American Saddlebred – The Horse America Made

Saddlebreds excel at most disciplines of equine riding, from school horses to show mounts. These horses perform the walk, trot and canter naturally with high-stepping action or may be trained to add slow gaits and racks as desired.

Established in 1891, the American Saddlebred Horse Association is America’s oldest horse breed registry. Based out of Lexington, Kentucky.

The American Saddlebred

American Saddlebred horses are widely revered show horses, offering incredible versatility and captivating audiences with their range of gaits and graceful performance. Popularly dubbed as America’s “Horse America Made,” these exquisite animals can perform in various disciplines across America and are beloved animals that people everywhere cherish.

Saddlebreds stand between 15-16 hands high. Usually found in chestnut or black coat colors with white markings, their heads feature small yet elegant features such as wide-set eyes set on a long neck which flows into well-arched shoulder and croup, short strong backs with rounder barrels than most light breeds, elegant heads featuring wide set eyes on long neck, small but elegant heads with small ears that lead into smooth arched shoulders and arched croups and short but strong backs that boast rounder barrels than most light breeds breeds.

Saddlebreds are three-gaited horses that perform the walk, trot and canter but can also be trained to do five gaits like slow gaits and racks for five gaited style riding. Saddlebreds are intelligent yet calm horses which make ideal school mounts or show competitors.

Historical Saddlebreds were used for riding and driving horses of both competition and pleasure, coming down through generations from Irish Hobbies and Galloways brought over from Europe during early settlement of America. By the Revolutionary War these hardy little breeds had evolved into Narragansett Pacers before eventually crossing with Thoroughbreds to create the Saddlebred breed we know today renowned for its beauty in show ring competition but also versatile working horses capable of supporting daily tasks.

Saddle Seat

Though they might appear large, saddle seat horses are often surprising agile. Additionally, their gentle nature means they quickly learn any task if properly trained – making these horses ideal riding partners for riders of any experience level, including those just starting out!

Saddle seat horses can excel at both three- and five-gaited competitions, dressage classes and western pleasure classes, in addition to driving and hunter/jumper disciplines.

In the show ring, saddle seat horses are often groomed and “turned out” to emphasize their elegance and grace – something which adds so much beauty to their presence in the arena. This attention to detail makes for such a remarkable sight in the show ring!

Competition riders competing in saddle seat must train their horses for an extended period before becoming successful at this sport. This is due to the man made gaits used in this discipline requiring that horses be in good physical shape before using them; also important is for them to reach full maturity before engaging in this discipline as it puts a great deal of strain on their back which may result in long term health problems such as hock and stifle issues, or front end issues like sidebone and ringbone issues.


American Saddlebreds have quickly become one of the most beloved breeds in saddle seat show competition, thanks to their animated style and big hearts. However, due to their versatility they also excel at other disciplines; three day eventing, hunter on the flat driving and combined driving are all perfect matches while dressage is another area in which this breed excels.

American Saddlebreds have an extraordinary intelligence and willingness to learn that makes them ideal candidates for any discipline, such as saddle or harness riding. Beyond traditional classes, the breed has also excelled at events like equitation, trail riding and endurance riding; some multi-talented individuals even compete successfully in barrel racing, cutting or reining competitions!

Academy Classes

Riders competing in Academy classes must either enroll in an ASAW Academy Program or obtain individual membership through show fees. Points earned in Academy classes only count towards ASAW Awards when taken against classes listed as Academy Award Classes in their show division class list (see class list).

Ocala International Horse Show offers more than just competitive opportunities; it’s also an educational event, offering seminars on nutrition, training techniques, equine health care and sportsmanship standards. Furthermore, Ocala promotes high standards of sportsmanship and ethical treatment of horses through this show.

Other Disciplines

American Saddlebred horses continue to dominate saddle seat disciplines with their dynamic high-stepping action and elegant lines. Known as the Horse America Made, these elegant animals feature long necks with well-arched arches that flow gracefully into beautifully formed shoulders for easy riding gaits which earned the breed great fame during the American Civil War when Generals Ulysses S Grant, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E Lee rode them into battle.

Today’s Saddlebred competitions encompass five main divisions: Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited, Fine Harness, Park and Pleasure. While each division varies in terms of look and desired traits, all strive towards meeting the ideal American Saddlebred model and are judged based on performance, manners, presence quality conformation.

Saddle Horses are commonly bred and shown for dressage and eventing competition, known as dressage. Highly trainable and intelligent, Saddle Horses have long been recognized for their eagerness to please. Legendary competitors such as The Rambler have found success competing at dressage – his trainer even nicknamed him “Game as the devil!” Current breeding stars such as Dream Waltz, Wing Commander Shoreacre’s Anacacho Genius Greenway Commander bring size, gameness and talent to this discipline.

Participating in horse shows requires having a current, negative Coggins test, veterinarian practice health papers noting Equine Influenza and Herpes Virus vaccinations and a signed statement by both owner/breeder as proof. You’ll also require proof of current rabies vaccination certification and an entry sign-in sheet bearing your name.






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