Species group: Gaited horses
Other common names: American Saddler; ASB
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
"I called her Mama. She was a gift from a man whose other horses were starving her to death because he couldn't separate her at feeding time. I had no idea what her bloodline was when I got her but when he handed me the papers and I looked into them, I was stunned. She was an equitation stakes horse and a winner on the A circuit in her day. Now she was a pensioner and so bony a hat would stick anywhere it landed on her. <br>Worse, she had a uterine infection from her thinness. No vet would even try to clean her out so I did it - on a November day in the Northern tier states. I used castile soap and warm water, a ton of rags and sponges, and when I finished, I had to clean up in cccold water and burn my clothes. But she was clean inside.. <br>I had had her on a flushing diet for over 2 months at that point, so she had fattened. I kept her on that diet the entire winter, and she gained weight like mad. <br>I also floated her teeth - she was not a happy camper, but she took it well.. <br>And in the spring, she came in heat. Did she ever. Tail over one hip, she sauntered around flirting with every gelding around - there being no stallions on the place. I decided to breed her. <br>After searching 6 states, I found the right stallion a mile down the road! I rode her down there and asked the man to breed her on the third day of her heat for sure, he did, and she 'took'. 9 months later, every vet in the area owed me a case of pop, because they had all bet me she wouldn't come in heat, take, carry to term or give me a foal.. and she did. "Little Man" - Chance's Bit O Bourbon. A man showed up in the pasture to offer me a blank check for him when he was less than 24 hours old! But I told him I could never afford to buy a horse of this quality, and since I already had one, I wouldn't sell him. Not good business, but great horse sense.. <br> Mama had no cutting horse training, but she cut cattle naturally and she was good at it. I don't know if she ever had any hunter/jumper training, but she did that well, too, up to about 4 feet, which is a big jump for a horse, let alone an old horse. You could rope off her and she knew how to work a rope. She was a fun trail horse so long as you didn't trot - she had a trot like bricks falling off a roof. Ouch! The only thing I ever found her to hesitate at was anything white that flapped. Laundry on a line, for example, would make her stop & stare, then she would sidle past it, never taking her eyes off it. <br> She was smart, no doubt of that. She watched me and the man I was married to open the feed room door and she figure out that the knob only turned 1 way.. so much for the myth that horses can't work round doorknobs! He saw her take the knob in her mouth, turn her head the correct way, and open the door. <br> Then she went in and had a snack. After that, she went up the hill and called the other horses and let them in the feed room 1 at a time until she felt each had had enough, then she would bit them on the rump & run them out & let the next 1 in! Eventually, my man said, "Mama.." She gasped! Sucked in her stomach so she looked gaunt! Hung her head and looked pitiful! What an actor! <br> He laughed, petted her, then got tools & a chain with a snap hook & made the feed room door "Mama proof". <br> She loved to have her back scratched and she would come to the house & knock at the door with her hoof until someone went & scratched her hoof. She never damaged the door. <br> After the feed room incident, she figured out if we wouldn't come to her, she'd come to us to get her back scratched. I was cleaning upstairs one day and heard what I thought were heavy boots on the stairs. I went to tell my man something - and found Mama halfway up them! I had a scary thought about what would happen if she broke thru, but the house was solid.. Phew! I got her to back down by voice, and she did, then backed thru the dining room and the kitchen to the door, where I had to crawl between her legs to open the door, the house being narrow.. She never turned a hair (I did..) After that, we kept the door hooked. <br> She was about 27 when she had a stroke. She could eat but she couldn't coordinate, so we had the vet come and give her a shot. She & I hit the floor together and I cried for a week, and I don't cry easily. We dug a hole in the hillside - a huge job, especially by hand and with a Ford 8N tractor - and buried her there <br> Mama 'sold' me on Saddlebreds as a 'do-all' horse. <br> More stories will come from this.. Check back, yes?."
From Indn_Maid Aug 22 2015 3:50PM
"I am a professional horse trainer who has worked with a lot of quality horses over the years, mostly warm blood and thoroughbred shows hunters. But the horse that I will always name as my all time favorite was my very first horse who started it all. He was an American Saddlebred named Vic. Vic came to me as an 11 year old via Sugarcreek auction. A man outbid the kill buyer there to save him, and then needed a home for him. My 12 year old self was very surprised my mom decided to go ahead and buy him for me! Vic had ended up at the kill auction because he was burnt out from showing saddleseat, and his evasion was rearing. I discovered he loved jumping, so we learned to jump together and he became a different horse. I have found Saddlebreds to be very smart, just using them for one purpose is a disservice to a versatile breed. Vic and I enjoyed jumping, barrel racing, trail riding, and dressage among many other things. There was nothing this smart horse was not game to try! He was an "old soul" who charmed every person he met. He was never lame, was always healthy and had great feet (usually went barefoot) until I lost him at the age of 30 to a bad choke. If you are looking for a comfortable bareback horse, trail horse, and versatile companion who has some "get up and go" I highly recommend the American Saddlebred. Rescuing one truly changed my life, and I still miss him every day!."
From Jenny Mar 24 2017 2:08PM
"I lived on a farm from when I was born, till I was 13. We had many kinds of animals, but mostly horses. We had 5 horses, one of which was my sisters. We mostly rode on that one, Khokay was his name. He was a beautiful American Saddlebred, very sweet and calm. He moved beautifully, and was extremely protecting of us humans. When my parents divorced and they sold the farm, they sold all the animals as well. My sister was absolutely devastated that she had to find a new home for Khokay. She sold her to this loving family of four, that all loved horses and wanted one they could all ride. She was very happy about her decision, as it would've cost too much to have him at the local horse-riding school. A few months late the nice family from the countryside called her about Khokay. He died. What she didn't know was that they lived right next to a farmer, who's cornfield was right by Khokay's field. One day the farmer harvested all the corn, and laid it beside Khokay's field, without thinking about it. And Khokay being the food loving animal he was, ate almost all of it. That caused severe stomach infections and bloating. He died of eating too much. <br>Since then my sister haven't had any horses, that really destroyed her. She was so close with Khokay, and the rest of the family too. But he was an amazing horse and a fantastic jumper! ."
From Roselinn Sep 22 2015 12:02PM