The American Saddlebred Horse – An Original Creation

american saddlebred horse

Let’s quickly detour back to the 1800s…

As the construction of public roads began in the East of America (particularly around the areas of New York and Philadelphia), the breeding of saddle horses became essential for travel and the livelihood of communities. However, saddle horses also provided a great means of transportation to rugged areas such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia where roads were few and far between. The Saddlebred horse has great endurance and ambling gates making them a great companion for riding over plantations and going on long journeys. 
In fact, the origin of the American Saddlebred can be traced back to the settlement of plantations in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. These southern pioneers selected and imported ambling types of horses from Canada and the New England states. The Saddlebred is now believed to be a unique breed of horse with links to the Canadian Pacer, Thoroughbred, Morgan horse bloodlines. The American people needed a reliable horse, one that could travel long distances without distress to either the horse or the rider. The Saddlebred provided that and more, it has beauty, speed, tractability, intelligence, courage, endurance and versatility (they are also great in and out of the harness).

10 Facts About the Americacn Saddlebred Horse 

1. They’re the oldest American breed of horse – In 1891 the American Saddlebred Horse Association was founded, it is the oldest breed registry in the United States. 

2. They Perfect Companion Horses – American Saddlebred tend to be happy and healthy horses that work well into their teens. 

3. The are an athletic breed – These horses have a lot of vigour and excell at both jump and dressage equestrian events 

4. They make good matches with other breeds – Saddlebreds are often crossed with Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Dutch Harness Horses, Friesians, Morgans and Quarter Horses 

5. They used to be called ‘Kentucky Saddlers’ – These horses are direct ancestors to the modern American Saddlebred that were favoured during the American Civil War.

6. They are gaited horses – American Saddlebreds are five-gaited menaing they can perform both a trot and an ambling gait 

7.  They are a true pleasure horse – Their temperaments are often compared to cats; energetic and curious. 

8. They are a highly intelligent breed – American Saddlebreds are known for their desire to be trained and top learn new things. They are intelligent, inquisitive and known to be quick to respond to your aids.

9. They played akey role in the American Civil war – American Saddlebred were the prized battle horses of famous army generals

10. Any colour is accepted in the Saddlebred breed – Black, brown, chestnut and bay are the most common colours for the American Saddlebred. However, Roan, gray and Palomino coats are also found in this breed. 

Fun fact About the American Saddlebred: For years the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia have produced a greater number of equestrians compared to other states.

Eventually, these southern plantation owners produced a beautiful horse that was the perfect companion for both work and leisure – the Saddlebred Horse. However, the Saddlebred was not recognised as a breed until many years later. In fact, the first record of an American Saddlebred Horse was a foal known as Denmark in 1839. It is Denmark’s offspring – the Stevenson mare – that is credited for the unique genetic basis of the Saddlebred and their descendants. 

American Saddlebred Horse Characteristics

Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of the Saddlebred horse is their flawless riding style. 

But in terms of appearance – here’s how to identify a Saddlebred: 

  • They are usually bay, brown, chestnut, grey, black, or golden 
  • Stand between 15 to 16 hands in height 
  • Weigh from 1,000 to 1,200 pounds
  • Beautiful head carried on a long graceful neck
  • Short rounded back
  • Level croup
  • High-set tail and proud action
  • Short neck 
  • High gate. 

These unique horses are without competition when it comes to style, spirit, intelligence and character.

Adaptation and Use

The American Saddlebred Horse is now used almost exclusively as a three- or five-gaited saddle horse. Many of these Saddlebred’s are still used for business purposes, but now the majority are used as pleasure horses—either on the bridle paths or in the show-ring. Although the Saddlebred horse as not always achieved great success on the track, they are known as tough competitors and compete with unusual stamina and gameness

Harness show horses come from the American Saddlebred Horse, it’s believed that horses of this breed meet the demand for combination horses better than any other group. Now the American Saddlebred Horse is mainly used as a stock horse, a jumper, and for other light horse purposes.


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