The American Saddlebred is ideally suited for all types of competition as well as recreation and pleasure. His beauty, charm and adaptability to any task makes the Saddlebred owner proud to be the horse's partner in any setting. He carries himself with an attitude that is elusive of description —some call it “class,” presence, quality, style, or charm. This superior air distinguishes his every movement.
The ideal American Saddlebred is well-proportioned and presents a beautiful overall picture. The animal should be in good flesh, with good muscle tone and a smooth, glossy coat. Masculinity in stallions and femininity in mares are important and should be taken into consideration. The average height is 15 to 16 hands and the weight 500 - 600kg. Any colour is acceptable (including pinto's), except appaloosa.
Photo: Gaines Denmark - an influential historical stallion, photo courtesy ASHA archives.
The American Saddlebred should be easily identified and individuals should possess "type" so that they are not confused with another breed. The American Saddlebred should possess QUALITY: he should have clean, dense bones that are both fine and yet indicating substance. His tendons and joints should be sharply defined, his hair fine and he should have the general appearance of refinement. He should be of gentle disposition, be both active and intelligent and generally be of good temperament.
His head should be carried relatively high; size and dimensions in proportion, with clear-cut features, well-chiselled, smooth jaw line. The head should be well-shaped with large, wide-set expressive eyes, gracefully shaped, perhaps pointed ears set close together on top of the head and carried alertly; a straight face line with a relatively fine muzzle and large nostrils and a clean and smooth jaw line.
The American Saddlebred should have a long and supple neck, rising out of well defined and prominent withers, which extend well into the back. The neck should be arched and well-flexed at the poll with a fine, clean throatlatch. He should have deep, sloping shoulders that are long and muscular.
The front leg should set well forward under the shoulder. The line of the hind leg, in a natural stance, should be vertical from the point of the buttock to the back edge of the cannon bone. The forearms and hindquarters should be well muscled to the knees and hocks. His forearms should be long and descend to straight and deep knees. His legs should be straight with broad flat bones, short cannons, sharply defined tendons and long, smooth and sloping pasterns (45 degrees for the front legs ideally, but should match the angle of the shoulder). His hooves should be sound and open at the heel, neither toed in nor toed out, with large elastic frogs and wide heels.
His chest should be medium-wide and deep and his flanks deep and long, with a low underline and not tucked. His back should be strong, level and broad, with well sprung, long and close ribs. He should have a long and level croup with a well carried tail coming out high. His hips should be broad, round and smooth, set on full, muscular thighs. The American Saddlebred should possess broad and muscular gaskins and his hocks should be straight, wide, point prominent, deep, clean-cut, smooth and well-supported.
The American Saddlebred has long been used to improve other breeds - to give them height, refinement, length of neck, a great "can do" attitude and also to add colour.
Two of the Saddlebred crosses are breeds within their own right, the National Show Horse (Saddlebred x Arab) and the Georgian Grande (Saddlebred x Draft Horse/Traditional Gypsy Cob).
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