The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a breed of horse that was developed in eastern Kentucky. They are medium-sized horses that are a gaited breed and they are mainly used for under-saddle work.
The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse tends to be of medium bone and substance, as well as being very refined and athletic. These horses also tend to be very compact and close-coupled and they are also normally well-muscled. Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses also have neck that is of medium thickness and length with a cob-sized head that has a straight profile and a broad forehead.
With regard to their color, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse can be any color with white on their face, legs, mane, or tail if registered with the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association (KMSHA), as well as being spotted, having over 36 inches of white if registered with the Spotted Mountain Horse Association (SMHA); the height must not be less than 11 hands (for class B), or 13.3 hands (for class A); must be of good conformation and meet the "breed standard" as adopted and revised in 2006.Foals of KMSHA/SMHA registered sires and dams may be temporarily registered at birth, but must then go on to demonstrate the necessary characteristics when they reach an age to be trained under saddle.
These saddles horses were originally bred by the mountain people who lived among the hills and valleys of eastern Kentucky. They were bred for the demanding needs of farm life and it was an obscure breed until in the late 1980s it became noticed. Since then these horses have become highly sought after as pleasure horses in Kentucky and in other places across the world. They are highly sought after because of their easy-going temperament, intelligence, willingness, versatility and especially for their smooth and natural 4-beat gait.
The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association (KMSHA) was formed in 1989 by Robert Robinson, Jr. (a native of Irvine, Kentucky) to document, preserve, and promote the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse. In 2002, the Spotted Mountain Horse Association (SMHA) was formed as a subsidiary of the KMSHA to register spotted mountain horses.
The KMSHA has gone on to close their books and they are now working with the University of Kentucky to identify new genetic markers that will further individualize the breed.
Photo: Creative Commons licensed from Wikimedia Commons