American Saddlebred

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Species group:

Other common names: American Saddler; ASB

The basics:
With a preening arch of the neck, a high-stepping gait, and a long flowing tail, it’s not surprising that the American Saddlebred is known as the peacock of the horse world. Elegant and refined, they are also one of the flashiest breeds and their grace and showmanship make them the ultimate show horse.

The modern American Saddlebred finds its roots in 18th century Kentucky. Developed from the Canadian Pacer, Morgan, Thoroughbred, and the now-extinct Narragansett Pacer, the “Kentucky Saddler”, as it was once called, was popular among Southern plantation owners. During the American Civil War, the American Saddlebred carried military officers into battle, including prominent Civil War generals like Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. They were praised for their bravery and records suggest they fared better than other breeds on the long, brutal marches.

The American Saddlebred is a five-gaited horse - in addition to the walk, trot, and canter, they have a four-beat gait known as the slow gait, and a four-beat gait known as the rack. These signature high-stepping gaits come naturally to the breed, though they are usually trained for exaggerated movements in the show ring.

The American Saddlebred is most popularly used in the show ring, especially in the saddle seat Five-gaited, Park, and Pleasure classes. They also appear frequently in hunt seat pleasure, western pleasure, pleasure driving, fine harness, and roadster harness classes. This versatile breed can also be found competing in dressage, eventing, show jumping, competitive trail, and even endurance riding.

Appearance / health:
The American Saddlebred stands at 15 to 16 hands high with long, straight legs and a densely muscled body with a level back, well-sprung ribs, a high croup, and well-defined withers.  The neck is long, slim, and carried in an arch. The head is shapely and refined with wide-set eyes, close-set ears, and a straight profile. The American Saddlebred carries its tail high.

All colors are acceptable in the American Saddlebred, including pinto, roan, and palomino. The most common colors are bay, brown, chestnut, and black.

The American Saddlebred is more prone to hereditary lordosis, or swayback, than other breeds. In addition, the preferred position of the head in the show ring, neck arched with head up, can cause upper respiratory impairment.

Behavior / temperament:
The American Saddlebred is a horse of dignity, class, and charm. This people-loving breed is spirited but gentle, with an alert curiosity tempered by a willing attitude.  Though the American Saddlebred may appear fiery in the ring, they are generally level-headed.


easy-gaited riding horses, versatility, traditional western horsemanship, intelligent, animated


certain conformational issues


Dressage prospects class, Competitive Trail rides, best parade mount, distance endurance ride

Helpful Breed Review

American Saddlebred

From Aug 22 2015 3:50PM


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