Women's History Month Saddlebred Strong Stories: All It Takes Is One Horse
Published Date: Mar 23, 2020
"Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” — Oprah Winfrey. March is Women's History Month, and this year the ASHA will be sharing a selection of "Saddlebred Strong Stories" that celebrate the fantastic stories of strength, enrichment, and support that the American Saddlebred horse and community bring to our "Horse Girls" lives every day. Today we share a very special message from a very special ASHA member who has been forging a tremendous path of partnership, perseverance and accomplishments in and out of the ring. The message below is apiece written by Lilly Callahan about her beloved American Saddlebred eventer, Royal Crest’s Granite Permission, Moose for his nomination for ASR Diplomat of the Breed. He was awarded the November 2019 ASR Diplomat of the Breed for his success and role as a breed ambassador on the Eventing scene, 4-H, Gymkhana and a wide variety of demonstrations.
“All it takes is one horse. One horse to change your life. One horse to begin the chain reaction of change in an otherwise unchanging world. Every person who has been lucky enough to be touched by a horse has dreamed of the day they meet their heart horse. Only a small amount of these people actually receive the life-changing love and trust of a heart horse. Fortunately, I have been able to feel this warmth with my American Saddlebred, Moose.
Love is one of the truest emotions a person can feel. A person’s ability to love is what defines humans as a reasonable, complex organism, but we aren’t the only animals capable of love. When thinking of a non-human animal that feels deep love, most people think of the great apes or domesticated pets, such as dogs. When I think of love, I think of Moose. The softness of Moose’s deep brown eyes gives me more comfort than any snuggly blanket or mom bear-hug. Moose has completely given himself to me. The way he leans into my hugs, waits for me at the paddock gate, dances with me when loose in the arena, and sacrifices his health for my safety are all evidence of his ability to feel and show deep love. Moose’s gentle giant personality is always prominent, but his confident affection took time to develop.
When galloping a horse towards a one meter fence at the speed of four-hundred twenty meters per minute, trust is needed. I trust Moose an unpredictable, twelve-hundred pound prey animal ,to willingly jump over every fence, to listen and respect my every movement. I trust Moose with my entire life. One misstep on Moose’s part could end it all. My trust in Moose is something, but Moose’s trust in me is everything. He trusts me to load him into a moving aluminum box, take him on cross-country road trips, and pilot him over never-before-seen fences. He trusts me to protect and care for him. Without this trust, I wouldn’t have Moose’s love. Without Moose’s intense trust in my ability to always care for him, we wouldn’t be the life- changing team we are today.
Before meeting Moose, I was a stressed, angry teenage girl. I had private family issues that created an immense amount of never-ending resentment. My push towards perfection in my school work covered me in stress. I was missing something in my life. I needed to feel something real. The first time I sat on Moose, I didn’t find the missing piece in my life. In fact, I only bought Moose because I had just convinced my mom to drop her life in order to drive to Wisconsin for him. Moose was simply a blank piece that fit into the puzzle of my heart. Moose temporarily took my mind off of all of the bad things in my life, but, overtime, he became the missing piece I needed so desperately. Not only has Moose changed the minds of many ASB naysayers through jumping demonstrations, high level awards, and his personality, he has changed the way I view life. Now, after feeling Moose’s deep love and trust, I have gained the strength and courage to pursue my dreams and push past all of the haters.”
Over the past four years, Lily and Moose have become a successful team, competing in eventing, working hunter, jumping, pole-bending, and barrel racing classes, representing the American Saddlebred very honorably in those communities. Moose has earned multiple National Championships in the Saddle & Bridle Working Hunter division. He and Lily have qualified for the American Eventing Championships three years in a row and has placed respectably each time. In the realm of speed classes, he continues to reliably place in the top three when competing in pole bending and barrel racing.
Lily and Moose also serve the ASB breed by attending public demonstrations. He shows the athletic ability of the American Saddlebred by jumping and further showcases his bond with his rider and trustworthiness as he’s ridden bareback and bitless around barrels. Due to his fine work, many previous skeptics of the breed now acknowledge its versatility and brilliant spirit.
For the American Saddlebred community, Moose has provided a fine example of the breed’s versatility in his work as a jumper and earned high level awards, and he also wins the hearts of many with his gentle personality. However, perhaps his greatest accomplishment is changing the way Lily views life. She believes his love and trust have led her to the strength and courage she’s needed to overcome adversity and pursue her dreams