Local Arabian breeder nominated for 2018 Breeder of the Year award

A Fincastle-based farm’s breeding program has been in the national spotlight. Wiloma Plantation  was nominated for the 2018 Breeder of the Year award by the Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman’s Association.

“We think we have a breeding program that will keep getting better,” David Bandy told the Fincastle Herald recently.

The Bandys have been breeding horses for more than 40 years. The farm normally has three stallions and about 15 to 20 mares. Each year, they raise between five to eight foals. Besides Arabians, the farm also breeds Hackneys and Saddlebreds and outcrosses.

Recently, several of the Bandys’ horses have seen success at shows. The horses include: WP Corporate Image, WP Imperator Furiosa, WP Gold Boom, WP Corporate America, and WP Fashionista.


According to the Wiloma Plantation website, their breeding program “is based on a careful blending of Crabbet and Polish Arabians to produce maximum motion at the trot along with extreme length of neck combined with flexion at the poll. In addition, Hackney horse bloodlines through the Halstead and King horses, Hackney Pony blood through Heartland and Dun Haven lines, Dutch Harness Horses from the Ritsma Breeding Program, and Saddlebred horses whose bloodlines trace back to Wing Commander, Sultan’s Santana, and Oman’s Desdemona Denmark are being bred as purebreds, as well as being outcrossed on the Arabian horses. Utilizing these three programs will produce a blend of the best attributes of each breed resulting in the ultimate Half Arabian, as well as great purebred individuals in each breed.”



David and Cindy Bandy bought Wiloma Plantation in 1987. The farm of 130 acres features an 1842 house that is on both the Virginia and National Historic Registry.

David Bandy, a graduate of Virginia Tech, is president of Spectrum Designs,  which offers offering full-service architecture and engineering and is based in Roanoke. He previously served as the president of the Roanoke Valley Horse Show.

Their daughter Rachel, who graduated from Hollins University, has followed in her parents footsteps and is a horse show judge and exhibitor.

Georgian Grande breeders look to history for breed’s inspiration

Georgian Grande stallion

Gen. Robert E. Lee is one of the best known American generals in history. And many also know his horse, Traveller, who he rode into battle. Traveller was a big gray Saddlebred and a great example of the original Saddlebred breed, which were known as large, sensible horses with plenty of bone.

Saddlebreds were often used as cavalry horses during the Civil War. Originally named Jeff Davis, the big gray colt was born near the Blue Sulphur Springs, in what is now West Virginia. As a colt, he took the first prize at the Lewisburg, Virginia fairs in 1859 and 1860. He grew to stand 16 hands high and 1,100 pounds. Lee loved Traveller so much that he kept him after the war ended and the horse went with Lee to Washington College in Lexington, Va.. Both Lee and Traveller are now buried at the college.

Gen. Lee on Traveller

Today’s Saddlebreds have been bred to be much lighter and expressive with showy movement for the show ring. They are spirited show horses and have been called the “peacock of the horse world.”

 Now there is a movement to bring back the old breed type by breeding American Saddlebreds with draft horses or the Friesian.  Known as the Georgian Grande, these horses are becoming more popular for a variety of disciplines.

A modern American Saddlebred

The International Georgian Grande Horse Registry was founded in 1994. The IGGHR is a member of the United States Dressage Federation All Breeds Council and also a member of the American Horse Council. It is also fully  recognized by USDF and USEF as  participating breed and Georgian Grandes are eligible to compete for the USEF/ USDF / IGGHR All-Breeds Awards.

Breed standards require that he bloodlines must be a blend of the Saddlebred with Friesian, Clydesdale, Shire, Percheron, or Belgian, or Irish Draught; Registered Drum Horses and Gypsy Vanners (“aka” Gypsy horses”) are acceptable provided they are registered within their own breed and have proof of pedigree. The percentage of saddlebred can be up to 75 percent but never less than 25 percent.

Breeders of the Georgian Grande horses are trying to blend the best of the draft breeds calm temperaments with the beautiful movement of the Saddlebred. The breed is beginning to turn heads and can be found in many equestrian disciplines including jumping, dressage, trail riding and as carriage horses.

Georgian Grande