The American Saddlebred is a horse breed from the United States. This breed was referred to as the "Horse America Made". Descended from riding-type horses bred at the time of the American Revolution, the American Saddlebred includes the Narragansett Pacer, Canadian Pacer, Morgan and Thoroughbred among its ancestors. Developed into its modern type in Kentucky, it was once known as the "Kentucky Saddler", and used extensively as an officer's mount in the American Civil War. In 1891, a breed registry was formed in the United States. Throughout the 20th century, the breed's popularity continued to grow in the United States, and exports began to South Africa and Great Britain. Since the formation of the US registry, almost 250,000 American Saddlebreds have been registered, and can now be found in countries around the world, with separate breed registries established in Great Britain, Australia, continental Europe, and southern Africa.
Averaging 15 to 16 hands (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm) in height, Saddlebreds are known for their sense of presence and style, as well as for their spirited, yet gentle, temperament. They may be of any color, including pinto patterns, which have been acknowledged in the breed since the late 1800s. They are considered a gaited breed, as some Saddlebreds are bred and trained to perform four-beat ambling gaits, one being a "slow gait" that historically was one of three possible ambling patterns, and the much faster rack. The breed does have a hereditary predisposition to lordosis, a curvature of the spine, as well as occupational predispositions to upper respiratory and lameness issues.
Since the mid-1800s, the breed has played a prominent part in the US horse show industry, and is called the "peacock of the horse world". They have attracted the attention of numerous celebrities, who have become breeders and exhibitors, and purebred and partbred American Saddlebreds have appeared in several films, especially during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Saddlebreds are mainly known for their performance in the show ring, but can also be seen in competition in several other English riding disciplines and combined driving, as well as being used as a pleasure riding horse. American Saddlebreds often compete in five primary divisions: Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited, Fine Harness, Park and Pleasure. In these divisions they are judged on performance, manners, presence, quality and conformation.
An American Saddlebred and rider in saddle seat tack and attire.
|Other names||Saddlebred, American Saddle Horse, American Saddler|
|Country of origin||United States (Kentucky)|
|Color||Any color permissible|
|Distinguishing features||High stepping with exaggerated action|
American Saddlebreds stand 15 to 17 hands (60 to 68 inches, 152 to 173 cm) high, averaging 15 to 16 hands (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm), and weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds (450 and 540 kg). Members of the breed have well-shaped heads with a straight profile, long, slim, arched necks, well-defined withers, sloping shoulders, correct leg conformation, and strong level backs with well-sprung ribs. The croup is level with a high-carried tail. Enthusiasts consider them to be spirited, yet gentle, animals. Any color is acceptable, but most common are chestnut, bay, brown and black. Some are gray, roan, palomino and pinto. The first-known pinto Saddlebred was a stallion foaled in 1882. In 1884 and 1891, two additional pintos, both mares, were foaled. These three horses were recorded as "spotted", but many other pinto Saddlebreds with minimal markings were recorded only by their base color, without making note of their markings. This practice continued into the 1930s, at which time breeders came to be more accepting of "colored" horses and began recording markings and registering horses as pinto. The Saddlebred has been called the "world's most beautiful horse" by admirers, and is known as the "peacock of the horse world". The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) describes the Saddlebred as follows: "He carries himself with an attitude that is elusive of description—some call it "class", presence, quality, style, or charm. This superior air distinguishes his every movement."
Saddlebreds are popularly known as show horses, with horses being shown saddle seat in both three-gaited and five-gaited classes. The former are the three common gaits seen in most breeds, the walk, trot and canter. The latter includes the three regular gaits, plus two four-beat ambling gaits known as the slow gait and the rack. The slow gait today is a four-beat gait in which the lateral pairs of legs leave the ground together, but strike the ground at different times, the hind foot connecting slightly before the forefoot. In the show ring, the gait should be performed with restraint and precision. The rack is also a four-beat gait, but with equal intervals between each footfall, making it a smooth gait to ride. In the show ring, the gait is performed with speed and action, appearing unrestrained. Historically, the slow gait could be either a running walk, the stepping pace, or the fox trot, however, the modern five-gaited Saddlebred usually performs the stepping pace.
Lordosis, also known as swayback, low back or soft back, has been found to have a hereditary basis in Saddlebreds and a recessive mode of inheritance. The precise mutation has not yet been located, but researchers believe it to be somewhere on horse chromosome 20. Researching this condition may help more than just the Saddlebred breed as it may "serve as a model for investigating congenital skeletal deformities in horses and other species." Due to the head position common in the show ring, Saddlebreds can have impairments to the upper respiratory system, while the shoeing and movement required of the horses can cause leg and hoof injuries and increased lameness. A swayback is penalized as a fault at shows, in addition to other conformation flaws.
The Saddlebred has origins in the Galloway and Hobby horses of the British Isles, animals sometimes called palfreys, which had ambling gaits and were brought to the United States by early settlers. These animals were further refined in America to become a now-extinct breed called the Narragansett Pacer,  a riding and driving breed known for its ambling and pacing gaits. When colonists imported Thoroughbreds to America, beginning in 1706, they were crossed with the Narragansett Pacer, which, combined with massive exports, ultimately led to the extinction of the Narragansett as a purebred breed. To preserve important bloodlines, Canadian Pacers were introduced instead. By the time of the American Revolution, a distinct type of riding horse had developed with the size and quality of the Thoroughbred, but the ambling gaits and stamina of the Pacer breeds. This animal was called the American Horse. Its existence was first documented in a 1776 letter when an American diplomat wrote to the Continental Congress asking for one to be sent to France as a gift for Marie Antoinette.
Other breeds which played a role in the development of the Saddlebred in the 19th century include the Morgan, Standardbred and Hackney. The Canadian Pacer had a particularly significant impact. The breed, originally of French origin, was also influential in the development of the Standardbred and Tennessee Walking Horse. The most influential Canadian Pacer on Saddlebred lines was Tom Hall, a blue roan stallion foaled in 1806. After being imported to the United States from Canada, he was registered as an American Saddlebred and became the foundation stallion of several Saddlebred lines.
The American Horse was further refined in Kentucky, where the addition of more Thoroughbred blood created a taller and better-looking horse that became known as the Kentucky Saddler. There were originally seventeen foundation stallions listed by the breed registry, but by 1908 the registry decided to list only one and the remainder were identified as "Noted Deceased Sires." Today, two foundation sires of the breed are recognized, both Thoroughbred crosses. The first was Denmark, son of an imported Thoroughbred, who for many years was the only recognized foundation stallion. His son, Gaines' Denmark, was in the pedigrees of over 60 percent of the horses registered in the first three volumes of the breed's studbook. A second foundation sire was recognized in 1991, Harrison Chief. This sire was a descendent of the Thoroughbred Messenger, who is also considered a foundation stallion for the Standardbred breed.
During the American Civil War, American Saddlebreds were commonly used by the military, and known for their bravery and endurance. Many officers used them as mounts, and included in their numbers are General Lee's Traveller, General Grant's Cincinnati, General Sherman's Lexington, and General Jackson's Little Sorrell. Other generals who used them during the conflict include John Hunt Morgan and Basil W. Duke during his time with Morgan's Raiders. Kentucky Saddlers were used during brutal marches with the latter group, and the historical record suggests that they held up better than horses of other breeds.
The American Saddlebred Horse Association was formed in 1891, then called the National Saddle Horse Breeders Association (NSHBA). Private individuals had produced studbooks for other breeds, such as the Morgan, as early as 1857, but the NSHBA was the first national association for an American-developed breed of horse. A member of Morgan's Raiders, General John Breckinridge Castleman, was instrumental in forming the NSHBA. In 1899, the organization name was changed to the American Saddle Horse Breeders Association, clarifying the breed's name as the "American Saddle Horse," not simply "Saddle Horse."
After World War I, the American Saddlebred began to be exported to South Africa, and it is now the most popular non-racing breed in that country. Saddlebred horse show standards continued to evolve through the 1920s, as the popularity of the breed grew. The Saddlebred industry slowed during World War II, but began to grow again post-war, with Mexico, Missouri earning the title "Saddle Horse Capital of the World". Exports continued, and though attempts to begin a South African breed registry had started in 1935, it was not until 1949 that the Saddle Horse Breeders' Society of South Africa was formed. The 1950s saw continued growth of the Saddlebred breed, and The Lemon Drop Kid, a fine harness horse, became the first, and only, Saddlebred to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In the late 1950s, the Saddle Horse Capital became centered in Shelby County, Kentucky, largely due to the success of breeders Charles and Helen Crabtree, the latter a renowned equitation coach. Although individual Saddlebreds had been exported to Great Britain throughout the breed's history, the first breeding groups were transported there in 1966. For the next three decades, enthusiasts worked to establish a breeding and showing platform for the breed in the UK.
In 1980, the name of the American Saddle Horse Breeder's Association was changed to the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA), membership was opened to non-breeders, and the group began to focus on breed promotion. In 1985, the ASHA became the first breed registry to have their headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. A decade later, in 1995, the United Saddlebred Association – UK was formed to register Saddlebreds in Great Britain, and acts as the British affiliate of the ASHA. Since the founding of the American registry, almost 250,000 horses have been accepted, with almost 3,000 new foals registered annually. It is the oldest still-functioning breed registry in the US. Most common in the eastern US, the breed is also found throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and in South Africa.
Located at the Kentucky Horse Park is the American Saddlebred Museum, which curates a large collection of Saddlebred-related items and artwork, as well as a 2,500-volume library of breed-related works. There are many magazines which focus on the American Saddlebred: "Show Horse Magazine", "Bluegrass Horseman", "The National Horseman", "Saddle and Bridle", and "Show Horse International".
As a show horse, Saddlebreds were exhibited in Kentucky as early as 1816, and were a prominent part of the first national horse show in the United States, held at the St. Louis Fair in 1856. The Kentucky State Fair began running a World Championship show in 1917, offering a $10,000 prize for the champion five-gaited horse. Also in 1917, the American Horse Shows Association, now the United States Equestrian Federation, formed and began to standardize show formats and rules. In 1957, the American Saddlebred Pleasure Horse Association was formed to regulate English pleasure classes. Today, the most prestigious award in the breed industry is the American Saddlebred "Triple Crown": winning the five-gaited championships at the Lexington Junior League Horse Show, the Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show, and American Royal horse show; a feat that has only been accomplished by six horses.
The breed's show history also paralleled major historical developments. Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who owned and exhibited Saddlebreds into the 1940s, organized the first "All-Negro" horse show in Utica, Michigan, allowing greater opportunities for African-American people to exhibit horses at a time when there was significant racial segregation in the United States. Gas shortages in the 1970s and 1980s put pressure on the recreational dollar, and saw the growth of single breed shows at the expense of the multi-breed traditional horse show. At the beginning of the 21st century, the number of women showing Saddlebreds increased, with female competitors winning several world championships.
Today, the Saddlebred is exhibited in the United States in multiple divisions, including assorted in-hand classes; ridden in saddle seat classes for three- and five-gaited horses in both Park and pleasure classes, hunter country pleasure, and western pleasure; plus pleasure driving, fine harness, roadster harness classes. In five-gaited competition, they are shown with a full tail, often augmented with an artificial switch, and a full mane. Three-gaited horses are shown with a shaved off "roached" mane and with the hair at the top of their tails, an area called the dock, trimmed short. While use of a set tail in certain types of competition was common, today, tailsets are generally not allowed on the show grounds, except for horses in the Park Pleasure division, and horses with unset tails are not penalized in any division. Gingering is prohibited.
Outside of breed-specific shows, the Saddlebred is also promoted as suitable for competitive trail riding, endurance riding, dressage, combined driving, eventing, and show jumping. Some Saddlebreds are also suitable for fox hunting, cutting and roping. Because they are so closely affiliated with their traditional show ring competition, they are sometimes mistaken for warmbloods or Thoroughbred crosses when participating in other equine events. They are also suitable family horses used for trail and pleasure riding and ranch work.
Many film and television horses of the Golden Age of Hollywood were also Saddlebreds, including the horses used in lead roles in My Friend Flicka, National Velvet, Fury and one version of Black Beauty. A half-Saddlebred played the lead role in the TV series Mr. Ed, and a Saddlebred was used in a prominent role in Giant. In the 1990s, William Shatner, an actor and Saddlebred breeder, rode one of his own horses, a mare named Great Belles of Fire, in his role as James T. Kirk in Star Trek Generations. Numerous other celebrities have been owners and exhibitors of the breed, including William Shatner, Clark Gable, Will Rogers, Joe Louis, and Carson Kressley.
The American Saddlebred Horse Association (abbreviated ASHA) is the oldest horse breed registry for an American breed in the United States. It was founded in 1891 and is headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.Denmark (horse)
Denmark (foaled 1839) was a major foundation sire of the American Saddlebred horse breed. Over 60% of all the horses in the first three volumes of the Saddlebred studbook trace back to him. Denmark sired the stallion Gaines' Denmark, himself an influential sire.Donna Moore (horse trainer)
Donna Moore (1931-2014) was an American Saddlebred horse trainer. She trained horses for William Shatner at his Belle Reve Farm, and owned her own stables near Versailles, Kentucky.Earl Teater
Earl Teater (1905/06-1972) was an American Saddlebred horse trainer. He was best known for showing the stallion Wing Commander to six World's Grand Championships, although he later won another World's Grand Championship on Waltz Dream.Fine harness
Fine harness is a type of driving competition seen at horse shows, that feature light, refined horses with high action. Popular breeds in this event include the American Saddlebred, Morgan, Arabian, Dutch Harness Horse, and Hackney (horse).
Some breeds of pony are also shown in the fine harness style. These include the Hackney Pony, Welsh pony, and the American-type Shetland Pony.
The harness used is a light, breastplate type without a horse collar. The cart used is generally a light, four-wheeled design. Drivers wear formal attire.Five-gaited
Five-gaited horses are notable for their ability to perform five distinct horse gaits instead of simply the three gaits, walk, trot and canter or gallop common to most horses. Individual animals with this ability are often seen in the American Saddlebred horse breed, though the Icelandic horse also has five-gaited individuals, though with a different set of gaits than the Saddlebred.
The ability to perform an ambling gait or to pace appears to be due to a specific genetic mutation. Some horses are able to both trot and perform an ambling gait, but many can only do one or the other, thus five-gaited ability is not particularly common in the horse world.
In the American Saddlebred and related breeds, the five gaits performed are the walk, trot, canter, and two ambling gaits: the rack, a fast, lateral, four-beat gait that is synchronous— "each foot meets the ground at equal, separate intervals"; and a "slow gait", a slower, smooth collected four-beat gait that is asynchronous — "the lateral front and hind feet start almost together but the hind foot contacts the ground slightly before its lateral forefoot." Another name for the slow gait is the stepping pace. The USEF is clear that the slow gait is not merely a slow version of the rack, but the primary difference between the two is the slight hesitation between the second and third beats of the slow gait. A five-gaited horse might also perform the fox trot rather than the stepping pace.
In the Icelandic horse, the five gaits are the walk, trot, canter, tölt and the skeið, or flying pace. The tölt is a lateral four-beat gait compared to the rack of the Saddlebred, but in style of performance sometimes more closely resembles the largo of the Paso Fino, or the running walk of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Like all lateral ambling gaits, the footfall pattern is the same as the walk (left hind, left front, right hind, right front), but differs from the walk in that it can be performed at a range of speeds, from the speed of a typical fast walk up to the speed of a normal canter. Some Icelandic horses prefer to tölt, while others prefer to trot. The flying pace is a two-beat lateral gait, with a moment of suspension between the two sets of footfalls At racing speeds, horses can perform the flying pace at speeds close to 30 mph. Icelandics that can perform the tölt but not the flying pace are called "four-gaited."Other gaited horse breeds may be able to perform five gaits, and individual horses of breeds not normally noted for possessing ambling gaits may also do so. Examples of these include the part-Saddlebred National Show Horse, the Arabian horse, the Morgan, and the Morab.Gaines' Denmark
Gaines' Denmark (foaled 1851) was one of the most influential stallions in the development of the American Saddlebred.Harrison Chief
Harrison Chief was an American Saddlebred stallion, who was chosen as the second foundation sire of his breed.Helen Crabtree
Helen Crabtree (December 14, 1915 – January 4, 2002) was an equitation coach in the discipline of saddle seat riding as well as a breeder and trainer of American Saddlebred horses. In 1970, she authored the book Saddle Seat Equitation which remains a primary guide for equitation riders. Crabtree Stables, which she ran with her husband Charles and son Redd, produced 75 World Champion American Saddlebred horses and 22 winners of the National Equitation Championships.List of gaited horse breeds
Gaited horses are horse breeds that have selective breeding for natural gaited tendencies, that is, the ability to perform one of the smooth-to-ride, intermediate speed, four-beat horse gaits, collectively referred to as ambling gaits.Such breeds include the following:
Florida Cracker Horse
Missouri Fox Trotter
North American Single-Footing Horse
Rocky Mountain Horse
Spotted Saddle Horse
Tennessee Walking Horse
WalkaloosaIn most "gaited" breeds, an ambling gait is a hereditary trait. This mutation may be a dominant gene, in that even one copy of the mutated allele will produce gaitedness. However, some representatives of these breeds may not always gait. Conversely, some naturally trotting breeds not listed above may have ambling or "gaited" ability, particularly with specialized training. Many horses can both trot and amble, and some horses pace in addition to the amble, instead of trotting. However, pacing in gaited horses is often, though not always, discouraged, though the gene that produces gaitedness appears to also produce pacing ability. Some horses do not naturally trot or pace easily, they prefer their ambling gait for their standard intermediate speed. A mutation on the gene DMRT3, which controls the spinal neurological circuits related to limb movement and motion, causes a "premature 'stop codon'" in horses with lateral ambling gaits.Mary Gaylord McClean
Mary Gaylord McClean (born 1950/51) is an American horse breeder, horse owner and exhibitor, businesswoman and philanthropist. McClean owns and shows American Saddlebred horses and Hackney ponies, on which she has won multiple Championships. Many of her philanthropic ventures are horse-related.Narragansett Pacer
The Narragansett Pacer was the first horse breed developed in the United States, but is now extinct. It was developed in the United States during the 18th century and associated closely with the state of Rhode Island, and it had become extinct by the late 19th century. The Pacer was developed from a mix of English and Spanish breeds, although the exact cross is unknown, and they were known to and owned by many famous personages of the day, including George Washington. Sales to the Caribbean and cross-breeding diminished the breed to the point of extinction, and the last known Pacer died around 1880.
The Narragansett was possibly an ambling horse, rather than a true pacing breed. It was known as a sure-footed, dependable breed, although not flashy or always good-looking. Pacers were used for racing and general riding. They were frequently crossed with other breeds, and provided the foundation for several other American breeds, including the American Saddlebred, Standardbred and Tennessee Walking Horse.National Show Horse
The National Show Horse (NSH) originated as a part-Arabian cross between an American Saddlebred and an Arabian horse. It is now established as a separate breed, since the founding of a breed registry in August 1981. Registered animals today may be the offspring of registered NSH parents or may be a combination between an American Saddlebred, Arabian, and a National Show Horse. Non-NSH mares and stallions must be registered with their appropriate registries, and stallions who are Arabian or Saddlebred must additionally be nominated and approved by the NSHR board of directors. Although any combination of these three breeds may be used, as of December 1, 2009 there must be at least 50% Arabian blood in the horse to be registered, up to 99% Arabian blood (formerly 25% minimum Arabian blood was required for registry).Redd Crabtree
Redd Crabtree (1935-2015) was an American Saddlebred horse trainer. Crabtree, the son of notable Saddlebred trainers and saddle seat riding teachers Helen and Charles Crabtree, who owned Crabtree Stables, won three Five-Gaited World's Grand Championships and multiple World's Championships in the World's Championship Horse Show. He was president of the United Professional Horsemens Association, vice president and a director of the American Saddlebred Horse Association and was inducted into three Halls of Fame. Redd Crabtree died on January 19, 2015.Saddle seat
Saddle Seat is a style of horseback riding within the category of English riding that is designed to show off the high action of certain horse breeds. The style developed into its modern form in the United States, and is also seen in Canada and South Africa. To a much lesser extent, it is ridden with American action horse breeds in Europe and Australia. The horse breeds mainly used for this flashy style are typically the showy Morgan Horse, and the high stepping American Saddlebred.
The goal of the saddle seat riding style is to show off the horse's extravagant gaits, particularly the trot. In the United States, there sometimes is confusion between saddle seat and hunt seat disciplines among individuals who are neither familiar with different styles of English saddle nor the substantial differences in rider position and attire between the disciplines.Saddler
Saddler or Saddlers may refer to:
A type horse as in Kentucky Saddler, known for high headed beauty and unique way of moving. See American Saddlebred.
The occupation of making saddles
R-16, NATO reporting name SS-7 Saddler
Osmund Saddler, character in Resident Evil 4
Saddlers, a town in Saint John Capesterre Parish, Saint Kitts and Nevis
"The Saddlers", a nickname for Walsall Football Club, based in Walsall, West MidlandsSally Haydon
Sally Haydon (February 10, 1959 – April 13, 2014) was an American professor of equine science and a trainer of American Saddlebred horses and riders. She was Chair of the Equine Studies department at Midway College in Midway, Kentucky, president and founder of the Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association (ISSRA), and the Owner/Director of Educational Programs at the Bluegrass Riding Academy. Haydon worked several years teaching saddle seat equitation with renowned trainer and author Helen Crabtree, and she was also a former board member of The Cleveland Home (at Cleveland House).Tom Bass (horse trainer)
Tom Bass (January 5, 1859 – November 4, 1934) was an American Saddlebred horse trainer. Bass was born into slavery, but became one of the most popular horse trainers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bass trained the influential Saddlebred stallion Rex McDonald, as well as horses owned by Buffalo Bill Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, and Will Rogers.