CH Sprinkles

Photo courtesy of Shane Shiflet/USEF Archive
(1996 – )
Owned by Dr. Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes
Inducted: 2013


The flashy American Saddlebred mare CH Sprinkles has indisputably proven her talent and versatility, claiming championships in multiple divisions and appearing in world-class exhibitions. Her showy gaits, strong work ethic and close connection with her riders have earned her the blue ribbon time and time again.

Over her career, Sprinkles has accumulated 99 championship points, ranking 15th on the all-time Saddlebred championship point list. She holds 18 world and national championship titles, four of which are reserve. Honored as a Horse of Honor by the United States Equestrian Federation in 2010, she also earned recognition as the United Professional Horsemen's Association (UPHA) Overall Saddlebred Five Gaited Horse (2010), and also received awards in 2009 and 2010 as the UPHA’s top Saddlebred Five Gaited Junior Exhibitor.

Michele MacFarlane, a widely respected American Saddlebred trainer and exhibitor, bred, raised and trained CH Sprinkles. She began showing Sprinkles in hand as a weanling and took her all the way up through the ranks. The pair won multiple gaited pleasure world championships. In 2008, MacFarlane offered the mare for sale to Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, whose daughters had been longtime fans of Sprinkles. Rainbolt-Forbes purchased Sprinkles for daughter Eleanor, then only 10 years old, to compete.

While some were skeptical that such a petite, only 50 pound, young rider could bring out the best in Sprinkles, Randy Cates, the family’s trainer at the time, saw the potential of the pairing. “Randy had the confidence in the horse, the child, and himself to think he could put it together, and he did, brilliantly,” said Rainbolt-Forbes. Eleanor and Sprinkles went on to develop a close partnership and win world and national championships in the 13-and-under five gaited division.

Sprinkles’ personality, heart, and drive set her apart from the rest. “She is a workaholic,” Rainbolt-Forbes explained. “She’s got the heart of a champion. Few horses have the work ethic and heart that she has, to go out there and perform time and time again, and love doing it.”

Sprinkles formed close connections with her two riders, as well as her beloved caretaker Caitlin Cooper and previous caretaker Slim Richardson. “They absolutely become a symbiotic team,” Rainbolt-Forbes said of Sprinkles’ relationships with her riders. But the mare only allows a select few into her inner circle. “She has her favorites,” Rainbolt-Forbes continued. “She bonds with just a few people, and she and Eleanor adore each other. The rest of us, she’s not quite so interested in.”

When called upon to serve as an ambassador, however, Sprinkles knows how to rise to the occasion. She starred in the opening ceremonies at the 2012 Breyerfest, a celebration of the popular Breyer model horses. Feeding off the energy of the crowd of 5,000 eager admirers, she showed off her impressive gaits. After the performance, hundreds of fans gathered to meet her, pet her, and take photos.

“She was exquisite and unbelievable,” Rainbolt-Forbes said of her behavior during the meet-and-greet. “She let kids hang on her bridle, she let kids pet her. She knew what she was supposed to do.” At one competition, a young girl with physical handicaps, who had been following Sprinkles’ career through magazine articles, was thrilled to see the mare in person at last. Sprinkles came right to the front of the stall to let the little girl pet her.

In the show ring, Sprinkles is all business, and she knows when to shine. At the opening ceremonies of the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, she and Eleanor put on a show, representing the native-to-Kentucky Saddlebred breed. “She loved the WEG,” said Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes. “The more applause, the more fireworks, the better " she’s all about that. She gets bigger and better and happier.”

Along with her appearances at the WEG and Breyerfest, Sprinkles has also represented Saddlebreds in the Tournament of Roses Parade. In 2012, Eleanor and Sprinkles switched over to the five-gaited pony division with the brilliant trainer Todd Miles of DeLovely Farm. Todd, Eleanor and Sprinkles demand the best of themselves and work magnificently together. If early results in their new plan are any indicator, they will be tough to beat in that division as well; they’ve already collected an impressive win at the 2012 UPHA/American Royal National Championship Show, and plan to continue competing as long as Sprinkles still enjoys it.

“We hope to breed her after her show career ends,” said Rainbolt-Forbes. “To have her lineage, with the kind of brain and heart she has, would be incredible.”