Not many animals are closely tied to a particular nation, but the American saddlebred is an exception, and not just because of its name.
The American saddlebred is the descendant of the Galloway and hobby horse, both of which were brought to the Americas in the 1600s. In the 1700s, these horses were bred with stallions from the Middle East to create the thoroughbred, and this became known as the American horse. The breed went on to become a standard mount in the American Revolution, so its history is intrinsically linked to the history of America.
American Saddlebred Basics
The American saddlebred stands out in large part because of its regal stance and aura of nobility. The horse stands between 15 and 16 hands high and comes in a variety of colors, including chestnut, gray and black. They have a small head resting on a long neck, and they carry their lithe bodies on a set of especially long legs.
In addition to providing a striking officer’s mount, their long features allow for a high gait, which makes them ideal show horses. They’re also as personable as they are physically distinguished; they get along well with other horses and with people, and they take instruction easily.
Caring for the American Saddlebred
Although the American saddlebred seems to be ideal for everything from shows to everyday riding, they also require a lot of attention and special care. Their diet, temperament and grooming needs can be time-consuming, but the results are worth it.
Food: Horses require lots of roughage and an open pasture is the best possible source. If a pasture isn’t available – for instance, if the horse is confined – then hay is the next best thing. However, the hay should be fresh and dry. Dusty hay or hay containing mold and/or water damage should never be fed to an American saddlebred.
Grooming: A shiny, healthy coat keeps the American saddlebred looking like a prize horse at all times. Check their coats every day for ticks and cuts, and check their hooves for pebbles and signs of infection. A good brushing keeps the coat shiny, while regular trimming of the mane and tail keeps them looking lean. For an even leaner look, let them run every day.
Temperament: While the American saddlebred is relatively even-tempered and friendly, it can also be sensitive to its surroundings. If you hire someone to handle gopher removal in the stable, for example, tell them to move slowly and not make any sudden movements. Also, avoid walking underneath their bellies; you don’t want to risk getting caught up in their startled reaction.
The American saddlebred is part of our proud national history, but even without the patriotic zeal it can still be a wonderful show horse and family friend.