The American Saddlebred
The American Saddlebred began developing in the 1700's by crossing the Narragansett Pacer ( a small, hardy horse that was naturaly gaited and very comfortable to ride ) with the imported Thoroughbreds, which the colonists began importing from England in the early 1700s. By 1776 an all-purpose riding horse, commonly called the American Horse, was recognized as a definite type. It was a practical horse, as well as one of great elegance. These animals retained the easy gaits and stamina of the Narraganset Pacer with the addition of Thoroughbred size and quality.

The American Horse, was used as the primary means of tansportation for many families, both under saddle and in harness. The American Horse was known for its' beauty, easy gaits and stamina as well as a pleasant temperament and eagerness. American Horses accompanied pioneers into Kentucky, they  were used as seed stock and were crossed with Morgan, Standardbred and Hackney to produce a distinctive, impressive horse. In Kentucky, Thoroughbred blood was continually used to cross back to easy-gaited horses. This developed a larger, prettier, all-purpose animal and set the American Saddlebred as a breed. The state's breeders sold horses throughout the nation in the 1800's, making Kentucky a major horse producing state. "Kentucky saddlers" were particularly prized and achieved national prominence. 

In the 1880's breeders began to call for the formation of a breed association and registry. Charles F. Mills of Springfield, Illinois, began compiling pedigrees and formulating rules for a registry. The Farmers Home journal, a newspaper published in Louisville, Kentucky, called for a meeting April. 7, 1891 to organize the association, and the registry was established that day ... the first horse breed association in the U.S.  Gait was the overriding criteria for development of the breed, and early registrations were based on the ability of a horse to perform the “saddle gaits” (the rack, running walk, fox trot and/or slow pace). Seventeen stallions were designated foundation sires. 

In 1891, the American Saddlebred Horse Association was founded in Louisville, Kentucky, the first such organization for an American breed of horse. Originally known as the National Saddle Horse Breeders Association, its name was changed to American Saddle-Horse Breeders Association in 1899 and to the American Saddlebred Horse Association in 1980, in order to describe better the horse and the all-encompassing mission of the Association. An event of note occurred in 1957 when a group of Saddlebred enthusiasts met to form the American Saddlebred Pleasure Horse Association, giving stature to “English pleasure” classes, which had long been a mainstay of the show circuit. This had a tremendous impact on the           Saddlebred world over the years, and today the pleasure divisions rival all others in numbers. 


1999 American Horse Shows Association
5-Gaited Horse of the Year, 
CH Attache's Foxfire 
taking a victory pass at the rack.

The Saddlebred world flourished in the show ring, and is most commonly known as a show horse today. Today, ASHA shows the registration  for a estimated 75,000 living American Saddlebred horses. Nearly a quarter million Saddlebreds have been registered. For permanent registration, a foal must be blood typed at the age of six weeks or later,
and the sire and dam must be registered American Saddlebreds with blood types on file. One must be a member of the association to do business with ASHA.

American Saddlebreds have been used in various disciplines including jumping, barrel racing, driving, show jumping, cross country jumping, cutting and reining. The Saddlebred has inherited the learn to do the elegant slow gait and the flashy, fast rack.

For More Information, Contact:

The American Saddle Horse Association
Kentucky Horse Park
4093 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511

Tel: (606) 259-2742
Fax: (606) 259-1628
Email: saddlebred@asha.net