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About the American Saddlebred

Rail fence with one Saddlebred trotting at liberty on one side, and one cantering on the other.


The American Saddlebred is a breed of horse first developed in the early American Colonial days and later named, rather appropriately, The American Saddlebred. Why the name? The intention of the early breeders was to create a grand saddle horse to meet the needs of a young nation. In the forming of the American Saddlebred, this animal was required to have stamina, courage, an easy temperament and the ability to be used for ever so many of the jobs that a growing civilization wished a horse to do. Along with all of these requirements, the colonists also wanted high style and elegance, hence the saddle horse became a Saddlebred, and an American made breed with standardized characteristics.

The American Saddlebred was so successful in meeting all requirements that his history marched right along with that of the nation. The American Saddlebred, historically, has done everything asked of him at any time while maintaining always his particular hallmark of unique athletic ability coupled with high elegance and style.

Saddlebred or Saddlebreds ( singular or plural), is a term used to refer to the breed of horse called the American Saddlebred, so when people use word Saddlebreds they are speaking of a breed and not a general group of just nice riding or ambling, gaited horses. Also people frequently use just the initials ASB, and by their use also mean the Saddlebred horse.

This breed, is primarily a using animal, developed by men who rode and drove their own horses, and the American Saddlebred is still most perfectly adapted to the use of people who expect a horse to adjust himself to practically any job that his owner has on hand.

American 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.


The base foundation stock of the American Saddlebred as a breed, was the English saddle horse, well established in England and brought with the colonists to America. Then by the mid eighteenth century the new English Thoroughbred was imported and by the nineteenth century was used to improve all of the light horse breeds in American, including very selectively in the beginnings of the American Saddlebred breed. In spite of the contribution of more selective Thoroughbred blood in ongoing centuries, the essential characteristics of the American Saddlebred were developed from the old English horse in the Colonies.

The original stock from which the American Saddlebed was begun, had a long history in England before colonists ever brought horses to America. The English saddle horse was a very definite type. In England before roads were suitable for wheeled vehicles, the ease of gait a ridding horse possessed was a sought after trait. 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. And this old English stock held its identity in the Colonies even after the horse back in England was transformed.

These British ancestors of the American Saddlebred horse were already in the colonies prior to the infusion of any blood stock from the Syrian-Arabian deserts into the English Saddle horse.

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

Meanwhile, in England 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 the English horse.

Then 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 breed.

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 horse in the Colonies. Up to 1750, the Thoroughbred horses 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

Though the Saddlebred owes much to the Thoroughbred, the Thoroughbred’s forward center of gravity, resting above the withers, moved back to just behind the withers in the American SaddleBred, freeing up the shoulders for lighter footwork, sure-footedness and agility.


The fact that by stabling the American Saddlebred and drilling him in a special manner, he can give us one of the most glorious equine performances ever produced, putting forth racing speed at extreme action, a feat that can be performed by few, if any, horses of any other breed, gives many people the idea that American Saddlebreds are purely a show piece requiring very special handing, hence they are called the peacock of the show ring.

In the field of the show ring, especially in three and five-gaited classes, American Saddlebreds stand 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 of minutes in duration but is a sustained competition by the equine great, viewed at close hand for the better part of an hour. The Five-Gaited champion American Saddlebred during a performance in the show ring ,varies from the racing speed of the rack to the restrained majesty of the slow-gait.

Horse shows for the American Saddlebred are held in every state of the United States and the breed popularity has spread to many other countries, with shows also popular in Germany, South Africa and England to name a few.

Those people whose knowledge of the American Saddlebred is limited to the show ring, know from experience that this horse has legs that can stand speed work and that he can carry weight and perform at racing speed with extreme action. They know that the great Saddlebreds can be trained to a machinelike precision. But people whose knowledge is confined to the show ring are seldom aware that because of the way the breed grew into being, the American Saddlebred is, when opportunity permits, the most attentive of companions and possesses an almost intuitive responsiveness.


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 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 through1953, his tenth year, each time putting up a prolonged performance against a ring full of the best Saddlebred horses in the world.

Read stories of famous American Saddlebred Horses below - From the beginnings of the breed to modern day, including world grand champions and family bloodlines. There have been many famous and outstanding individuals in the foundations and history of the Saddlebred breed. It would be a huge task to outline the entire history, but many stars are addressed, including a couple of the very most famous of American Saddlebred stallions. Check back as more will be added as time permits.

The first ever American Saddlebred WG Champion in the history of the breed. Easter Cloud the First World Champion Saddlebred - First to win the tile and begin the history of magic in Kentucky. Montrose, old time beautiful American Saddlebred stallion. Montrose - Beauty and Style from the annuals of American Saddlebred bloodline history.
Great American Saddlebred Rex Peavine Rex Peavine a Saddlebred who was never for sale - He shaped the history of today’s show horses.   American Saddlebred Bourbon King by GF Morris. Bourbon King American Saddlebred Legend - The great progenitor of the “Chief” Family history.
George F. Morris painting of the American Saddlebred stallion Rex McDonald.

Rex McDonald - a Saddlebred who scared the competition - A shiny black stallion who won as many hearts as ribbons.
Saddlebred owner and author Ross Millin Dr. Ross Millin of Newline Stud writes a regular column for the South African Magazine, S.A. Show Horse, about the history and bloodlines of some of the great Saddlebreds of both the past and present. The HorseShowCentral website is very pleased to be allowed to carry these essays, with the author’s permission and we wish to thank Dr. Millin for the many photos used by his so gracious permission also.
Famous Horses Photo of Saddlebred Wing Commander. Wing Commander: Breeding Bloodlines - Six Times World Grand Champion 5 Gaited Winner Famous Horses Photo of Saddlebred Genius Bourbon King.
Genius Bourbon King
Highly famed champion and stallion son of Genius Bourbon
Famous Horses Photo of Indiana Ace Saddlebred stallion on 2 continents. Indiana Ace Saddlebred
A stallion famous on two continents!
Famous Horses Photo of Valley View Supreme. Valley View Supreme Saddlebred 3 Gaited Stallion
A rare Three-Gaited World Grand Champion and extremely successful sire.
Famous Horses Photo of stallion Perfect Timing from Newline Stud. Famous Saddlebreds and Breeding in South Africa
Discussion of many great sires and their bloodlines.
Famous Horses Photo of stallion Stonewall Supreme. Stonewall Supreme
The greatest of all Stonewall King Saddlebreds.


In the world of today, the accomplishments we require of a horse are much less than in Colonial days, yet American Saddlebreds continue to enchant and please, whether at home, on the trail, or in the show ring where their high action , speed, unflagging, elegant style and heart are obvious to all viewers. Saddlebreds just have a habit of making riders feel as though they were indeed flying without wings. In accomplishing any task at all, a human experiences and so knows they have the support of an equine partner full of much heart, ability, and responsive willingness.

Outside the traditional show arena, the American Saddlebred has been successful in most equine disciplines, from cow horses to jumpers, dressage to carriage horses. If conditioned and trained properly, Saddlebreds are capable of almost any task they are asked to perform, and they do it with style.

Today, the popularity of the American Saddlebred has slowly spread around the world and their worth is acclaimed by enthusiasts everywhere. American Saddlebred stallions are also being used internationally at many stud farms throughout the world. There are international Breed Associations recognized by the ASHA (USA) -- in Canada, in South Africa and the UK in South Africa, Australian, The Philippines and interest is growing in Europe. Now in Australia, after a long period of negotiation between ASHAA (Australia) USA, purebred horses bloodtyped (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 a breed 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 the American Saddlebred.

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


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:

American Saddlebred Horse Breed history.

American SaddlebredHorse 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.)

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

American Saddlebred stables, farms, ranches

American Saddlebred horse associations-Clubs

horse-related businesses servicing the Saddle Horse Industry

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