The National Show Horse, came about initially as a cross between an American Saddlebred and and an Arabian horse. They are now established as a separate breed, and have been since the founding of the breed registry in August 1981. Registered animals today may be the offspring of registered NSH parents or may be a combination between an American Saddlebred, Arabian, and a National Show Horse. Non-National Show Horse mares and stallions must be registered with their appropriate registries, and stallions who are Arabian or Saddlebred must additionally be nominated and approved by the NSHR board of directors. Although any combination of these three breeds may be used, as of December 1, 2009 there must be at least 50% Arabian blood in the horse to be registered, up to 99% Arabian blood (formerly 25% minimum Arabian blood was required for registry).
When it comes to their characteristics, the National Show Horse combines the animation of the Saddlebred with the refinement of the Arabian. This results in a horse that has a high-set, upright and long swan-like neck of the saddlebred. The neck should also not have a pronounced crest. The National Show Horse should also have a refined and small head that has small ears and either a straight or concave profile. The horses are close-coupled with a level of topline and have a very deep, laid back shoulder. The tail carriage is high. Typically, the National Show Horse is 14.3-16.2 hands tall, with some individuals over or under.
The National Show Horse may be a variety of colors, including the traditional bay, gray, chestnut, and black of the Arabian, with Saddlebred ancestry adding a broader range of color than seen in the Arabian breed, including, most notably, pinto and palomino.+
These horses are usually bred for saddles seat riding as they are horses with high-stepping action and can be trained to move with a very elevated front end. Some can be trained to be five-gaited, adding the slow gait and rack to the traditional gaits of the walk, trot and canter. A versatile breed, they can also be used for show jumping, endurance, dressage, or western riding.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons