Everything You Need to Know About the Rocky Mountain Horse

Posted by Allie Layos
Top Ten Live

If you want the perfect pleasure horse, the Rocky Mountain Horse may be for you.  

Developed in Kentucky, the Rocky Mountain Horse "type" was seen as early as the 19th century, however, in the mid-20th century, a stallion named Tobe solidified the breed into what it is today; most modern day Rocky Mountain Horses can be traced back to Tobe's strong genetic line.

A relatively young breed, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association was only formed in 1986, but had over 12,000 registered horses by 2005.

Rocky Mountain Horses are known for their distinctive color and four-beat ambling gait known as the "single-foot," which replaces the trot seen in the majority of breeds. The single-foot is smooth and faster than a trot, allowing gaited horses to cover ground at up to sixteen miles per hour instead of eight miles per hour as trotting horses do.

READ MOREEverything You Need to Know About the Arabian Horse

Though they were originally bred as a multi-purpose horse breed, used for riding, driving, and light draft work, today they are used primarily for trail rides or pleasure riding, and working cattle. They are ridden both English and Western and are generally easy keepers. Their amiable personalities and athletic natures make this American breed a desired companion.

Hover over the image for more information on breed characteristics. 

General Appearance

Rocky Mountain Horses are a solid color, have medium sized bones and feet, and stand 14.2 - 16 hands tall.


The chest of a Rocky Mountain Horse should be broad, with a space between the forelegs. They have a sloping shoulder, with an ideal angle of 45 degrees, and a gracefully arched neck that is medium in length and set on an angle to allow for natural carriage with a break at the poll.


While any solid color is accepted in the Rocky Mountain Horse Association registry, the preferred color is a dark brown color known as "chocolate," with a flaxen mane and tail. This coloration is the result of a relatively rare silver dapping gene acting on a black coat. There must be no white markings above the horse's knee or hock, except for minimal white facial markings. "Bald faced" horses are not accepted.


A Rocky Mountain Horse should have bold eyes, shapely ears, and a straight profile that is neither dished nor protruding. The head should be medium in size and with medium jaws.


Rocky Mountain Horses are known for being people-friendly, curious and very rideable horses for all skill levels. When startled, they tend to stop rather than bolt, and have a special ability to adapt to the skill level of their rider.


Rocky Mountain Horses have the highest risk of any breed for the genetic ocular syndrome multiple congenital ocular anomalies. MCOA is characterized by the abnormal development of ocular tissues, causing compromised vision. Genetic studies have shown that the disorder may be linked to the silver dapple gene.

Body image: Golden Dreams Riding

WATCH NOW: Endo the Blind Horse Is an Inspiration

oembed rumble video here

recommended for you

Everything You Need to Know About the Rocky Mountain Horse