How Jimmy Found a Second Life as an Academy Superstar March 02 2015 3 Comments

Jimmy’s show career began at the tender age of five, when he started competing in three-gaited classes. Jimmy went on to have a successful 14 year career as a show horse, ultimately transitioning into equitation.

Eventually, though, life and poor health got in the way, and Jimmy’s owner was no longer able to support him as she wanted. So she reached out to Team American Saddlebreds (TAS) to see if he could be repurposed.

Jimmy’s story exemplifies a new movement of horse owners who are choosing to repurpose their horses over more common or ‘easier’ options, like selling at an auction or to a dealer. While we may not imagine it when we first fall in love with a horse, for many of us, there will sadly be times when an unexpected change in circumstances will mean that keeping a beloved horse is simply not an option.  Caring owners always want the best for their best friend, but are often faced with tough decisions.

Which is why, at TAS, we’ve worked to provide Saddlebred owners with another option when facing these tough choices. TAS is a non-profit whose mission is to educate and raise awareness about the dangers facing the American Saddlebred today, and a networking resource for owners, breeders and trainers who would like to find a home for a lower price point horse, and in doing so, supporting an entry level market.

And luckily, this is what we were able to do for Jimmy, who thanks to a team of people, has found a second career as an academy superstar.  He now resides at Brannon Stables in Midway, Kentucky and this past summer returned to the show ring carrying the next generation of riders to the winners circle several times.

Academy superstar Saddlebred Jimmy from Brannon Stables in Lexington, Kentucky

Hannah, one of Jimmy’s new riders, couldn’t be happier. “I have always loved horses”, she said, “I rode him in my first workout class and he helped me through it.  Before a show, especially a big one, my legs are shaky and I am nervous but when I get on a horse I feel like I leave everything behind.”

Jimmy is a 25-year-old registered American Saddlebred, and his story is a true testament to the stamina and versatility of the breed; an amazing example of what a well cared for Saddlebred is bred to be. His story is also a great example what the TAS volunteers and supporters strive for.

As horse lovers we all want what’s best for our horses, whether it’s that lesson horse that taught us to post, or the horse that helped us achieve our dreams in the show ring. Taking time to raise our level of responsibility and follow through for each horse we encounter at every level will ensure a better outcome for more horses. Because in the end, we never would have made it to the top if we didn’t have each horse it took to get us there.

About the Author: Jennifer Hegg is the Secretary of Team American Saddlebreds, an alternative resource and networking group for unwanted Saddlebreds. They hope to raise awareness and responsibility for anyone who interacts, owns, trains, breeds or loves these amazing horses. We are a non-profit that is 100% donation and volunteer run. Learn more at