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By Smith Northam

Last updated: 20th July 2023

American Saddlebred Horse


Smith Northam
Last updated: 20th July 2023

The American Saddlebred is one of the most famous and successful native horses of the United States. They have a long history, working as a war horse in the past, as well as a comfortable riding horse at present, with an excellent gait. Currently, the American Saddlebreds are mostly seen in many horse shows in the saddle seat style riding competitions, and also in many other contemporary disciplines.

American Saddlebred Horse Pictures

Quick Information

Other Names Saddlebred, American Saddle Horse, American Saddler
Behavioral Characteristics Lively, noble, willing, gentle, friendly, adaptable
Physical Traits The profile is large, robust, and stoutly-built, along with a compact body, a deep girth, finely-chiseled head, smooth and lean jawline, and a pair of expressive eyes set wide apart; the ears are sharp and beautifully shaped, while the neck is medium and arched, ending in a strong but short back; their legs are straight, clean, and flat-boned with finely-developed feet and a flowing, high-set tail
Coat Colors All colors, with chestnut, bay, brown and black being most common
Height/Size 15 to 17 hands (adult)
Weight 1,000 to 1,200 pounds
Common Uses Eventing, pleasure riding, dressage, endurance, show jumping
Health Problems Generally healthy
Type Saddle horse, Show horse, Sport horse, Riding horse, Work horse, War horse (past)
Blood Type Warm
Popular Traits Easy trainability (obedient), excellent gaits, multi-talented, durable, intelligent, beautiful
Feeding/Diet General horse diet including hay, grass, grains, etc.
Country of Origin USA
Associations and Registries Stud Book

Video: American Saddlebred in the Horse Farm

History and Development

It was during the 1700s that the American colonists first developed the Saddlebred by crossing the Thoroughbred with the Narragansett Pacer. Like it is familiar with many breeds from North America, the addition of the Thoroughbred gene was important in the lineage of the new Saddlebred horses so as to bring a considerable level of speed and refinement in them.

Soon after it originated, the horse proved to be a success and initially came to be known as the Kentucky Saddler after it was brought to Kentucky. Many of these new animals began to be used in the battlefield of the great Revolutionary War that took place in the century.

During the early 1800s, these new animals were employed to work for the plantations since they had an excellent balance and a comfortable gait. Later, the blood of the Morgan horses as well as the Thoroughbreds, again, were added in them in order to enhance the refinement and physical characteristics. It is this final genetic mixing that produced the modern day American Saddlebred horse.

During the historic Civil War in America, the active and dedicated service gained them more and more fame, acclaiming them as an independent breed, while many of the then famous army generals used these horses in the battle. As the Civil War was over, the proud owners of the Saddlebreds began entering the horse shows with their handsome pets.

After the World War I, some of these animals began to be taken to South Africa, and as time passed on, the requirement for the types of the Saddlebreds also began to change since these horses were no more required to appear on the battlefields anymore. Instead, the main priority changed to physical beauty and elegance to make them more and more refined for the horse show rings.

In 1891, the breed association NSHBA (National Saddle Horse Breeders Association) was formed, which again changed its name to the American Saddle Horse Breeders Association (ASHBA) in 1899. This was actually a purposive step in order to clarify the name of the breed as the ‘American Saddle horse’ instead of the ‘Saddle horse’. Since then, the ASHBA began to publish the American Saddle Horse Register.

In the 20th century, these horses went through a phase of much more popularity than ever before, and enthusiastic breeders like William Shatner took the initiative to breed them for different other purposes like pleasure riding, horse exhibitions, and several other events like we see them in, today.

Interesting Facts

  • The National Saddle Horse Breeders Association was America’s first national association dedicated to a horse breed that was developed in the country.
  • Presently, in South Africa, the imported American Saddlebreds proved to be the country’s most popular non-racing horse.
  • ‘Denmark’ was a Saddlebred stallion – who is considered by many people as the ancestor to many other modern-day Saddlebreds – served as the carrier of General Hunt Morgan in the Civil War.
  • The horse breed association, ASBHA, publishes a magazine called The American Saddlebred Magazine.

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