<<< back to article list

365 Days in Horse Country – The Saddlebred

Blog by Michael Stuart Webb | December 18th, 2013

365 Days in Horse Country – The Saddlebred

 The Saddlebred’s origins were in a horse breed called the Narragansett Pacer (see my May 31st, 2013 blog entitled; 365 Days in Horse Country – The Narragansett Pacer, for more information on this breed).  The Narragansett Pacer was created in the Narragansett area of Rhode Island.  British colonists in the New World used Galloway and Hobbie horses from the British Isles to develop the Narragansett horse, which possessed a wonderfully smooth riding gait.

In the early 1700s, breeders had begun crossing Thoroughbreds with the Pacer to get a bigger, more versatile horse.  This resulting breed came to be known simply as the American Horse.  This breed inherited an ambling gait from the Narragansett Pacer, and colonists used it during the American Revolution and into the early part of the next century.

Eventually, Morgan, Canadian Pacer, and Hackney horses were bred to the American Horse, resulting in a new breed called the Kentucky Saddler, and eventually the Saddlebred.  By the mid-1800s, this breed had become very popular throughout the Eastern United States.

When the Civil War began in 1861, the Saddlebred carried men into battle, including the war’s most prominent generals, General Ulysses S. Grant.  Grant owned two Saddlebreds, named charger and Cincinnati, while Robert E. Lee rode a gray Saddlebred gelding named Traveller (see my July 20th, 2013 blog entitled; 365 Days in Horse Country – Traveller, for more information).  The Saddlebred not only helped fight the war, it also aided the South during Reconstruction.

In 1891, the National Saddlebred Horse Breeders Association was formed, later to be called the American Saddlebred Horse Association.

The American Saddlebred has an elegant and refined appearance. Standing anywhere from 15 to 17 hands, they come in palomino, chestnut, bay, black, gray, brown, and pinto.

Saddlebreds are born with four gaits and some are trained to have six.  In addition to the walk, trot, canter and gallop, six-gaited Saddlebreds also know how to slow gait and to rack.

The Saddlebred is used widely for show, in gaited classes, jumping, and dressage.  The breed also makes a great trail horse.