The American Saddlebred
is a specific breed of horse linked inexorably to the United States of America
. With the Morgan
, it is one of the only true breeds unique to America
The Saddlebred is a Show Horse noted for its conformation, and its unique gaits: the slow gait and the rack.
The American Saddlebred Horse carries himself with an attitude that eludes description - some call it class, presence, quality, style or charm. This superior air distinguishes his every movement.
The ideal American Saddlebred is well-proportioned and presents a beautiful overall picture. The animal should be in good flesh, with good muscle tone and a smooth, glossy coat. Masculinity in stallions and femininity in mares are important. The average height is 15 to 16 hands and the average weight is 1,000 to 1,200 pounds. All colors are acceptable; the most prominent are chestnut, bay, brown and black, with some grey, roan, palomino and pinto.
The slow gait is a four-beat, broken lateral gait. The footfalls for the slow gait are the same as the walk. Each foot rises from the ground and hesitates in the air. The slow gait is restrained, executed with extreme collection and with impulsion from the hind-quarters. The hind legs are placed well underneath the horse and the forehand is elevated.
The rack is a four-beat gait with the same footfall pattern as the walk, and may be considered a faster version of the slow gait, with the footfalls occurring at rapid, even intervals. The faster a horse can rack, while staying in good form, the better. Speed, while forsaking form, is not acceptable.
Saddlebred's fall into the following categories
- The Five Gaited Horse
The five-gaited horse is the aristocrat of the show ring and is considered by many as the most spectacular and exciting in a show horse. He wears a full mane and tail and is shown wearing quarter boots that protect the front feet of the horse when he is performing his gaits. He is shown both ways of the ring at the walk trot and canter plus the slow gait and the rack. The slow gait and rack are lateral gaits where each foot hits the ground separately. The American Saddlebred has the inherent ability to learn these gaits through proper training. The five-gaited horse is judged on performance, conformation, animation, manners, and soundness.
- The Three Gaited Horse
The Three-Gaited Saddlebred is picked for his extreme beauty and quality in contrast to his five gaited counterpart which should be more substantial. Mares and geldings dominate this division because most stallions are more masculine, but now and then a very fine stallion will do well. The three-gaited horse is required to perform at the walk, trot, and canter both ways of the ring. He is judged on action, conformation, animation, manners, and soundness. The three-gaited horse is shown with a clipped mane and tail. He should execute his gaits in a slow, collected manner and with high action, carry his head high, and have an alert ear and an overall air of brilliance. His walk should be prompt, showy, done cheerfully in correct form and at about four miles per hour without any dancing or fretting. The trot is the gait most emphasized and must be true, high in action, and well collected, excessive speed is not desired. The canter should be slow, rhythmic, and done on the correct leads. Classes for three-gaited horses are designated by size, age, amateur, ladies, juvenile, open, and stake or championship events.
- The Fine Harness Horse
The fine harness horse is an American Saddlebred shown at two gaits, an animated walk and the trot. In ladies and amateur classes the trot should be an airy park trot and in open and age competition "show your horse" may be called. "Show your horse" means the driver can team his horse at the speed which shows off the horse to the best advantage. Some remain at the park trot while others speed up, but excessive speed is penalized. The fine harness horse pulls a four-wheeled buggy with patent leather and brass fittings.
Equitation or horsemanship is a division open to riders who have not reached their l8th birthday and are amateurs. All classes are Judged solely on the riders style and ability to control his horse. The horse is not judged or rated in the division.
- The Pleasure Horse
The versatile American Saddlebred has proven to be the ideal pleasure mount. This division is open to mares and geldings shown by amateurs. They are shown with a full mane and tail which must be carried naturally. Any device that alters the natural carriage of the tail prohibited. Pleasure horses are shown in three-gaited, five-gaited, pleasure driving, Western, pleasure equitation and country pleasure divisions. They must appear to be a pleasure to ride. Manners and suitability as a pleasure mount are paramount.
gleamed from a lifetime of family showing and various online sources