Now I could write pages and pages about the history of the American Saddlebred, how they were bred, the general purpose they were bred for and famous people who rode them... but that is not what this post is about. I want to talk about the modern American Saddlebred.
While Saddlebreds have made their mark in many many disciplines of riding and driving, this post is specifically for 3 and 5 gaited show horses.
The next 2 pictures are the epitome of the American Saddlebred as a show horse.
When a show breeder sizes up their young horses they look for how they move naturally. Some Saddlebreds have a more up and down movement, sometimes referred to as sewing machine motion. They look like a square. Very upright, very animated in motion in both the front and in the hocks. Their neck is long and elegant like this 3-gaited horse.
Other Saddlebreds have a more forward movement. They have a natural propensity to amble and can easily be taught the 2 extra man-made gaits, slow-gait and rack. Essentially, these are almost the same gait, but at different speeds. A true rack is when the Saddlebred is supporting all of his weight on one single foot at a time, hence the term single-footing. If you look at this 5-gaited show horse, his body looks more like a parallelogram instead of a square. Notice that both horses in these 2 pictures are trotting .. but see how different they look.
..and here is my beloved Oliver (reg. Heaven & Earth). Oliver, although gaited is in my opinion a better 3-gaited (pleasure) show horse. He is classified as cute, bright, and while he may not be as animated as the above horses...my boy is worth his weight in GOLD!!Now, I am not saying that I would not love to try working a more animated show horse aside. If an opportunity came my way, well I am not one to shy away from a chance like that.. and will be sure to share it with you as well!