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American Saddlebred | Saddlebreds - Site Overview

Rail fence with one Saddlebred trotting at liberty on one side, and one cantering on the other. American Saddlebred sections of this website contain a wide range and wealth of material plus each section offers its own search facility. Just highlight the breed name, and you may also select additional ways of sorting and listing the knowledge base. Check it out - whatever suits your need is there.

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A breed of horse was developed in the early American Colonial days and later became named, rather appropriately, The American Saddlebred. The intention of the early breeders was to create a grand saddle horse to meet the needs of a young nation and this animal was required to have stamina, courage, an easy temperament and the ability to be used for ALL the many  jobs that a growing civilization wished horses to do. Along with all of these requirements, the colonists also wanted high style and elegance.

So successful was this breed in meeting all requirements that his history marched right along with that of the nation.  Saddlebreds, historically, have done everything asked of them at any time while maintaining always their particular hallmark of unique athletic ability coupled with high elegance and style.

In the field of the show ring, especially in three and five-gaited classes, the American Saddlebred stands without peer as a masterpiece of nature. Their performance, which can raise a vast crowd to a tremendous peak of excitement, is not merely a burst of speed of a couple minutes duration but is a sustained competition by the equine great, for the better part of an hour. The Five-Gaited Champions during a performance in the show ring, vary from the racing speed of the rack to the restrained majesty of the slow-gait.

The World Champion show held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, USA has a long history of truly great performances.


Astral King, a nine year old in 1915, battled successfully for Five-Gaited World Grand Championship, for two hours and five minutes with the eight year old Cascade and six other great animals, half of whom later became world champions in their turn.

Easter Cloud, an eight 8 year old in 1917, competing with Richlieu King, for one hour and thirty minutes, won the same American Saddlebred World Grand Championship. Richlieu King, at age nine, won the same honor from Easter Cloud and Golden Firefly in a one hour and ten minute battle. Then in 1918, Cascade at eleven years of age, worked brilliantly for one hour and five minutes to defeat the eleven year old Richileu King.

In 1948 as a five year old, the famous stallion Wing Commander, won the title in only 45 minutes. The next year it took him one hour and fifteen minutes to defend his title. He held this title through 1953, his tenth year, each time putting up a prolonged performance against a ring full of the best Saddlebred horses in the world.

In all of these contests a ring full of great horses put forth racing sped at extreme action, a feat that can be performed by few, if any, horses of any other breed.


Those people whose knowledge of Saddlebreds is limited to the show ring, know from experience of course that these horses have legs that can stand speed work and can carry weight and perform at racing speed with extreme action. They know that the great show performer can be trained to a machinelike precision. But people whose knowledge is confined to the show ring are seldom aware that because of selection of breeders and the way the breed came into being, this particular equine, when opportunity permits, is also the most attentive of companions and possesses an almost intuitive responsiveness.

The fact that by setting his tail, shoeing him in a certain way, and stabling him and drilling him in a special manner, he can give us, in our three-gaited and five-gaited stakes, one of the most glorious equine performances ever produced, gives many people the idea that he is purely a show piece requiring very special handing.

The American Saddlebred is primarily a using animal developed by men who rode and drove their own horses, and is still most perfectly adapted to the use of people who expect their horses to adjust themselves to practically any task.

In today’s world the accomplishments required are much less than in Colonial days, yet this breed continues to enchant and please, whether at home, on the trail, or in the show ring, and they have a habit of making riders feel good while accomplishing a job, always with the support of an equine partner full of much heart, ability, and responsive willingness.

Outside the traditional saddle seat show arena, Saddlebreds have been successful in most equine disciplines, from cow horses to jumpers, dressage to carriage horses. If conditioned and trained properly, they are capable of almost any job and they do it with style.

American Saddlebred horse shows are held in every state of the United States and the popularity of the breed has spread to many other countries, with shows also popular in Germany, South Africa and England to name a few. The stallions are also being used internationally at many stud farms throughout the world.

Saddlebreds have a long and proud history, from the battlefield at Gettysburg to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and a tremendous legacy of service in between.


Horses that existed in colonial America were the foundation stock of the modern American Saddle Horse, just as they were the foundation stock of the Quarter Horse, and the Standardbred. These current day breeds were achieved by the selection of equine individuals with particular characteristics and by careful and very limited use from time to time of blood outside the developing strain.

The original stock from which the Saddlebred was begun, has a long history in England before the colonists brought horses to America. The English saddle horse was a very definite type. In England before roads were suitable for wheeled vehicles, their ease of gait was a sought after trait. This old English stock held its identity in the Colonies even after the same type of horses back in England were transformed.

This change in England was the result of many factors. Good roads changed English transportation from saddle to vehicles, and the court fads of Charles II, were brought home to England from France. The English Thoroughbred was the crowning achievement of the subsequent transformation of English horses.

The American Colonies began to import the English Thoroughbred in the middle eighteenth century and by the next century the Thoroughbred, used by careful breeding, played its part in the improvement of all light breeds in America, including the beginnings of the American Saddlebred.

This improvement was partly the result of selection and survival of the fittest under very rigorous conditions, but an equally important factor was the inbreeding made necessary by life in those days, since few places in this country had more than one excellent sire. When such a stallion proved worthy, his progeny was bred back to him because he was the only good stallion available locally. Animals of great usefulness and with speed over distances were developed.

So in spite of the contribution of more selective Thoroughbred blood in coming centuries, the essential characteristics of the Saddlebred were developed from the old English horses in the Colonies. Up to 1750, the Thoroughbreds that had been brought to this country could be counted by the fingers on one hand. The horses used for racing in New York and Virginia, a century before the Thoroughbreds were imported, were the ancestors of the American Saddle Horse. Also these ancestors of the Saddle Horse were already in the colonies prior to the infusion of any blood stock from the Syrian-Arabian deserts into the English Saddle horse. The saddle horses of the middle twelfth century ridden by nobility and gentry were not trotters. The trotters were assigned to squires and other attendants.

Though the American Saddlebred owes much to the Thoroughbred, the breed retained none of the Thoroughbred intractability and inattentiveness to fine footwork. The Thoroughbred has a forward center of gravity, resting above the withers, that moved back to just behind the withers in the Saddle Horse, freeing up the shoulders for lighter footwork, sure-footedness and agility.

Today, their popularity has slowly spread around the world and their worth is acclaimed by enthusiasts everywhere. There are international Breed Associations recognized by the AHSA (USA) - in Canada, in South Africa and the UK, Australia, The Philippines, and interest is growing in Europe. Now in Australia, after a long period of negotiation between ASHAA (Australia) and ASHA(USA), purebred horses blood typed (and since 2002 DNA typed) and registered with ASHAA Inc. can be registered in the American registry, with the export market as an aim.

The American Saddlebred has consistently passed on its qualities to its heirs, and despite attempts to create similar horses through crossing other breeds to get the same characteristics, none has established itself as consistently as have the Saddlebreds.

The creation of man and nature in concert, the American Saddlebred is truly “The American Horse.”

You are invited to read more American Saddlebred Horse Breed history.

The wonderful and natural copyrighted photo at the top of the page Ross Millin - Newline Stud.

Click on the links below about the Saddle Horse industry:

Search this site for ASB Horse Shows - Events
Search this site for ASB Stallions at Stud
Search this site for ASB Stables/Farms/Ranches
Search this site for ASB Associations-Clubs
Search for ASB horse-related businesses servicing the Saddle Horse Industry


ASB Horse Shows, including shows featuring the 5 Gaited and Fine Harness classes. (Use main search at the top of these pages to search by date and state and classes offered.)

ASB Stallions at Stud, or the 5 Gaited Stallions
(Use the main search given to locate by state or stallion name.)

ASB Stables and Farms
(Use main search to search by location and services offered.)

ASB Associations and Clubs
(Use the main search given above for special details.)

Other introductory site pages about SADDLEBREDS:

Saddlebred Shows | American Saddlebred Horse Shows - lists ASB shows by state and discipline.
Farms - lists ASB farms by state and discipline.
Stables - lists ASB stables by state and discipline.
Stallions - lists the stallions by state

HSC has you covered, whether you want to find resources and knowledge or whether you want to present resources for the Saddlebred Industry!