The American Saddlebred was developed to meet the American pioneer’s need for a versatile farm and road horse. Beautiful yet hardy, docile yet flashy and above all comfortable under saddle for days at a time – The American Saddlebred has it all. Narragansett Pacers, natural and easy gaited animals developed in the colonies of Rhode Island and Virginia were selectively bred with early Thoroughbreds for their size and quality.
By 1776 an all purpose riding horse, then commonly referred to as the “American Horse” was easily recognized as a definite type. By the 1800’s as the pioneers moved west, this “American Horse” was the breed choice by farmers and frontiersmen who followed Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky.
In 1839 a very special Thoroughbred named Denmark was foaled who changed the “American Horse” forever. Over 60% of registered horses would later trace back to his son Gaines Denmark. Over the years, minor crosses to Morgan, Standardbred and Hackney horses also contributed to the breed. When the US Civil War ended the breed was perhaps preserved by General Grant’s order that confederate troops could keep their “American Saddle Horses” when they returned home.
As horse shows regained popularity after the civil war, the “American Saddle Horse” shone as their beauty, stamina and ability to learn made them sought after and commercially valuable. In an effort to preserve this breed, the USregistry was formed on April 7,1891 and the American Saddlebred was born, remaining a pure breed to this day. According to”Modern Breeds of Livestock”, published by Macmillan in 1980, says “The confirmation and style of the Saddle Horse is usually considered the most impressive of all breeds of horses, and most people regard it as the most beautiful horse existing in the world today”.