History of the American Saddlebred Horse
The foundations for the American Saddlebred were laid when
Galloway and Hobby Horses were brought to North America by
British Colonists. The Galloways and Hobbies were natural pacers;
small, hardy, and very comfortable to ride over tough terrain.
Through selective breeding, the Narraganset Pacer was developed
in Rhode Island of early America, and many of the best and
fastest found their way to Virginia and the rest of the colonies.
As the colonies became more settled, the need for the tough
Narraganset Pacer was diminished. The development of roads and
the need for carriage horses, not pacers was in favor. The
infusion of Thoroughbred blood was about to change the nature of
the saddle horse.
The first Thoroughbreds were imported in 1706. They had been
developed in England by crossing the Galloway and Hobby mares
with stallions from the Middle East. By 1776 an all-purpose
riding horse, commonly called the American Horse, was recognized
as a definite type. These animals retained the easy gaits and
stamina of the Narraganset Pacer with the addition of
Thoroughbred size and quality.
One Thoroughbred, Messenger, made a particular impact on the
American Horse. A gray standing at fifteen hands three inches, he
passed on trotting qualities to the American Horse, and is
considered to be the foundation sire of the Standardbred.
During the Revolutionary War, American cavalry decisively
defeated British regulars at King's Mountain, South Carolina.
These farmers and frontiersmen were mounted on American Horses.
American Horses accompanied pioneers west into Kentucky. These
animals became seed stock, making Kentucky a major horse
In the War of 1812, Kentuckians mounted on American Horses and
others from Michigan to Illinois joined the fight against the
British and their Indian allies.
After the War of 1812, the production of good Saddle Horses
became a priority in Kentucky. These animals played a major role
in the settlement of the upper Ohio Valley. They went south into
Tennessee and beyond, and across the Mississippi into Missouri.
Missouri rivaled Kentucky for the best Saddle Horses and
Missourians say, "If Kentucky made the Saddle Horse, then
Missouri made him better."
The American Saddlebred was started in Kentucky in 1832 and was
known as the Kentucky Saddler. It was used to carry plantation
owners around the fields and over long distances in comfort.
Saddlebreds are either three or five gaited. It is still shown
harness and can be used as a pleasure and trail horse. Despite
its versatility, the American Saddlebred Association still
describes it as "Americaís most misunderstood breeds" because of
the artificial way in which it is produced and itís image of a
cropped, high set tail, overlong hooves and the use of somewhat
dubious training aids. - American Saddlebred (gaitedhorse.com)
The American Saddle Horse gained fame as a breed during the Civil
War, 1861-1865. Saddlebreds served as the mounts of many famous
generals; Lee on Traveller, Grant on Cincinnati, Sherman rode
Lexington, and Stonewall Jackson's mount was Little Sorrell. The
three aforementioned horses were American type with close
Thoroughbred crosses, and the latter was of pacing stock.
American Saddlebreds have been successful in most equine
disciplines from cow horses to jumpers, dressage to carriage
horses. If conditioned and trained properly, Saddlebreds are
capable of almost any task they are asked to perform.....and they
do it with style.
Some stallions are great show horses; some are great sires of
sires and some are great sires of dams. But Wing Commander was
all of these rolled up into one incredible chestnut package. He
not only blew everyone away in the ring, he also revolutionized
the Saddlebred breed!
They are popular for pleasure, riding, driving, as a hunter or
jumper, parade horse, cow horse, as well as a show horse. The
natural gaits are the walk, trot, and canter, as well as the
learned gaits of slow gait and rack. They are a good size,
well-formed substantial feet, clean flat-boned legs, a short back
with smooth loin, a compact body deep through the heart and
barrel, ribbed close to the hips which should be well-muscled
with full quarters and high level croup and a big flowing tail
coming out high and carried straight. The neck should be medium
to long, nicely arched, fitting onto the head correctly with a
fine small throat latch. The neck should also fit properly into
a sloping shoulder. The withers should be prominent and not too
beefy. The breast should be wide, with the legs coming out of
the corners with plenty of width between them, and should be set
on the feet straight, and have true, straight, high smooth
action. The pasterns should be long with a spring action.
General Robert E. Lee had a Saddlebred named Traveller.
General Ulysses S. Grant and Stonewall Jackson also rode
Saddlebreds. When the American Civil War was over, breeders
began promoting the breed as a show horse, breeding for flash
and animation. Many film television horses were also Saddlebreds,
as Mr. Ed, Roy Rogers'
Trigger, and the Lone Ranger's Silver.
See also: The American Saddlebred Horse Breed
American Saddlebred Plush Stuffed Horses