Exploring equine breeds: The American Saddlebred
Follow this series of articles to learn more about the variety of horse breeds available to horse enthusiasts!
The American Saddlebred, as it names suggests is a breed that originated in the U.S. The breed dates back to the late 1700s, at which time it was referred to as the “American Horse”. The breed was developed in Kentucky, but can now be found throughout the country. The American Saddlebred was influenced by the Narraganset Pacer, Morgan and Thoroughbred. Of all the foundation sires of the American Saddlebred, Denmark, foaled in 1839, was the most influential Thoroughbred sire to impact the breed. In the 1880s, breeders of this unique type of horse began to call for the formation of a breed association and registry. Charles F. Mills began compiling pedigrees and formulating rules for a registry. In 1891 the American Saddle-Horse Breeders’ Association was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Under the leadership of the first Association President, John B. Castleman, the objectives of collecting, recording and preserving the pedigrees of saddle horses in America began. As time went on and the registry grew in numbers of horses and members, the name American Saddle-Horse Breeders’ Association no longer reflected the expanding functions of the Association. Therefore, in1980 the registry’s name was changed to American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA). Today, there are approximately 7,000 active ASHA members, 50 ASHA Charter Clubs and 40 ASHA Youth Clubs.
According to Michigan State University Extension, the American Saddlebred is most recognized for its long, elegant neck, flat croup and high tail set. Most American Saddlebreds stand 15-to 16-hands-tall and are mainly of solid coat colors, such as black, brown, bay, gray or chestnut. Saddlebreds can also have a pinto coat pattern. These horses are well-known for their extreme animation and style. A unique quality of the American Saddlebred is its suitability for show and pleasure riding, along with the ability to travel three- or five-gaited.