The Saddlebred Breed

Saddlebred Breed Description

Height 15 to 16 hands high
Weight 1000 to 1200 pounds
Colour Bay, chestnut, black, grey, and occasionally roan and palomino
Head and Neck The head is small, well-shaped and refined. The ears are small and alert. The eyes are large and set well apart. The muzzle is good, with wide nostrils. The neck is long and nicely arched, with a fine, small throttle.
Body The Saddlebred has sharp withers, sloping shoulders and a short back. The croup is level, and the hindquarters are well muscled.
Tail The Saddlebred boasts a high tail carriage.
Limbs The legs are straight, with long, sloping pasterns.
Hooves The hooves are sound, and open at the heels.
Temperament The Saddlebred is intelligent, gentle and quiet.
Action The three-gaited Saddlebred exhibits: 1) a slow, springy, four beat walk; 2) a high action trot; and 3) a slow, smooth, rhythmic canter. The five-gaited Saddlebred, in addition to the walk, trot and canter, also exhibits the rack and the slow gait. The rack is an elegant, high stepping, four beat movement with a hesitation of each foot in mid-air. This produces a superb, flashy prancing action, even up to 30 mph at a gallop. The rack is free of any lateral motion or pacing. The slow gait is a slower and more graceful version of the rack.

Saddlebred Breed History

The Saddlebred was developed by settlers in the southern states of the U.S.A. during the early 19th century. The Saddlebred has Thoroughbred, Morgan and Narragansett Pacer blood in its veins. Careful crossbreeding of these three breeds produced a versatile and useful horse. In the early days, the Saddlebred was used to pull a plough, act as a carriage horse, and carry riders on crop-inspection tours over rough terrain.

The Saddlebred was initially known as the Kentucky Saddler, as it was largely in Kentucky that the breed was developed. In 1891, the American Saddle Horse Breeders’ Association was created, and a Saddle Horse Registry was set up in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Saddlebred is no longer needed as a carriage and farm horse, but has become popular as a very comfortable riding horse and as a show horse. The breed is intelligent and quick to learn, making it easy to train for the show ring. Saddlebreds are shown as three gaited or five gaited riding horses, and in harness.

The very qualities that make the Saddlebred successful in the show ring also make it useful in ranch work. Its intelligence, blance, speed and willing disposition make the Saddlebred suitable for working with cattle. Its quiet and gentle nature make it a good, safe mount for children.

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