Rocky Mountain Horses are known for their beautiful appearance and calm temperament, but one of the most striking features of this breed is its unique four-beat single-foot gait. Compared to a trot, which is a diagonal pair-of-foot movement that gives the rider a bump with every stroke of the horse’s hooves, this gait provides a smoother and more comfortable ride and conserves energy. Because of this feature, Rocky Mountain Horses are used in a variety of riding activities including trail riding, competitive or endurance riding and 4-H projects. They’re also a good choice for pulling carriages or plows and are well-suited to competitive events such as dressage, barrel racing and eventing.
These horses are typically 14.2 to 16 hands high and have a compact, muscular build with long, strong legs. Their head is proportionally large for its size with a long face and a straight profile, and their eyes are medium-sized with expressive expressions. Their shoulders slope notably and their necks are medium in length.
The most common rocky mountain horse color is chocolate with flaxen manes and tails, but the breed’s registry also accepts blacks, bays, palominos and chestnuts. Within the chocolate color, variations include sorrels, roans and buckskins. In addition, white markings are permitted, but the breed standards set a limit on how much white any Rocky Mountain Horse can have.
In the past, the Rocky Mountain Horse’s natural, surefooted gait made it a popular saddle horse for ranchers and farmers who relied on these animals to work cattle in a harsh environment. Today, this one-of-a-kind breed continues to capture riders’ hearts because of its beauty and unique gait, as well as its calm temperament and easy trainability. They make excellent competition and trail horses and are a great choice for beginners because of their good-natured temperaments.
As an added bonus, the Rocky Mountain Horse’s four-beat single-foot gait offers a lower level of impact on the rider, making it a safer alternative to the traditional trot for beginners and even advanced riders. The slower pace of this gait also makes it a better fit for those who suffer from back problems.
The Rocky Mountain Horse Association was founded in 1986 and has seen steady growth since its inception. Over 25,000 Rocky Mountain Horses have been registered to date, and this number is expected to continue to rise. This is a result of the breed’s popularity for its beauty, unique gait and calm temperament. In addition, this one-of-a-kind horse has a good attitude toward work and is hardy during winter temperatures. For these reasons, the Rocky Mountain Horse is becoming increasingly popular as a show and competition horse. This is a breed that will be around for a long time.