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Sky Watch: Chasing an American Saddlebred Story

March 2024, University Press of Kentucky

Horse shows used to draw crowds by the thousands to state fairs and venues like Madison Square Garden. In the 1980s, no performance horse filled more arena seats than the American Saddlebred Sky Watch. He pushed the saddle seat industry to a peak that hasn’t been seen since. An athlete through and through, the stallion dominated the sport with the same power and intensity as a Kentucky Derby winner. With unmatched talent, his career was one for the history books, earning four World Grand Championships and twelve World titles overall. Years after he finished competing, videos of Sky Watch’s legacy in the ring captured the heart of author Emma Hudelson. A lifelong horsewoman, her rediscovery of the unstoppable stallion sent her on a journey to discover how a horse becomes a legend. If she can capture the magic behind the greatest show horse of all time, maybe she can understand her own obsession with Saddlebreds.

Sky Watch: Chasing an American Saddlebred Story is the tale of not only a remarkable horse, but of the American Saddlebred breed and the way these horses carried one rider back to herself. Tracking the path of Sky Watch’s success, Hudelson’s book is a deeply personal homage to one of the sport’s greatest show horses and the indelible impression he left on the breed and in the hearts of those who loved him.

Shiflet Skywatch WCHS victory pass 1983_edited.jpg

Selected Work

When Riders Write

The Cincinnati Review, December 2022


Flying Island Journal, May 2020


Thin Air Magazine, March 2020


The Chattahoochee Review, December 2019


The Rumpus, March 2019


Print: The Nasiona, December 2018

Audio: The Nasiona Podcast, Episode 9: Daughterhood


805 Lit+Art, December 2018


Foglifter, November 2018

Nail Polish

Lost Balloon, August 2017



Linden Avenue, July 2017

Sometimes Smoothies and Yoga Aren't Enough

The Manifest-Station, January 2016

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