KENTUCKY MOUNTAIN SADDLE HORSE
Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
Breed Organization Information
About the Breed
For over 200 years, the saddle horse has lived in the hills and valleys of eastern Kentucky. Originally bred by the mountain people for the demanding needs of farm life, the horse which had been secluded for many years became noticed and domesticated in the late 1980’s. Over the last 20 some years these horses have become a highly sought after “pleasure horse” in all of Kentucky as well as around the world, for their easy going temperament, intelligence, versatility, willingness, and most notably, a smooth, natural 4-beat gait. Many members of long-time Kentucky families remember well the stories of the many extraordinary feats that were told about these horses by their grandfathers and great grandfathers around the dinner table.
In 1989, Robert Robinson, Jr., a native of Irvine, Kentucky formed the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association (KMSHA) to document and preserve the ancestry and rich heritage of the mountain saddle horse. In 2002 the Spotted Mountain Horse Association (SMHA) was formed, (a subsidiary of the KMSHA) to register mountain horses that had “spots” of white that were considered too much coverage for any of the existing mountain horse breeds, in order to meet their solid color standards.
This Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and the Spotted Mountain Horse breeds, each with their own distinctive characteristics and genetic DNA markers, are recognized by the University of Kentucky, Equine Parentage Testing and Genetic Research Center as their own unique breed of Horse. The KMHA has closed its books and has been working with the University of Kentucky to continue to identify new genetic markers that will further enhance the breed. The SMHA’s books are still open.
To qualify for the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association (KMSHA) registration, the horse must display the following characteristics:
1. Show a gentle and willing disposition.
2. Demonstrate, under saddle, evidence of a natural smooth, even 4-beat gait.
3. Be of any color (may have white on the face, legs (mane & tail), but white is limited to 36 square inches or less on the body only in the area behind the breast bone and under the ends of the rib cage.) Spotted Mountain Horses (SMHA) may have over the 36 inches of white and may contain the color characteristics of certain genetic markers such as tobiano, overo, sabino, etc.
4. Height be not less than 11H (44 inches) for class B, or 13.3H and up for Class A.
5. Be of good conformation and meet the “breed standard” as adopted and revised in 2006.
Foals born of KMSHA registered sires and dams may be temporarily registered from birth, but for permanent registration will be required to demonstrate the above characteristics when put under saddle at two years of age or older and approved by KMSHA examiners.
In 1989, Robert Robinson, Jr. formed the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association to document and preserve the ancestry of the breed and to establish and promote nationally and internationally its cherished characteristics.
In 2002 the Spotted Mountain Horse Association (SMHA) was formed, (a subsidiary of the KMSHA) to register mountain horses that had “spots” of white that were considered to much coverage for any of the existing mountain horse breeds, in order to meet their solid color standards.
From its humble beginnings, and through its unwavering commitment to promote the breeds, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association and the Spotted Mountain Horse Association (collectively KMSHA) have grown at a compounded annual rate of 25% for the last five years. There are now over 18,000 registered Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses and 2,900 individuals and families are members of the Association. The KMSHA is indisputably the largest and fastest growing Mountain Horse breed in existence today.
In Kentucky alone, there are at least 9,700 Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses owned by residents of Kentucky. Additionally, there are several hundred of Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and Spotted Mountain Horse stallions, mares and geldings boarded and trained in Kentucky which are owned by residents of other states. Horses exist in every state, Canada, and rapidly growing numbers in Europe.
For those interested in showing, the Association sponsors local and national shows, culminating at the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and Spotted Mountain Horse Association’s “International Grand Championship Show” held the second week of October at the Kentucky Horse Park each year. For those interested in organized trail rides, the Association endorses local, regional, and national trail rides that are good old-fashioned family get-togethers and fun for all. The Association sponsors a bi-monthly magazine that keeps members informed on current topics related to the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and Spotted Mountain Horse. The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and the Spotted Mountain Horse are truly horses for any reason in any season and combined are of today’s largest and fastest growing Mountain Horse breeds.
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