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The Matt Shiflet Stables crew helped Breaking Bad and Clever Girl to World Grand Championships titles in the World’s Championship Horse Show held in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Can you say ... domination?

ASHEBORO — For more than 50 years, Shiflet Stables in Asheboro has produced a wealth of championship horses. This year was no different.


In fact, the number of titles the local stable came home with after the World’s Championship Horse Show was held in Lexington, Ky., in late August was the most of any stable that competed in the event, which has been held for 120 years and is considered the most prestigious Saddlebred show in the world.


Of the 23 horses Shiflet Stables — now known as Matt Shiflet Stables — entered, 13 horses combined for 19 world championships, and two — Breaking Bad and Clever Girl — won World Grand Championships, a title that only seven horses from around the globe can claim. Two of those seven are from Matt Shiflet Stables.


“It’s very unique to have that many horses win from the same barn,” said Whitney Shiflet, who along with husband Matt owns and operates Matt Shiflet Stables. “Of all the top barns at the world championships, title-wise, I don’t know anyone else this particular year topped us. The titles were won across all the divisions, a broad spectrum.”


Matt Shiflet had an incredible week as of the 14 horses he showed, 13 came home with titles. He placed third in the only classification he didn’t win.


Raising, training and breeding American Saddlebreds, Matt Shiflet Stables features three trainers. Matt Shiflet and Whitney Shiflet are trainers and Drew Taylor Bradford has been an assistant trainer there for six years. The Shiflets will keep up to 55 horses at their farm at one time, horses from all over the world. 


“They seek us out,” Shiflet said of clients wishing to have their horses trained at Matt Shiflet Stables. “We have clients in Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and had clients as far away as South Africa. They like our program and like our family. They travel here, we train them and they will come here to practice a couple of times a month. We will meet them at the show and compete.”


Shiflet said the owner of Clever Girl doesn’t ride herself, but enjoys coming to shows.


“They enjoy the family aspect of it, the friendships,” Shiflet said.


Of course, when you show as many horses as the Shiflets do, especially at the World Championships, there are plenty of emotions.


“There are a lot of emotions involved, which makes it exciting for us,” Shiflet said. “We start showing in April and usually have one per month. We have one in April, May, June, July and then we have the World Championships in August. 


“We use those shows to prep the horses and prep the riders for the World Championships. There’s always a little bit of everything: Excitement, nerves, anticipation as it gets closer. There’s definitely pressure. When you have high-caliber top horses, you put pressure on yourself. Our customers are always wonderful and great sports. But there certainly is a level of pressure.”


There are numerous divisions and classifications in showing horses. For some divisions, horses must compete in a certain number of horse shows and classes to qualify. Some divisions are open.


“Each division has different criteria and weight on that criteria,” Shiflet said. “Athleticism, presence, beauty, speed. Breaking Bad is a lot about speed and maintaining form. Clever Girl is more about presence and athleticism.”


Clever Girl won the Open Fine Harness World Grand Championship as a four-year-old mare, an impressive accomplishment for a horse so young.


Breaking Bad won the Roadster to Bike World Grand Championship. That involves pulling a sulky with emphasis on speed while maintaining form.


“There are only seven world grand champions and two are in Asheboro North Carolina,” Shiflet said. “North Carolina is not considered a horse state. It’s a long ride home from Louisville and we were tired, but thinking about all the championships made it a quicker ride.”