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Today there are a number of high point awards given by various publications, but in the early days there was just one – Saddle & Bridle’s Best Of Breed. The results that were published in the March 2015 issue are the 37th edition of these special awards, and they are just as important – and coveted – today as they were all those years ago.

The very first Best Of Breed, run in the February 1978 issue. The very first Best Of Breed, run in the February 1978 issue.

Best Of Breed originated during the 1970s, from the minds of Judy Werner and Lynn Weatherman. At the time, it was a novel thought; The National Horseman published an annual list of All American winners, but back then it was not based on a point system. Best Of Breed would be the first.

Saddle & Bridle was already well known for its annual Sire Rating, which was based on a point system devised by the legendary W. Jefferson Harris, but Judy saw the potential in rating and rewarding not only sires, but show horses of the day as well.

“We wanted a way to honor the horses who had won points for the stallions,” Judy said.

With the help of Lynn Weatherman, the two adapted the Sire Rating data to reveal not only the best stallions of the time, but the best actual show horses as well. The first Best Of Breed list was published in February 1978.

“It was a different type of honor system for a horse – and I think it still is,” Judy said.

Points are earned by every horse (and now equitation rider) showing at any of the 125+ horse shows of three days or more that are featured in Saddle & Bridle. Unlike many high point awards today, the system rewards not only horses and riders that win at just a couple of the biggest shows, but those that consistently place in the top ribbons at many shows throughout the year, maintaining a tough show schedule and promoting the show horse industry in the process. 

As Lynn Weatherman wrote in his introduction to the very first Best Of Breed, “Wing Commander, Delightful Society and The Lemon Drop Kid were great horses, not just because of their extraordinary ability, but because they were shown fearlessly, without being campaigned to death.”

Best Of Breed is built to find a balance between these two extremes, and still does today.

The system has changed little throughout the years, the addition of Best Of Equitation being the notable exception. Occasionally we hear from exhibitors who are interested in how their points are accumulated. While it may be complicated, it is not a mysterious process. There is no voting and there are no opinions; the numbers decide the winners. The breakdown of points is as follows:

Best Of Breed

Open Championships
  • 1st = 500
  • 2nd = 450
  • 3rd = 400
  • 4th = 350
Non-Open Championships (Junior Exhibitor, Ladies etc.)
  • 1st = 400
  • 2nd = 360
  • 3rd = 320
  • 4th = 280
Qualifying Classes
  • 1st = 100
  • 2nd = 90
  • 3rd = 80
  • 4th = 70

Best Of Equitation

All Finals and Championships at the World's Championships
  • 1st = 1000
  • 2nd = 900
  • 3rd = 800
  • 4th = 700
Qualifiers at the World's Championships
  • 1st = 200
  • 2nd = 180
  • 3rd = 160
  • 4th = 140
Championships
  • 1st = 500
  • 2nd = 450
  • 3rd = 400
  • 4th = 350
Qualifying Classes
  • 1st = 100
  • 2nd = 90
  • 3rd = 80
  • 4th = 70
 

I came on board with Saddle & Bridle fulltime in 2011 and have become more and more involved in this process with each passing year. Accumulating all the data for the Sire Rating and for Best Of Breed is a tremendous amount of work for all of us, but it is worth it when we finally mail the certificates and receive excited phone calls from the owners and exhibitors of these grand horses. It’s worth it because we know what we’re really honoring – the love of an owner, the passion of an exhibitor, the dedication of a trainer, and the magnificent ability of the show horse, that makes all of our dreams – and Saddle & Bridle itself – possible. 

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