In The Saddle with Anita Marsh: How to 'spot' yourself a good horse

As we head into the start of spring, many horse owners start to think of those long, lovely summer rides and our goals for the warmer weather.

By Anita Marsh
Friday, 25th March 2022, 11:48 am

Not everyone competes, but for those of us that do; it’s the perfect time to plan our goals.

As you will know by now, I’ve been focusing on bringing on my youngster and have already started to get him out and about. He’s a beautiful 15:2hh Appaloosa who is only five years old and life has been pretty steady for him whilst he grows up.

I didn’t know much about Appaloosas at the time I went to see him.

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Anita with her horse Sully.

To be quite honest, I was more than happy with my thoroughbred cross mare, April, and our then Welsh section B pony, Jazz.

However, my friend shared a post on Facebook advertising a foal for sale and from that moment onwards my life was about to change.

The Appaloosa is a fascinating horse in itself, with an even more interesting history. If you go right back to pre-historic artwork in caves you can see leopard spotted horses drawn on walls.

The domesticated horse can also be seen in artwork later on, with the American Indians in North America seeming to be the first to develop the breed further.

They were known by settlers back then as the ‘Palouse horse’, possibly from being located close to the Palouse river with the ‘Nez Perce’ Indian people.

During a war most of the breed were lost, but some remained and have luckily been preserved as what we know today as the Appaloosa horse. Thankfully this has ensured the breed survvived, and let me tell you what an incredible breed it is.

My boy Haverlands Sully Fire has been with me now from being a foal at six months old, but I’ve known him from around three months old after falling in love with him on Facebook.

I didn’t rush out to go and buy him, although my husband said straight away I could have him just on showing him the ad. I went with my friend and popped along to meet him in person and right there and then I just knew he was for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, Sully is without a shadow of a doubt beautiful but his personality is also incredible too. Appaloosas are known for their strong willed nature, they can be opinionated and full of their own self importance but this makes them probably one of the boldest horses I’ve ever known.

They are intelligent, quick learners and can turn their hoof to anything. You’ll find them as a family horse, out jumping, dazzling judges in the show ring and out doing fancy moves in dressage. The sky is the limit, but they are just as happy hacking around the village. They love to please.

I know this because Sully is registered with the British Appaloosa Society, which holds two large breed shows a year. One in the North and their national show in the South.

When my breeder told me about these shows I just nodded, thinking, as if I could take my horse to these. However, as a yearling he went to his first breed show and bombed round the ring doing what babies do best - showing the judge he could bust some moves with me wondering what on earth I was doing there.

However, my family and I were welcomed into the Appaloosa gang and before I knew it we had made a bunch of society friends from just that one show. On top of this I had met up with a lovely woman called Kirsty who became my Appaloosa show buddy there.

Every year I’ve met more and more of the Appaloosa family and now there’s quite a lot of friendly faces, always there to cheer you on and encourage you. I love that we have a Facebook page and we all send in photos and chat about what we are all up to - all of us cheering each other on to fly the ‘Appy flag at shows.

We share the love of horses, the breed and the trials and tribulations of horse ownership. We clap and whoop at the winners and shout good luck when we go into the ring. I think the council behind the society are phenomenal. They work tirelessly to preserve the breed and to promote it too. They help with questions, registrations and so much more.

Many people are surprised to know that Appaloosas are not all spotted. They have a huge variety of coat patterns. The Appaloosa is not a colour - it is a distinctive breed. One of my friend’s horses, from the society, is a solid coat pattern called Haverlands Vital Spark. He’s an absolute stunner and Sully’s full brother is a ‘few spot’ called Haverlands RV Spectre, and again, another beauty and both fine examples of the breed without spots.

I’m completely in love with the breed. I have Sully as you know and he’s so full of character. He’s a real class clown, but as soon as I saddle that guy up he knows his job and his attitude is let’s go. He’s not a dobbin, he can be sharp and full of energy but he’s going to be the making of me.

As for the society…I feel like I’ve got an extended family. They don’t care if I’m a novice. They all offer words of encouragement. I love that. I’m just so thrilled to have found Sully but it’s a shame it’s in the latter part of my life. Still - better late than never.

You can follow our story at ‘In The Saddle - Anita Marsh’ on Facebook. I’m on Twitter but I’m a bit of a technophobe. We love to hear from you and we’d love you to be part of our journey as we progress together. A middle aged, menopausal woman with her young horse. What a combination.