If You Don't Know the Saddlebred Horse, You Probably Should

Posted by Allie Layos

When you envision the American Saddlebred, you probably think of a fiery show horse. While this horse breed is right at home in many horse shows, it's much more versatile than many people realize. This special breed of horse makes a talented riding horse, and it's also naturally suited for driving, too.

The Saddlebred is an American breed, similar to the Morgan. It has a rich history and while many equestrians are embracing this American horse, it's still largely misunderstood. How much do you know about the Saddlebred?

History

The American Saddlebred horse originated in the United States during the country's earliest days. It was the mount of choice for many American Revolution and Civil War officers, and it is no exaggeration to say that the country was founded upon its back. According to the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA), General Sherman rode a Saddlebred named Lexington, while Stonewall Jackson's mount was a Saddlebred named Little Sorrel. General Lee rode a Saddlebred named Traveller, and Generals John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest only rode Kentucky Saddlers, never switching over to another breed. 

In recent years, however, Saddlebreds have gotten a bad rap. Many people don't even know about them, and if they do, they are mistaken for the Tennessee Walking Horse, and criticized for their "exaggerated" gaits.

But the Saddlebred's special movement flows naturally from its breeding, as does its intelligence and willing nature.

The Saddlebred was the officer's mount of choice for many reasons. Saddlebreds are comfortable, intelligent and willing to please; their impressive looks probably didn't hurt, either.

Characteristics

With long, high-set necks and tails, beautiful movement and regal air about them, Saddlebreds may be the most elegant horse breed, and are undeniably the most unique.

These gaited horses are comfortable to ride. Saddlebreds can be three-gaited or five-gaited, and while their show gaits are often thought to be exaggerated, the Saddlebred moves just as elegantly when turned loose in a field to play, arching its neck and picking its feet up higher than all other horses. It is the breed's natural conformation that allows for this movement.

Uses Today

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Because of its special mixture of intelligence, athletic ability and beauty, the Saddlebred is a versatile riding horse. Its beauty and spirit makes it well suited to the show ring as a saddle horse, competing in saddle seat, western, driving, jumping, eventing, and even dressage. It also makes an excellent trail horse due to its intelligence and smooth gaits. Its high-stepping action makes it a beautiful fine harness horse, but it's also an excellent pleasure horse.

Since the Saddlebred is not as common a breed as the Quarter Horse or Arabian, it may be harder to stumble upon, but when you meet one you will understand how easy it is to fall in love with these special equines.

Breeds like the Thoroughbred and Standardbred are plenty popular today, but the Saddlebred is an equally special breed. Saddlebreds may be different, but sometimes different is a good thing.

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If You Don't Know the Saddlebred Horse, You Probably Should