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Saddlebred Shows - HSC Overview

Saddlebred & rider in the line-up of a show, under the lights. Saddlebred shows listed on HSC want you to know all about them - where and when, what other breed classes they offer, what charities they support, even the types of classes they offer both exhibitors and audiences.

Conversely these shows are important to all involved with the ASB horse, whether the person is young, old or middle-aged, whether they ride, train, teach riding, or are breeders, or just love to watch this breed in the ring.


Locate SHOWS EVENTS. On the search tool, select American Saddlebred as the breed, then select the month, or simply view all shows for the ASB. This online search also allows you to search for a specific competition name, or search by state, and even by the names of classes that shows may offer. You can search with one criterion or combine many, all at one time. Whatever you tell the search tool to list for you, it will do that. Pick your favorites early in the season and continue to view updates all year long.


Show managers and secretaries are invited to create your own listing on the site that ranks on all the major search engines and enjoys mega exhibitor traffic!

Your listing is displayed multiple times: by state, by month and start date, by types of classes offered, and of course also by name. Add your show to our directory of local, state, national and international Saddlebred events!

With HorseShowCentral’s featured status, there is even more --entry blanks, prize lists, stabling forms, real time news and show results can be provided to the public. Readers like to know what makes a show both good for them to attend, and FUN. And you have the freedom to edit all year long at your own convenience.

Via HSC’s comprehensive online search tools for the public (link offered above), classes offered to the American Saddlebred by individual shows are easy to find. For a shorter list, at the bottom of this page, links are provided that allow you to view various shows that offer specific ASB discipline classes. Finding the classes that interest you is easy on HSC. There are also links below for ASB shows by state.


Competitions began spontaneously as America became settled enough that people had time for socializing. The American Horse was a vital facet of frontier life, dependable in front of a plow, or any other job asked of him. He had to have stamina, strength, speed when needed, and he had to be dependable. With his intelligence and affection for his “family” the Saddlebred also endeared himself to the people who depended on him. Plus if he could amble along in style while also giving his rider a comfortable ride, he was even more valuable and this is how competitive events grew along with the country. As communities grew and there was time for social activities, people attended county fairs and special court days.

With the invention of the car, instead of disappearing, the traditional saddle and tack, the clothing of the rider, and way of riding became an icon. Like the American cowboy with his Stetson, jeans, chaps, and heavy western stock saddle, the American Saddlebred rider continued the even earlier tradition of the English saddle suit, derby, and flat saddle (which antedated the English forward seat saddle). Eventually, this wonderful breed left the dusty rural back roads for the show ring, because that was all that was left to him and the people who couldn’t imagine a time without him.

With this transformation, the breeders had little use for only a walk, trot and canter. What they loved was the extra two gaits, the rack and slow gait, as these were the gaits that carried old memories of the four-beat staccato rhythm of a Saddlebred on a country road. They worked to develop and train these two extra gaits so the horse remained “true” and separated his gaits to perfection. They had another quality they valued from the American past which was boldness.

The worse thing these men could say about any Saddlebred show entry, was that he was a quitter. This is because the best were as fearless in battle as in the backwoods, due to their high intelligence and confidence in themselves. Today we find this same quality in the best show animals - a spirited contender with a bold disposition, that thinks a lot of himself.


An effective marketing tool of the post-war era was the increased popularity of shows as public entertainment. The first exhibition was recorded near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1816, but the sport had grown over the years, with the first national horse show occurring at the St. Louis Fair in 1856. The gifted Saddlebreds dominated competition.

Despite the fact that during the late nineteenth century the American Saddle Horse was still very much a using animal, the rivalry at events between breeders was intense. Gifted horsemen began making a living training show horses.

A coal black stallion who was to make a great contribution in giving even greater status to Saddlebred exhibitions and to the breed burst on to the show scene at St. Louis in 1893. In an illustrious career, the charismatic Rex McDonald was beaten only three times. He was idolized by the public and visited by presidents of the United States.

In Kentucky, an unusual colt of predominantly trotting blood, with a dash of Denmark, was foaled in 1900. Bourbon King became a sensation as a five gaited show stallion, winning the grand championship at the old Louisville Horse Show as a three-year-old. Living to the age of 30, Bourbon King was the great progenitor of equine stars in ASB events throughout the country as well as contributing to the ongoing excellence of the entire breed.


The Kentucky State Fair Horse Show, began in 1902 and was cancelled for only one year during World War II (1942). In 1943 the show was staged at Churchill Downs to benefit injured soldiers.

The Kentucky State Fair Horse Show drew many regional patrons in its early years, but in 1914 it began to draw attention from afar with the largest purse in the nation for what was then called the Commission of Agriculture Saddle Horse Stake. Purse money increased through the years and the event was re-named the Five-Gaited World Grand Championship. This show has become the most famous and well-attended of Saddlebred shows not just in American, but internationally.

In 1917, the Kentucky State Fair offered the first $10,000 five gaited stake and claimed to be the Worlds Championship and Easter Cloud became the first horse to be designated world champion.

There had been no bona fide world champion since the demise of the old St. Louis Fair around the turn of the century. Shows varied across the nation, from the high society affairs of New York and Los Angeles, to the great state fairs of the south and mid-west, to the county fairs which were more athletic competitions than society functions. The American Horse Shows Association was founded with a large number of Saddlebred people deeply involved. Through the decade of 1920, Saddlebred shows continued to evolve, with format and rules becoming more standardized. Agriculture was still the mainstay of America, and most Americans understood and appreciated the athleticism and splendor of the animals. Individual stars such as CH Chief Of Longview, CH Sweetheart On Parade and CH Roxie Highland caught the public imagination.

In the 1920s and 30s, shows were taking place in Louisville, Kentucky, St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California under the farm colors of some of the wealthiest families in America. Francis Dodge of the Dodge Motor Company and Mrs. William Roth of the Matson Shipping Lines in San Francisco were just two of the many who spent years showing and promoting their horses from coast to coast, putting them on trains crossing the country, entertaining people who flocked to horse shows as Americans struggled to bear up under the cloud of the Great Depression and the turmoil of World War II.

World War II put a damper on recreational activity, but in the second half of the 1940 decade, the excitement of Saddlebred shows revived with such stars as CH Oak Hill Chief and six-time World’s Grand Champion CH Wing Commander. Hundreds of horse trainers plied their trade, particularly in rural areas. Mexico, Missouri, once home to the historic black horseman Tom Bass and now headquarters for trainers John Hook, Art Simmons, and a host of others, had a legitimate claim to the title “Saddle Horse Capital of the World.”

World Grand Champion designations were added to the Three-Gaited and Fine Harness divisions in 1936 at the Kentucky State Fair Show. The additional world titles, combined with an ever-growing premium pot, solidified the international prominence of the show. This richest and most prestigious event for the American Saddlebred breed now attracts more than 2,000 horses from around the world.

By 1950, Saddlebred shows had become such a big part of American society that the great Five-Gaited World Champion, Wing Commander, appeared in Life magazine as an example of a fine athlete.


Today, the ASB breed is still a small one. With its registry laying claim to being the oldest registry in the country with an official date of 1891, the American Saddlebred Horse Assn, or ASHA, registers about 3000 horses per year. One fact remains, and that is that the ASB breed, unlike many others, retains its genetic diversity, its health, soundness, athleticism, and intelligence. The retention of those characteristics is due to the stewardship of those who never forgot its heritage or its trials, those people whose hearts beat a little faster at the sight of a good horse and the sound of its footfalls.

Numerous throughout the United States, there are now Saddlebred shows in every state of the country. Each year there is the World Championship show with large class offerings and well-filled classes, in which international entries compete for the many World Champion and World Grand Championship titles.

There are many incentives offered in the US: Saddlebred Select honors achievements through a point system; Pleasure Horse Awards honor top pleasure horses each year; Sport Horse of the Year Awards recognize achievements in sport horse disciplines through a high point year-end program; Breeder Awards honors ASHA members who breed the winning horse in designated Stake and Championship classes at the World Championship show.

Saddlebred shows most often offer Three-Gaited, the world famous Five-Gaited, Fine Harness, Pleasure and Western classes, yet this breed of horse is very successful in many other disciplines too and shows are also held in the countries of South Africa, England, Germany and Canada to name a few. The American Saddlebred horse is well-established as an excellent show horse and is often called the “peacock of the show ring’, providing quite universally acclaimed brilliant performances unlike any other breed.

Successful competitors in ”A“ rated USA Equestrian recognized Saddlebred shows are allowed by the ASB Record to earn the right to have ”CH“(Champion) become part of their registered names and frequently classes provided by US shows are supported by National Futurities; Sweepstakes: and the ASB Grand National with considerable prize monies being offered as incentive to breed and exhibit those animals who most characterize the breed standards of show ring excellence.

Other HorseShowCentral site areas about the breed:

Business Products - Shopping

Search this site for this breed’s current Stallions at Stud
Search this site for ASB Horses for Sale
Search this site for Stables/Farms/Ranches
Search this site for ASB Associations-Clubs

American Saddlebred horse (Breed History)



  American Saddlebred in Arizona   (10)
  American Saddlebred in California   (9)
  American Saddlebred in Colorado   (5)
  American Saddlebred in Florida   (7)
  American Saddlebred in Georgia   (9)
  American Saddlebred in Illinois   (13)
  American Saddlebred in Indiana   (6)
  American Saddlebred in Iowa   (5)
  American Saddlebred in Kentucky   (28)
  American Saddlebred in Maine   (9)
  American Saddlebred in Massachusetts   (9)
  American Saddlebred in Michigan   (3)
  American Saddlebred in Minnesota   (8)
  American Saddlebred in Missouri   (12)
  American Saddlebred in New Hampshire   (5)
  American Saddlebred in New York   (7)
  American Saddlebred in North Carolina   (8)
  American Saddlebred in Ohio   (15)
  American Saddlebred in Pennsylvania   (15)
  American Saddlebred in South Carolina   (11)
  American Saddlebred in Tennessee   (11)
  American Saddlebred in Texas   (11)
  American Saddlebred in Virginia   (6)
  American Saddlebred in Washington   (7)
  American Saddlebred in West Virginia   (8)
  American Saddlebred in Wisconsin   (4)


Exhibitors, read all about American Saddlebred shows and Hackney or Harness Pony, and also about Friesian - Friesian Bred, and more:

Academy classes
Equitation - Saddle Seat
Equitation Adult
Equitation Walk Trot
3-5 Gaited
3-5 Gaited Amateur
3-5 Gaited amateur by horse-height
3-5 Gaited Country Pleasure
3-5 Gaited Jr. Exhibitor
3-5 Gaited Junior
3-5 Gaited Ladies/Gents
3-5 Gaited Park
3-5 Gaited Park Amateur
3-5 Gaited Park Pleasure
3-5 Gaited Pleasure classes
3-5 Gaited Show Pleasure
3-5 Gaited Pony
Fine Harness
Fine Harness Amateur
Fine Harness Junior
Fine Harness Ladies
Futurity Classes

Photo at the top of the page Ross Millin - copyright Newline Stud.

Other introductory site pages about this specific breed:

American Saddlebred | Saddlebreds
ASB Farms
ASB Stables
ASB Stallions