Left in his natural state, the American Saddlebred horse is a fine riding and harness horse. He was originally bred to be an all-purpose animal, but refinements made for the show ring, such as an unnatural carriage tail and unusually long hooves, have led to him being looked upon by some as rather artificial.
ORIGIN: United States
ENVIRONMENT: Open habitat including grassland, moor and heath
USES: Riding, sports, carriage work and ranch work
HEIGHT: 15.0 to 16.0 hh (60 to 64 in)
COLORS: Black, chestnut, gray, bay, palomino, and roan
In the early 19th century, settlers in the southern states set about breeding a horse that would be elegant but practical. He had to carry a man for many hours over rough terrain to inspect crops, had to be smart enough to pull a carriage, and he had to be tough enough to work cattle. His bloodlines include two pacer breeds: the now-extinct Narrangansett Pacer and the Canadian Pacer, as well as the Thoroughbred.
The American Saddlebred has unique paces and is trained to be either a three- or five-gait horse. Three-gait horses work in walk, trot, and canter, with all three paces being slow, collected, and elevated. The five-gait horse also shows a high-stepping slow gait and the “rack”– a fast, flashy four-beat gait. The hooves are grown very long and shod with heavy shoes to exaggerate the gaits.
If I had a horse like this I would name him Sun and Sky.
The head carries many of the same qualities of a Thoroughbred: cleanly defined lines, alertly pricked ears, and a proud, bold, and intelligent expression.
The Saddlebred’s distinctive outline features a high set, long, arched neck; a short, strong back; and a level croup.
Debby Sly: Encyclopedia of Horses. Bath, UK 2008, p. 179