Everything You Need to Know About the American Saddlebred Horse

Posted by Allie Layos
American Saddlebred Horse Portrait

The unique American Saddlebred is both beautiful and versatile.

The American Saddlebred originated in the southern United States during the country's early days, descended from the Narragansett Pacer and the Thoroughbred. It became a popular riding horse due to its intelligence and smooth gaits, therefore the mount of choice for many generals during the Civil War.

The first breed registry was formed in 1891, and the modern American Saddlebred is easy to spot with its long neck and natural high-stepping gait. Though not truly considered a gaited horse, in addition to the walk, trot, and canter, Saddlebreds are able to perform two extra gaits, the slow gait and rack.

Today the Saddlebred is known as the "peacock of the show ring," because it makes the ultimate show horse. Saddlebreds are most often used for saddle seat competition, competing in four primary divisions: Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited, Fine Harness and Pleasure. They also excel in dressage, eventing, show jumping, combined driving, and endurance, and make excellent trail horses.

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Saddlebreds have well-shaped heads with a straight profile, both head and eye suggesting refinement and intelligence.


American Saddlebreds come in almost all colors, including chestnut, bay, black, grey, palomino, and spotted.



Saddlebreds have well-defined withers, sloping shoulders and strong, level backs with well-sprung ribs. They are known for their long, arched, high-set necks, and their long, sloping pasterns give a spring to their stride, making them very comfortable to ride.

General Appearance

Saddlebreds can range in height from 14 to 17 hands and weigh 800-1,200 pounds.

Saddlebreds are happy, alert, curious, and extremely people-oriented, something that makes them endearing to their owners. They are both beautiful and versatile -- not only can they take on any task set before them, they will do so with their own special style.

In-body image: McAtee Saddlebreds

Do you have a Saddlebred? Show us in the comments below!

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Everything You Need to Know About the American Saddlebred Horse