dressage, or eventing horse. Our association needs to aid breeders, trainers and horse shows to network with others to introduce the Saddlebred qualities to a wider audience.
As we encourage people to appreciate and embrace the diversity of our breed we need to redouble our efforts to promote the breed as the ultimate show horse which has thrilled us all for generations.
∑ Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas
∑ Professor of Pediatrics, Sub-specialty Child Abuse and Neglect
o Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Biology and Spanish, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia
o Medical Degree, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
∑ Post graduate
o Residency in Pediatrics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
o Pediatrics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
∑ The American Saddlebred Horse Association Paul and Dorothy Gillenwater Family Award
∑ The United Professional Horsemenís Association Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award
∑ Mary Baldwin College Sesquicentennial Medallion
∑ University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award
∑ Advocacy of Texas Medical Professional Award
∑ Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society
∑ University of Texas Medical School Houston Mentoring for Women Award
∑ Distinguished Alumna The Kinkaid School, Houston, Texas
∑ Former American Saddlebred Museum board member
∑ Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Board of Directors 1992Ė1994
∑ Former Texas American Saddle Horse Association board member
∑ Appointed by the Governor to the Texas Medical Board
My love of horses has always been a family tradition. During the Civil War, the McNeeses bred army mules. After the war, we bred Shetland ponies and Shetland mules for the Sells Floto Circus. Yet, in 1966, the family met Earl Teater and from then on my love of horses was directed to one breed in particular, the American Saddlebred.
Under the guidance of Mr. Teater and his son Edward Teater, we bred and acquired many champions, including WC sire and WC broodmare sire Baron de Bastrop, RWC CH Clover Mist, WC Merry Commander, RWC First Captain, CH Princess Trigg, and Really Supreme.
I had the privilege to show such horses as WC Lucky Discovery, My Cinderella, Oakhill Firefly, and RWC CH Clover Mist.
My daughters, Bridget and Catherine McNeese have continued the family's passion for the breed. Catherine winning the Triple Crown in equitation in 1988 and Bridget becoming a Reserve World's Champion twice in two different divisions with CH Sue Elegant and CH Principal.
A few of the horses bred by three generations of my family include WCC CH Renowned SC, WC Kent Brockman, WCC My Bugatti Royale (dam of WCC Our Charming Lady, WC sire Jon Bugatti, and Iím Royalty Too), Winter Fire SC, Booger, Jebadiah Springfield and World Champion producers Merry Contessa (dam of WC CH Fantastic Step), Harlem's Main Attraction (dam of WC Kent Brockman), Bridget Healey (dam of WC CH Renowned SC), Really Supreme, Dash of Pepper (dam of CH The Lonely Lady & RWC CM First Class), and La Marseillaise (dam of New York State of Mind & Flora McCleod), to name a few.
Horses developed and shown by the McNeeses include WC Principal, RWC CH Sue Elegant, Mandingo, One Step Above, Callaway's Cochise, Mickey Griggs, and Veiled Witch.
One of the biggest thrills of my life was watching my daughter, Bridget, show Kent Brockman this past year in the amateur park division. A horse bred by her sister, Catherine; whose mother, I bred; and whose paternal grandmother was bred by my father. To see this legacy continue was a remarkable experience and makes me proud to have had the fortune to know this remarkable breed. My wish is for my family to continue our involvement in the breed with the same dedication and passion that the family has demonstrated in the past.