Name of breed: American Saddlebred
Country of origin: Kentucky, America
Breed origin: Initially known as the Kentucky Saddler, the American Saddlebred’s primary ancestry breed was the Narragansett Pacer from Rhode Island and was used as the traditional mount for the plantation owners who worked and owned the land. In the 19th Century, breeders crossed this principle breed with Morgans and Thoroughbreds to create the American Saddlebred using selective crosses.
One of the more important crosses was with the Thoroughbred sire ‘Grey Eagle’ whom most Saddlebreds can be traced back to! Other important sires included ‘Wagner’ and ‘Lexington’.
Distinguishing features: The most well-known characteristic of the American Saddlebred is its ability to have 5 gaits! They include not just the walk, trot and canter, but also a slow and full speed gait with a very high stepping action. Although this action is natural, the shoeing of the breed can make the high stepping more pronounced.
Other features of the breed that are quite unique to them include a very fine head with a high head carriage which makes them a show-stopping horse to watch. The tail is also another well-known characteristic as it can often be seen sitting high and flowing behind the horse.
Modern day American Saddlebred: The breed in its early days was used for farm work and harness but is now mostly used as a pleasure horse and for trail riding. You can also find the American Saddlebred in the show ring under saddle or harness and is still used as a harness horse as well as having success in three-day eventing.
Reference: The Horse Encyclopedia book
Image credit: Youtube, The American Saddlebred Museum, Pinterest, Wiloma