Stewardship is a word often used these days when discussing the environment and the communities in which we live. As a breeder of horses, I believe that stewardship is one of the most important things I do. Doing it well creates a total environment in which horses, land, resources, and people benefit in countless, often unimagined ways. Balancing all those elements in a thoughtful way, without waste, and without overuse is what Far Field Farm has become for us.
What this means for the horses is that the environment in which they are born and raised is one we try to optimize in terms of their nutrition, daily care, socialization with each other, and interaction with people. We want them to leave here, when they do, with both respect for and a positive attitude about their human handlers and riders. One of the results of this program is that Far Field horses do not exhibit stable vices such as cribbing and weaving, they are healthy, sound, and do not suffer from developmental problems,. They are happy horses and carry no mental scars from bad treatment or training. In as many ways as we can, we want the horses raised here to become model horses for their future owners. Happily, we have many repeat buyers, and there is probably no greater reward than knowing our young horses are valued by the people who acquire them.
We subscribe to the belief that most young horses are started under saddle far too early. When their skeletal systems, muscles, and joints are not yet ready to carry weight or compete, they often endure pain, leading to behavior issues in training. We saddle and ride our horses when they are physically and mentally ready for it, not before. This too contributes to their longevity, soundness, and positive attitude.
The American Saddlebred was once regarded as the most ideal riding horse in the country. Developed in Kentucky during the American colonial period for its smooth gaits, athleticism, and beauty, the breed became the preferred mount for officers on both sides during the American Civil War. If this were Europe, the Saddlebred would be regarded as the original American Warmblood, one that developed as an outgrowth of regional needs. The Saddlebred was a fusion of the horses brought here with America’s immigrants, one that was hardy enough to prosper, comfortable in its gaits for the great distances to be ridden in a wilderness environment, and useful in the many ways needed in a newly settled and farmed country.
Furthermore, Its proven courage, stamina, and intelligence made it a favorite as a cavalry mount which led to its subsequent use as a competition horse in peace time. We have sought bloodlines that exhibit the qualities of those earlier horses. We call them Heritage American Saddlebreds.
Conformationally, we admire a horse with a balanced appearance. Sheila Varian, long time breeder of Arabian horses, has said when describing her own family’s successful history of breeding horses that a conscientious horse breeder must ignore the advice of those who would follow the latest trend in type or individuals. Instead a breeder should look to the fundamental standards of athletic conformation and abilities, never wavering from promoting the horse that exhibits good bone, good feet, a balanced structure, good health, and a trainable, intelligent, and willing character. The American Saddlebred was once a horse that was ridden for long distances, it was an all around using horse, and was credited for some of the early battle successes of the Southern cavalry in its war against the North. It could jump and was as suitable pulling a buggy as it was to wearing a saddle. It was a family horse, and one whose beauty gave it a naturally regal appearance. Its substance, good legs, and feet made it a sturdy horse that remained sound for many years of hard use. This is the horse we admire and hope to promote as the future of the breed. Our farm has made a decision to emphasize the principles we believe will best ensure the future of the American Saddlebred Horse: to breed a Saddlebred horse that fulfills our goals of athletic conformation and temperament suitable to an all- around family and pleasure horse, one that can compete in open competition against horses of other breeds.
Equally important, we hope that we can give to the buyers of our horses just a part of the peaceful world these horses have given us in a lifetime of living with them on a daily basis. We hope the buyers of our horses will use them as dressage, cowboy dressage, western dressage, eventing, combined driving, endurance, and trail horses. We hope their children will learn to ride, care for, and spend time with our horses. We hope our horses spend the rest of their lives with their buyers.