Icelandic Horse - Origin Iceland

Breed Information

The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small, at times pony-sized, most registeries for the Icelandic refer to it as a horse. Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy. In their native country they have few diseases; Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. The Icelandic displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The only breed of horse in Iceland, they are also popular internationally, and sizable populations exist in Europe and North America. The breed is still used for traditional sheepherding work in its native country, as well as for leisure, showing, racing.Iceland by Norse settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries, the breed is mentioned in literature and historical records throughout Icelandic history; the first reference to a named horse appears in the 12th century. Horses were venerated in Norse Mythology, a custom brought to Iceland by the country's earliest settlers. Selective breeding over the centuries has developed the breed into its current form. Natural selection has also played a role, as the harsh Icelandic climate eliminated many horses through cold and starvation. In the 1780s, much of the breed was wiped out in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption at Laki. The first breed society for the Icelandic horse was created in Iceland in 1904, and today the breed is represented by organizations in 19 different nations, organized under a parent association, the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations.

Breed Characteristics

Icelandic horses weigh between 330 and 380 kilograms (730 and 840 lb) and stand an average of 13 and 14 hands (52 and 56 inches, 132 and 142 cm) high, which is often considered pony size, but breeders and breed registries always refer to Icelandics as horses. Several theories have been put forward as to why Icelandics are always called horses, among them the breed's spirited temperament and large personality. Another theory suggests that the breed's weight, bone structure and weight-carrying abilities mean it can be classified as a horse, rather than a pony. The breed comes in many coat colours, including chestnut, dun, bay, black, gray, palomino, pinto and roan. There are over 100 names for various colors and color patterns in the Icelandic language. They have well-proportioned heads, with straight profiles and wide foreheads. The neck is short, muscular, and broad at the base; the withers broad and low; the chest deep; the shoulders muscular and slightly sloping; the back long; the croup broad, muscular, short and slightly sloping. The legs are strong and short, with relatively long cannon bones and short pasterns. The mane and tail are full, with coarse hair, and the tail is set low. The breed is known to be hardy and an easy keeper. The breed has a double coat developed for extra insulation in cold temperatures.

Characteristics differ between various groups of Icelandic horses, depending on the focus of individual breeders. Some focus on animals for pack and draft work, which are conformationally distinct from those bred for work under saddle, which are carefully selected for their ability to perform the traditional Icelandic gaits. Others are bred solely for horsemeat. Some breeders focus on favored coat colors.

Members of the breed are not usually ridden until they are four years old, and structural development is not complete until age seven. Their most productive years are between eight and eighteen, although they retain their strength and stamina into their twenties. An Icelandic mare that lived in Denmark reached a record age of 56, while another horse, living in Great Britain, reached the age of 42. The horses are highly fertile, and both sexes are fit for breeding up to age 25; mares have been recorded giving birth at age 27. The horses tend to not be easily spooked, probably the result of not having any natural predators in their native Iceland. Icelandics tend to be friendly, docile and easy to handle, although also enthusiastic and self-assured. As a result of their isolation from other horses, disease in the breed within Iceland is mostly unknown, except for some kinds of internal parasites. The low prevalence of disease in Iceland is maintained by laws preventing horses exported from the country being returned, and by requiring that all equine equipment taken into the country be either new and unused or fully disinfected. As a result, native horses have no acquired immunity to disease; an outbreak on the island would be likely to be devastating to the breed. This presents problems with showing native Icelandic horses against others of the breed from outside the country, as no livestock of any species can be imported into Iceland, and once horses leave the country they are not allowed to return.


The Icelandic is a "five-gaited" breed, known for its sure-footedness and ability to cross rough terrain. As well as the typical gaits of walk, trot, and canter/gallop, the breed is noted for its ability to perform two additional gaits. Although most horse experts consider the canter and gallop to be separate gaits, on the basis of a small variation in the footfall pattern, Icelandic breed registries consider the canter and gallop one gait, hence the term "five-gaited".

The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait known as the tölt. This is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it is also comfortable and ground-covering. There is considerable variation in style within the gait, and thus the tölt is variously compared to similar lateral gaits such as the rack of the Saddlebred, the largo of the Paso Fino, or the running walk of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Like all lateral ambling gaits, the footfall pattern is the same as the walk (left hind, left front, right hind, right front), but differs from the walk in that it can be performed at a range of speeds, from the speed of a typical fast walk up to the speed of a normal canter. Some Icelandic horses prefer to tölt, while others prefer to trot; correct training can improve weak gaits, but the tölt is a natural gait present from birth. There are two varieties of the tölt that are considered incorrect by breeders. The first is an uneven gait called a "Pig's Pace" or "Piggy-pace" that is closer to a two-beat pace than a four-beat amble. The second is called a Valhoppand is a tölt and canter combination most often seen in untrained young horses or horses that mix their gaits. Both varieties are normally uncomfortable to ride.

The breed also performs a pace called a skeið, flugskeið or "flying pace". It is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). Not all Icelandic horses can perform this gait; animals that perform both the tölt and the flying pace in addition to the traditional gaits are considered the best of the breed. The flying pace is a two-beat lateral gait with a moment of suspension between footfalls; each side has both feet land almost simultaneously (left hind and left front, suspension, right hind and right front). It is meant to be performed by well-trained and balanced horses with skilled riders. It is not a gait used for long-distance travel. A slow pace is uncomfortable for the rider and is not encouraged when training the horse to perform the gait. Although most pacing horses are raced in harness using sulkies, in Iceland horses are raced while ridden.


The ancestors of the Icelandic horse were probably taken to Iceland by Viking Age Scandinavians between 860 and 935 AD. The Norse settlers were followed by immigrants from Norse colonies in Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Western Isles of Scotland. These later settlers arrived with the ancestors of what would elsewhere become Shetland, Highland, and Connemara ponies, which were crossed with the previously imported animals. There may also have been a connection with the Yakut pony, and the breed has physical similarities to the Nordlandshest of Norway. Other breeds with similar characteristics include the Faroe pony of the Faeroe Islands and the Norwegian Fjord horse Genetic analyses have revealed links between the Mongolian horse and the Icelandic horse. Mongolian horses are believed to have been originally imported from Russia by Swedish traders; this imported Mongol stock subsequently contributed to the Fjord, Exmoor, Scottish Highland, Shetland and Connemara breeds, all of which have been found to be genetically linked to the Icelandic horse.

About 900 years ago, attempts were made to introduce eastern blood into the Icelandic, resulting in a degeneration of the stock. In 982 AD the Icelandic Althing (parliament) passed laws prohibiting the importation of horses into Iceland, thus ending crossbreeding. The breed has now been bred Pure in Iceland for more than 1,000 years.

The earliest Norse people venerated the horse as a symbol of fertility, and white horses were slaughtered at sacrificial feats and ceramonies. When these settlers arrived in Iceland, they brought their beliefs, and their horses, with them. Horses played a significant part in Norse Mythology, and several horses played major roles in the Norse myths, among them the eight-footed pacer named Sleipnir, owned by Odin, chief of the Norse gods. Skalm, a mare who is the first Icelandic horse known by name, appeared in the Book of Settlements from the 12th century. According to the book, a cheiftain named Seal-Thorir founded a settlement at the place where Skalm stopped and lay down with her pack. Horses also play key roles in the Icelandic SagasHrafnkel's SAga , Njal's Saga and Grettir's Saga. Although written in the 13th century, these three sagas are set as far back as the 9th century. This early literature has an influence today, with many riding clubs and horse herds in modern Iceland still bearing the names of horses from Norse mythology.

Horses were often considered the most prized possession of a medieval Icelander. Indispensable to warriors, war horses were sometimes buried alongside their fallen riders, and stories were told of their deeds. Icelanders also arranged for bloody fights between stallions; these were used for entertainment and to pick the best animals for breeding, and they were described in both literature and official records from the Commonwealth Period of 930 to 1262 AD. Stallion fights were an important part of Icelandic culture, and brawls, both physical and verbal, among the spectators were common. The conflicts at the horse fights gave rivals a chance to improve their political and social standing at the expense of their enemies and had wide social and political repercussions, sometimes leading to the restructuring of political alliances. However, not all human fights were serious, and the events provided a stage for friends and even enemies to battle without the possibility of major consequences. Courting between young men and women was also common at horse fights.

Natural selection played a major role in the development of the breed, as large numbers of horses died from lack of food and exposure to the elements. Between 874 and 1300 AD, during the more favorable climatic conditions of the medieval warm period, Icelandic breeders selectively bred horses according to special rules of color and conformation. From 1300 to 1900, selective breeding became less of a priority; the climate was often severe and many horses and people died. Between 1783 and 1784, around 70% of the horses in Iceland were killed by volcanic ash poisoning and starvation after the 1783 eruption of Lakagigar. The eruption lasted eight months, covered hundreds of square miles of land with lava, and rerouted or dried up several rivers. The population slowly recovered during the next hundred years, and from the beginning of the 20th century selective breeding again became important. The first Icelandic breed societies were established in 1904, and the first breed registry in Iceland was established in 1923.

Icelandics were exported to Great Britain before the 20th century to work as pit ponies in the coal mines, because of their strength and small size. However, those horses were never registered and little evidence of their existence remains. The first formal exports of Icelandic horses were to Germany in the 1940s. Great Britain's first official imports were in 1956, when a Scottish farmer, Stuart McKintosh, began a breeding program. Other breeders in Great Britain followed McKintosh's lead, and the Icelandic Horse Society of Great Britain was formed in 1986. The number of Icelandic horses exported to other nations has steadily increased since the first exports of the mid-19th century. Since 1969, multiple societies have worked together to preserve, improve and market these horses under the auspices of the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations. Today, the Icelandic remains a breed known for its purity of bloodline, and is the only horse breed present in Iceland.

The Icelandic is especially popular in western Europe, Scandinavia, and North America. There are about 80,000 Icelandic horses in Iceland (compared to a human population of 317,000), and around 100,000 abroad. Almost 50,000 are in Germany, which has many active riding clubs and breed societies.


Icelandic horses still play a large part in Icelandic life, despite increasing mechanization and road improvements that diminish the necessity for the breed's use. The first official Icelandic horse race was held at Akureyri in 1874, and many races are still held throughout the country from April through June. Both gallop and pace races are held, as well as performance classes showcasing the breed's unique gaits. Winter events are often held, including races on frozen bodies of water. In 2009 such an event resulted in both horses and riders falling into the water and needing to be rescued. The first shows, focused on the quality of animals as breeding stock, were held in 1906. The Agricultural Society of Iceland, along with the National Association of Riding Clubs, now organizes regular shows with a wide variety of classes. Some horses are still bred for slaughter, and much of the meat is exported to Japan. Farmers still use the breed to round up sheep in the Icelandic highlands, but most horses are used for competition and leisure riding.


Today, the Icelandic horse is represented by associations in 19 countries, with the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations (FEIF) serving as a governing international parent organization. The FEIF was founded on May 25, 1969, with six countries as original members: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. France and Norway joined in 1971, and Belgium and Sweden in 1975. Later, Finland, Canada, Great Britain, USA, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Italy, Slovenia and Ireland became members, but Ireland subsequently left because of a lack of members. New Zealand has been given the status of "associate member" as its membership base is small. In 2000, WorldFengur was established as the official FEIF registry for Icelandic horses. The registry is a web database program that is used as a studbook to track the history and bloodlines of the Icelandic breed. The registry contains information on the pedigree, breeder, owner, offspring, photo, breeding evaluations and assessments, and unique identification of each horse registered. The database was established by the Icelandic government in cooperation with the FEIF. Since its inception, around 300,000 Icelandic horses, living and dead, have been registered worldwide. The ISlandpferde-Reiter- und Zuchterverband is an organization of German riders and breeders of Icelandic horses and the association of all Icelandic horse clubs in Germany.

Source - Wikipedia

Lotto von Svada Kol Kir standing at Litli Stadur stud

Lotto von Svada Kol Kir standing at Litli Stadur stud

Hackney Pony - Origin England

Breed Information

The Hackney pony is a breed of pony closely related to the Hackney horse. Originally bred to pull carriages, they are used today primarily as show ponies. The breed does not have its own stud book, but shares one with the Hackney horse in all countries that have an official Hackney Stud Book Registry. 


The Hackney Pony was originally developed by Christopher Wilson. He used Sir George, a Hackney stallion foaled in 1866, to breed with Fell pony mares, and then interbred the offspring to make a fixed type of pony. He desired to create not a miniaturized horse, but rather a true pony with such characteristics. Extracting the large trot and other characteristics of the hackney horse and applying them to this true type of pony, he was successful in creating the form which was desired. This is one case of an entire type of breed that is formed in a controlled, private environment. In addition to the mixing of Fell ponies and Hackney horses, the Hackney Pony probably also has much Welsh pony blood.

First known as Wilson Ponies, they were usually kept out all year, wintering in the inhospitable Fells with little food or care. This developed the breed's great toughness and endurance. By the 1880s the breed was established, and was very much liked for its great trotting ability and class.

The breed was used in Great Britain as carriage horses and were also imported into the United States. They were considered to be very stylish to drive during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when automobiles were still uncommon. After horses were replaced by cars as a primary means of transportation, Hackney ponies, along with many other horse breeds, were deemed unable to contribute to society and declined considerably. After World War II, however, the Hackney pony developed into primarily a show pony, and remain being bred for that purpose today. Thus their drastic decline in numbers and plight toward extinction came to an end, and the breed was popularized once again.

Many Hackney pony breeders today continue to develop a quality, refined pony. In the United States, Hackney ponies have also had considerable influence on the American version of the Shetland pony. They were crossbred with Shetlands to produce the American Shetland show pony of today, a type which displays many of the refined characteristics of the Hackney pony. The Hackney has also influenced the miniature horse, adding refinement and action.


General Appearance

The Hackney pony may not be above 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) and usually range between 12 and 14 hh. It should have true pony characteristics, and should not be a scaled down version of the Hackney Horse. The pony should have a small pony head, carried high, with alert and pricked ears and large, intelligent eyes. The neck should be muscular, arched, and carried proudly. Hackney ponies should have powerful shoulders, a compact back, and a light frame. The legs are strong with good joints, but the bone is usually fine. The feet are very hard, and are usually allowed to grow long in the toe to accentuate the action of the pony. The tail is often set and is carried high. They usually have even more exaggerated action than the Hackney horse, knees rising as high as possible and hocks coming right under the body. The action should be fluid, spectacular, and energetic.


Hackney ponies may be black, bay (which includes brown), or chestnut. Bay is by far the most common color, but black is also relatively common. Chestnuts, on the other hand, are extremely rare; their color is usually particularly light, and chestnut ponies often possess flaxen manes and tails. Many hackneys also have some white markings. Due to the sabino gene, common in the breed, the Hackney Pony may have white markings on its body as well as on its legs and head. The sabino gene (possibly a gene complex), is generally unpredictable, so breeding solely for body white marks can be difficult.


The Hackney Pony also has a reputation for being tenacious and fearless, qualities that are seen in top-tier show ponies. They are very brave, alert, and active, and possess great stamina. Generally, they have pony character. Hackneys have a reputation for being friendly toward humans, and are suitable for both show and as companion animals.

Show Types

In the show ring, the Hackney pony is most commonly seen being driven in harness. They are also shown under saddle, usually as road ponies, and in hand as weanlings or yearlings. The Hackney pony division recognizes six categories of harness exhibition: Hackney Pony (cob tail), Harness Pony, Hackney Roadster, Park Pleasure Driving, Show Pleasure Driving, and Country Pleasure Driving. Their world's championship is the Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and their national championship is the American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri.

Most classes require both a “Park Trot,” executed in a highly collected manner and then exhibitors are given the command, “Show your pony,” which permits an increase in speed to exhibit each pony to its best advantage. Excessive speed is undesirable and is penalized.

Hackney Roaster

Hackney roadsters, or Road ponies, like roadsters, are shown to a two-wheel bike, or sulky. The driver always wears racing silks, usually with their barn represented by the colors of the silks. Road ponies are judged upon their action when trotting, as well as their speed, conformation, and temperament.

In addition to being shown with a bike, road ponies are shown under saddle by junior exhibitors or hooked to a four-wheel wagon. Wagon classes are relatively new but growing in popularity; the World's Championship Horse Show offered a wagon class for the first time in 2006.

Hackney (Cobtail) Pony

In the Cobtail pony division, ponies are shown with a tightly braided mane and appear to have a docked tail(though usually created only by trimming the tail short, not actual docking). They are generally taller, for any height of pony is permitted to show in the division as long as it is still a pony, not exceeding 14.2 hands.

Harness Ponies

Harness ponies are perhaps the most elegant and beautiful of the hackney ponies. Whereas speed is a major factor among road ponies, harness ponies should be more collected, exhibiting a very animated and airy trot. A Hackney must be smaller to show in the harness pony division, because it is required that the pony be 12.2 hands (50 inches, 127 cm) or under. They are shown to a four-wheel viceroy and possess a full mane and tail. The typical apparel for driving harness ponies is a suit for men, and a dress or other formal wear for women.

Pleasure Ponies

There are also three pleasure driving classes for the breed, Park Pleasure, Show Pleasure, and Country Pleasure. There are no height requirements except that the Hackney be a pony, and the pony can have a long or docked tail. Pleasure ponies are shown to a two-wheeled cart, and the driver usually wears more casual dress. They are shown at a road gait, pleasure trot, and flat walk. Temperament is a more primary factor for judges; the pleasure pony should indeed be a pleasure to drive.

Other Types

Some Hackney ponies are shown in one or two pairs in harness, though classes which are designated for this are fairly rare.

Source - Wikipedia


Peruvian Paso - Origin Peru

Breed Information

 The Peruvian Paso or Peruvian Horse is a breed of light saddle horse known for its smooth ride. It is distinguished by a natural, four-beat, lateral gait called the paso llano. This breed is protected by the Peruvian government through Decree number 25919 of Peru enacted on November 28, 1992, and has been declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the National Institute of Culture (INC). Due to the isolation suffered for about 400 years and the selection made by their breeders, this breed is very particular in their body proportions and an ambling gait or "paso llano" that is characteristic. It is typical of the northern Peruvian regions of the country from which it originated. Trujillo city is considered the "Cradle of typical Peruvian Paso Horse."


Smooth-gaited horses, generally known as Palfreys, existed in the Middles Ages, and the Jennet in particular was noted for its ambling gaits. Peruvian Pasos trace their ancestry to these ambling Jennets; as well as to the Barb, which contributed strength and stamina; and to the Andalusian which added style, conformation and action.

Horses arrived in South America during the Spanish Conquest, beginning with the arrival of Pizzaro in 1531. Foundation bloodstock came from Spain, Jamaica, Panama and other areas of Central America. Importations increased after 1542, when the Spanish created the Viceroyalty of New Castilla. This later became the Vice royality of Peru, an important center of Spain's New World colonies in the eighteenth century.

Don Pedro Venturo Zapata was a major breeder of the Paso horse in his "Hacienda Hiquereta y Anexos - Negociacion Vinicola PEdro Venturo S.A." from 1925 to 1952.

Once in Peru, they were used primarily for transportation and breeding stock. In the north of Peru, the vast size of sugar and cotton plantations meant that overseers needed to travel long distances, often taking days to cross the plantation. In the south of Peru, the arid deserts that separated settlements required sturdy, strong horses. In both cases, smooth-gaited horses with good endurance were required. On the other hand, Peru did not develop a livestock-based economy, and thus did not need to breed for the speed or agility characteristic of stock horses.

Over time, Peruvian breeders kept the bloodlines clean and selectively bred primarily for gait, conformation, and temperament. They wanted strong, hardy animals that were comfortable to ride and easy to control. Over four centuries, their dedication to breeding only the best gaited bloodstock resulted in the modern Peruvian Paso.

A decline in the use of the Peruvian Paso horse was seen in the southern part of Peru in the early 1900s, following the building of major highways that allowed motor travel to replace the use of the horse. Many of the major breeders in the area gave their best horses away to peasants living in the nearby quebradas (valleys). It was in one of these quebradas that breeder Gustavo de la Borda found the horse that was to become the most important modern sire in the breed, Sol de Oro (Viejo).

The Peruvian Paso continued to flourish in the northern regions because it was still needed for transportation on the haciendas. This changed with the harsh Agrarian Reforms instituted by the government of Juan Velasco Alvarado in the late 1960s that had a devastating effect on the Peruvian Paso horse within Peru. Major breeding operations were broken up and breeding stock was lost. Because interest in the Peruvian Paso horse was growing in the United States and Central America at the same time, many of the finest Peruvian Paso horses were exported, leading to a period where it appeared the Peruvian Paso horse would fade in its homeland.

The past thirty years have seen a resurgence in the Peruvian Paso horse's fortune in Peru. The annual National Show in Lima is a major event in Peruvian cultural life. The Peruvian Paso has been declared a Patrimonio Cultural (Cultural Heritage) of Peru in an attempt to shore up the breed within the country. There are now laws in place that restrict the export of national champion horses.

Peruvian Paso horses are noted internationally for their good temperament and comfortable ride. As of 2003, there are approximately 25,000 horses worldwide, used for pleasure riding, trail, horse shows, parades, and endurance riding.



The horse is medium-sized, usually standing between 14.1 to 15.2 hands (57 to 62 inches, 145 to 157 cm) tall, with an elegant yet powerful build. The Peruvian horse has a deep chest, heavy neck and body with substance without any trace of being hound gutted in the flank area. A low set, quiet tail, clamped tightly between the buttocks is a vital quality. Stallions have a broader chest and larger neck than mares, and are known for their quality temperament. The coat colour can be varied; and is seen in chestnut, black, bay, brown, buckskin, palomino, gray, roan or dun. Solid colors, grays and dark skin are considered the most desirable. The mane and forelock are lustrous, fine and abundant. White markings are acceptable on the legs and face.


Instead of a trot, the Peruvian Paso performs an ambling four beat gait between the walk and the canter. It is a lateral gait, in that it has four equal beats and is performed laterally — left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore.

The Peruvian Paso performs two variations of the four-beat gait. The first, the paso llano (a contraction of Paso Castellano), is isochronous, meaning that there are four equal beats in a 1-2-3-4 rhythm. This is the preferred gait. The second gait, the sobreandando, is faster. Instead of four equal beats, the lateral beats are closer together in a 1-2, 3-4 rhythm, with the pause between the forefoot of one side to the rear of the other side is longer.

This characteristic gait was utilized for the purpose of covering long distances over a short period of time without tiring the horse or rider. The gait is natural and does not require extensive training. Purebred Peruvian Paso foals can be seen gaiting alongside their dams within a few hours of their birth.

The gait supplies essentially none of the vertical bounce that is characteristic of the trot, and hence posting (moving up and down with each of the horse's footfalls) is unnecessary. It is also very stable, as the execution of the gait means there are always two, and sometimes three, feet on the ground. Because the rider feels no strain or jolt, gaited horses such as the Peruvian Paso are often popular with riders who have back trouble.


A unique trait of the Peruvian Paso gait is termino — an outward swinging leg action, originating from the shoulder, in which the front lower legs roll to the outside during the stride forward, similar to a swimmer's arms. Individual horses may have more or less termino. High lift or wide termino is not necessarily a sign of a well gaited horse; in fact it may be detrimental to a good gait.


Brio refers to a horse’s vigor, energy, exuberance, courage and liveliness; it automatically implies that these qualities are willingly placed in the service of the rider. Horses with true brio are willing workers. Their attention does not wander but is focused on the handler or rider, and thus they are quick to react and fast to learn. Horses with brio attract attention, and combined with the stamina of the breed have reserves they can tap to travel long distances for many hours.

Breeders and judges look for Brio, often translated as "spirit," but this does not capture the complexity of the term. Brio describes a somewhat contradictory temperament, which combines arrogance, spirit, and the sense of always being on parade, with a willingness to please the rider. Brio is an intangible quality of controlled energy that creates a Metamorphosis in ordinary-looking horses and is an important trait of the Peruvian Paso.

Genetic Conditions

Degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD) is a connective tissue disorder akin to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome now being researched in all breeds of horse, but was originally noted in the Peruvian Paso. Originally thought to be a condition of overwork and older age, the disease is now recognized as hereditary and has been seen in horses of all ages, including foals. The latest research has led to the renaming of the disease after the possible systemic and hereditary components now being delineated by the University of Georgia. Equine Systemic Proteoglycan Accumulation.

Peruvian Paso Horses

Competitions are organized by the Association of Breeders and Owners of Peruvian Paso Horses. The two best-known and most important events are The National Horse Competition Caballo de Paso Peruano held in Pachacamac and at the International de la Primavera  during the months of September and October in Trujillo city and during the international Marinera Festival in January. Peru's National Institute of Culture has declared that the horses are part of Peru's national cultural heritage.


Because of the shared word Paso, a close relationship between the Peruvian Paso and the Paso Fino breed is incorrectly assumed. "Paso" simply means "step," in Spanish, and does not imply a common breed or origin. Although the two breeds share ancestors in the Old World, and have some similarities, they were developed independently for different purposes. The two breeds are different and easily distinguishable. The Peruvian is somewhat larger, deeper in the body and wider. The Paso Fino is not bred for "termino" in its stride.

The Peruvian Paso has been called the "national horse" of Peru. On the other hand, the Paso Fino was developed from horses throughout northern Latin America and the Caribbean, with major centers of development in Colombia and Puerto Rico. The Peruvian Paso is also increasingly referred to in North America as the "Peruvian Horse" in an attempt to differentiate its breed from that of the Paso Fino.

Source - Wikipedia

RDLF Sol de la Florecita owned by City View Peruvians

RDLF Sol de la Florecita owned by City View Peruvians

Paso Fino - Puerto Rico

Breed Information

The Paso Fino is a naturally gaited light horse breed dating back to horses imported to the Carribean from Spain. Pasos are prized for their smooth, natural, four-beat, lateral ambling gait; they are used in many disciplines, but are especially popular for trail riding. In the United States two main groups of horses are popularly called "Paso Fino": One, also known as the Pure Puerto Rican Paso Fino (PPR), originated in Puerto Rico. The other, often called the Colombian Paso Fino or Colombian Criollo Horse (CCC), developed in Colombia. Though from similar Spanish ancestors, the two groups developed independently of one another in their home nations.

These two groups have been frequently crossbred in the United States and Europe. In recent years, a trend has developed favouring preservation breeding to preserve the undiluted bloodlines of each group.



The Paso Fino name means 'fine step'. The Paso Fino is a blend of the Barb, Spanish Jennet, and Andalusian horse and was bred by Spanish land owners in Puerto Rico and Colombia to be used in the plantations because of their endurance and comfortable ride. All Pasos share their heritage with the Peruvian Paso, the American Mustangs, and other descendants of Colonial Spanish Horses. Puerto Rican and Colombian horses, as well as Paso Finos from Cuba and other tropical countries, have been interbred frequently in the United States to produce the modern American Paso Fino show horse.

On the second voyage of Christopher Columbis from Spain to the Americas in 1493, he disembarked with his soldiers, 20 horses and 5 mares on the island of Borinquen at the bay of Aguada (today Anasco), and gave the region the name San Juan Bautista. Soon after, in May 1509, the first Leon, brought horses to Puerto Rico from his hacienda, El Higuey, located on the neighboring island of La Española (now Hispanolia).

Puerto Rican Paso Fino

The Puerto Rican Paso Fino was developed on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico over a 500-year colonial period. Island geography and the desires of a people for hardy, sure-footed, comfortable horses led to the independent development of the breed. Frenchman Andres Pedro Ledru, in a notation about horse races held on the 17 of July, 1797, wrote that the speed of these indigenous horses was admirable, "they have no trot or gallop, but a type of pace (Andadura). A gait so precipitated that the eye can't follow the movement of the legs." As early as 1849, Paso Fino competitions were held in Puerto Rico, with prizes for winners, for the purpose of improving local horses. In 1882 the first racetrack was built, and in every race meet, there were Paso Fino and Andadura categories.

According to Ramirez de Arellano, when the United States invaded Puerto Rico, the Paso Fino played a first order role in transportation as well as agricultural work. Manchado, a notable horse of the time owned by Don Nicolás Quiñones Cabezudo of Caguas, was said to be "so fine that it gaited at liberty without its rider in the town square when asked." 

In 1927 the most influential sire in the modern Puerto Rican Paso Fino breed, Dulce Sueño, was born in Guayama. In 1943, the Federation of the Sport of Paso Fino Horses of Puerto Rico and a breed registry were established. Copita Don Q, a Dulce Sueño grandson, was the winner of the first annual Federation contest in 1943. In an agricultural almanac published in 1947, Gustavo A Ramirez de Arellano wrote, "at present the descendants of the famous stallion "Dulce Sueño" are the ones who have most obtained titles and trophies from the association of owners of saddle horses." 

Colombian Paso

Importation and Development in the United States

The rise of the Paso Fino in the United States began in the 1950s and 1960s. The first Paso Finos in the United States were imported by members of the armed services, who purchased the horses while stationed in Puerto Rico. This stock provided some of the first Paso Finos bred in the United States.

Colombian Pasos came to the United States beginning with a rancher who visited Colombia and purchased quite a number of the horses to work his cattle. He introduced the second strain into the US. While the two strains are still bred individually to retain their purity, they are also crossbred to produce the best of both strains.

Today, the Paso Fino Horse Association (PFHA) oversees and regulates registered Paso Finos in the US. It was founded in 1972 under the name "American Paso Finos", later changing to its current name. It registers and promotes both Puerto Rican and Colombian horses, and under the PFHA, the two groups have been frequently crossbred. As the numbers of Colombian horses have begun to significantly outnumber those of Puerto Rican bloodlines, a trend has developed favoring preservation breeding to preserve the bloodlines of each group.

The American Trote & Trocha Association formed to promote the horses, primarily of Colombian breeding, that perform a diagonal ambling gait known as the "Trocha". The Trocha differs from the classic lateral ambling gait of the Paso Fino.


The Paso Fino tends to be refined, standing an average of 13 to 15.2 hands (52 to 62 inches, 132 to 157 cm) but is powerful for its size. It has a convex head, clean legs and a relatively short back with prominent withers. Cannon bones tend to be short and the hooves are hard. The Paso Fino often has a thick mane and tail. It is found in all horse colors and there are no restrictions by the various breed associations.

The action of the two strains is somewhat different. The Puerto Rican Paso Fino is prized for its fine or delicate step, while the Colombian Paso Fino tends to have more of a rapid, piston-like action.

This is a lively horse that has a natural drive and willingness, known colloquially as "brio", and generally an amiable disposition. Paso Finos come in a variety of colors, sizes and body types, but the even four-beat gait and brio are present in all good representatives of the breed. Some lineages of the breed are known to have higher incidence of degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD).


The Paso Fino executes a natural evenly spaced four-beat lateral ambling gait, similar to many gaited horses. Both the Colombian and the Puerto Rican strains of the Paso Fino execute the lateral gait naturally, without the aid of training devices.

The Paso Fino's gaits are performed at varied levels of extension in stride. All four hooves travel close to the ground while in motion and are lifted equally in height as the horse covers ground. At whatever speed the horse travels, the smoothness of the gait ideally allows the rider to appear motionless with little up and down movement.

  • The classic fino or paso fino is a collected gait with rapid footfalls that covers as little ground as possible. It requires a high degree of collection. This is a show gait reserved for competition. Walking, trotting, cantering or any detected break from the rapid evenly spaced sequence of steps is grounds for disqualification at any time during a fino event.
  • The paso corto is slightly more extended, and used during trail rides. The speed of this gait is comparable to the speed of a trot but is much smoother.
  • The paso largo is a fast, lateral, four-beat gait in which the horse can reach speeds equivalent to a canter or slow gallop. The paso largo is not just an increase in speed but also shows a distinct extension in stride. The paso largo can be extremely fast, up to 25-30 mph.

Only a few Paso Finos can perform a true classic fino, but the majority perform the other gaits with ease. The correctness of the gait is very important by today's standards, therefore horses with a very even four-beat gait are much preferred for professional breeding.

In Colombia, some related native horses perform a slightly different, unevenly timed diagonal four-beat gait, known as the trocha, which is similar to the fox trot, and very smooth. While some Paso Finos will perform the trocha, it is discouraged and considered a fault in the purebred Paso Fino. In Colombia the "trocha" has evolved, becoming a separate genealogical line. It is inherited in a manner similar to the lateral ambling gaits of the purebred Paso Fino. Trocha rivals in popularity with paso fino in Colombia, but crossbreeding is now avoided. Another Colombian breed performs what is known as trote y galope. The trote y galope horses perform an exaggerated diagonal two-beat trot and a very collected canter, but they do share some common heritage with the Paso Fino. Not as well known as Paso Fino, these variants are just beginning to be recognized in the United States.


Paso Finos are versatile and are used in many disciplines. They are often seen competing in Western classes such as trail, barrel racing, versatility and team penning, and are also commonly used for trail riding and endurance competitions, driving and gymkhana.

Source - Wikipedia


Tennessee Walking Horse - Origin Tennessee, USA

Breed Information

The Tennessee Walking Horse or Tennessee Walker is a breed of gaited horse known for its unique four-beat running-walk and flashy movement. It was originally developed in the southern United States for use on farms and plantations. It is a popular riding horse due to its calm disposition, smooth gaits and sure-footedness. The Tennessee Walking Horse is often seen in the show ring, but is also popular as a pleasure and trail riding horse using both English and Western equipment. Tennessee Walkers are also seen in movies, television shows and other performances.

The breed was developed beginning in the late 18th century when Narragansett Pacers and Canadian Pacers from the eastern United States were crossed with gaited Spanish Mustangs from Texas. Other breeds were later added, and in 1886 a foal named Black Allan was born. He is now considered the foundation sire of the breed. In 1935 the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' Association was formed, and it closed the studbook in 1947. In 1939, the first Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was held.

In the early 21st century, this annual event has attracted considerable attention and controversy, because of efforts to prevent abuse of horses that was practiced to enhance their performance in the show ring.

The two basic categories of Tennessee Walking Horse show competition are called "flat-shod" and "performance", distinguished by desired leg action. Flat-shod horses, wearing regular horseshoes, exhibit less exaggerated movement. Performance horses are shod with built-up pads or "stacks", along with other weighted action devices, creating the so-called "Big Lick" style. The United States Equestrian Federation and some breed organizations now prohibit the use of stacks and action devices at shows they sanction.

In addition, the Tennessee Walking Horse is the breed most affected by the Horse Protection Act of 1970. It prohibits the practice of soring, abusive practices which were used to enhance the Big Lick movement prized in the show ring. Despite the law, some horses are still being abused. The controversy over continuing soring practices has led to a split within the breed community, criminal charges against a number of individuals, and the creation of several separate breed organizations.

Breed Characteristics

The modern Tennessee Walking Horse is described as "refined and elegant, yet solidly built". It is a tall horse with a long neck. The head is well-defined, with small, well-placed ears. The breed averages 14.3 to 17 hands (59 to 68 inches, 150 to 173 cm) high and 900 to 1,200 pounds (410 to 540 kg). The shoulders and hip are long and sloping, with a short back and strong coupling. The hindquarters are of "moderate thickness and depth", well-muscled, and it is acceptable for the hind legs to be slightly over-angulated, cow-hocked or sickle-hocked.

They are found in all solid colours, and several pinto patterns. Common colors such as bay, black and chestnut are found, as are colors caused by dilutions genes such as the dun, champagne, cream and silver dapple genes. Pinto patterns include overo, sabino and tobiano.

The Tennessee Walking Horse has a reputation for having a calm disposition and a naturally smooth riding gait. While the horses are famous for flashy movement, they are popular for trail and pleasure riding as well as show.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is best known for its running-walk. This is a four-beat gait with the same footfall pattern as a regular, or flat, walk, but significantly faster. While a horse performing a flat walk moves at 4 to 8 miles per hour (6.4 to 12.9 kilometres per hour), the running walk allows the same horse to travel at 10 to 20 miles per hour (16 to 32 kilometres per hour). In the running walk, the horse's rear feet overstep the prints of its front feet by 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 centimetres), with a longer overstep being more prized in the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. While performing the running walk, the horse nods its head in rhythm with its gait. Besides the flat and running walks, the third main gait performed by Tennessee Walking Horses is the canter. Some members of the breed perform other variations of lateral ambling gaits, including the rack, stepping pace, fox trot and single-foot, which are allowable for pleasure riding but penalized in the show ring. A few Tennessee Walking Horses can trot, and have a long, reaching stride.


The Tennessee Walker originated from the cross of Narragansett Pace and Canadian Pacer horses brought to Kentucky starting in 1790, with gaited Spanish Mustangs imported from Texas. These horses were bred on the limestone pastures of Middle Tennessee, and became known as "Tennessee Pacers". Originally used as all-purpose horses on plantations and farms, they were used for riding, pulling and racing. They were known for their smooth gaits and sure-footedness on the rocky Tennessee terrain. Morgan, Standardbred, Thoroughbred and American Saddledbred blood was also added to the breed through decades of breeding.

In 1886, Black Allan (later known as Allan F-1) was born. By the stallion Allendorf (from the Hambletonian family of Standardbreds) and out of a Morgan mare named Maggie Marshall, he became the foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. A failure as a trotting horse, due to his insistence on pacing, Black Allan was instead used for breeding. From his line, a foal named Roan Allen was born in 1904. Able to perform several ambling gaits, Roan Allen became a successful show horse, and in turn sired several famous Tennessee Walking Horses.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' Association was formed in 1935. To reflect interest in showing horses, the name was changed in 1974 to the current Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder's and Exhibitor's Asscoaitions (TWHBEA). The stud book was closed in 1947, meaning that since that date every Tennessee Walker must have both its dam and stud registered in order to be eligible for registration. In 1950, the United States Department of Agriculture recognized the Tennessee Walking Horse as a distinct breed.

In 2000, the Tennessee Walking Horse was named the official state horse of the US state of Tennessee. It is the third most-common breed in Kentucky, behind the Thoroughbred and the American Quarter Horse. As of 2005, 450,000 horses have been registered over the life of the TWHBEA, with annual registrations of 13,000–15,000 new foals. While the Tennessee Walking Horse is most common in the southern and southeastern US, it is found throughout the country.


The Tennessee Walker is noted for its appearance in horse show events, particularly performances in saddle seat-style English riding equipment, but is also a very popular trail riding horse. Some are used for endurance riding. To promote this use, the TWHBEA maintains an awards program in conjunction with the American Endurance Ride Conference.

In the 20th century, the Tennessee Walking Horse was crossed with Welsh Ponies to create the American Walking Pony, a gaited pony breed.

The breed has also been featured in television, movies and other performing events. The Lone Rangers's horse "Silver" was at times played by a Tennessee Walker. "Trigger, Jr.", the successor to the original "Trigger" made famous by Roy Rogers, was played by a Tennessee Walker named Allen's Gold Zephyr. The position of Traveller, mascot of the University of Southern California Trojans, was held at various times by a purebred Tennessee Walking Horse, and by a Tennessee Walker/Arabian cross.

Horse Shows

The two basic categories of Tennessee Walking Horse show competition are called "flat-shod" and "performance". Flat-shod horses compete in many different disciplines under both western and English tack. At shows where both divisions are offered, the flat-shod "plantation pleasure" division is judged on brilliance and show presence of the horses while still being well mannered, balanced, and manageable. "Park pleasure" is the most animated of the flat-shod divisions. Flat-shod horses are shown in ordinary horseshoes, and are not allowed to use pads or action devices, though their hooves are sometimes trimmed to a slightly lower angle with more natural toe than seen on stock horse breeds.

Performance horses, sometimes called "padded" or "built up", exhibit flashy and animated gaits, lifting their forelegs high off the ground with each step. This exaggerated action is sometimes called the "Big Lick". The customary style for rider attire and tack is saddle seat. Horses are shod in double and triple-nailed pads, which are sometimes called "stacks". In the early 21st century, this form of shoeing is now prohibited at shows governed by the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA), and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Artificially set tails are seen in "performance" classes, on full-grown horses in halter classes, and in some harness classes, but generally are not allowed in pleasure or flat-shod competition.

Horses in western classes are outfitted with Western saddles and related equipment similar to that used by other breeds in western pleasure classes, and exhibitors may not mix English and Western-style equipment. Riders must wear a hat or helmet in western classes.

Tennessee Walkers are also shown in both pleasure and fine harness driving classes, with grooming similar to that of the saddle seat horses. Tennessee Walking Horses are typically shown with a long mane and tail.

In classes where horses are turned out in saddle seat equipment, it is typical for the horse to be shown in a single curb bit with a bit shank under 9.5 inches (24 cm), rather than the double bridle more common to other saddle seat breeds. Riders wear typical saddle seat attire. Hats are not always mandatory, but use of safety helmets is allowed and ranges from strongly encouraged to required in some pleasure division classes.

Horse Protection Act

The showing, exhibition and sale of Tennessee Walking Horses and some other horse breeds is governed by the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA) due to concerns about the practice of soring. This developed during the 1950s and became widespread in the 1960s, resulting in a public outcry against it.Congress passed the Horse Protection Act in 1970, declaring the practice to be "cruel and inhumane". The Act prohibits anyone from entering a sored horse into a show, sale, auction or exhibition, and prohibits drivers from transporting sored horses to a sale or show.

Congress delegated statutory responsibility for enforcement to the management of sales and horse shows, but placed administration of the act with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Violations of the HPA may result in criminal charges, fines and prison sentences. The USDA certifies certain Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) to train and license Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) to complete inspections. APHIS inspection teams, which include inspectors, investigators, and veterinary medical officers, also conduct unannounced inspections of some horse shows, and have the authority to revoke the license of a DQP who does not follow the standards of the Act.

Soring is defined by the HPA with four meanings:

"(3)(A) an irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, by a person to any limb of a horse, (B) any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse, (C) any tack, nail, screw, or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse, or (D) any other substance or device has been used by a person on any limb of a horse or a person has engaged in a practice involving a horse, and, as a result of such application, infliction, injection, use, or practice, such horse suffers, or can reasonably be expected to suffer, physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking, "

Action devices, which remain legal but are often used in conjunction with illegal soring practices, are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as "any boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device which encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse in such a manner that it can either rotate around the leg, or slide up and down the leg so as to cause friction, or which can strike the hoof, coronet band or fetlock joint".

Between 1978 and 1982, Auburn University conducted research as to the effect of applications of chemical and physical irritants to the legs of Tennessee Walking Horses. The study found that chains of any weight, used in combination with chemical soring, produced lesions and pain in horses. However, chains of 6 ounces or lighter, used on their own, produced no pain, tissue damage or thermographic  changes.

Soring can be detected by observing the horse for lameness, assessing its stance and palpating the lower legs. Some trainers trick inspectors by training horses not to react to the pain that palpation may cause, often by severely punishing the horse for flinching when the sored area is touched. The practice is sometimes called "stewarding", in reference to the horse show steward. Some trainers use topical anesthetics, which are timed to wear off before the horse goes into the show ring. Pressure shoeing is also used, eliminating use of chemicals altogether. Trainers who sore their horses have been observed leaving the show grounds when they find that the more stringent federal inspection teams are present.

Although illegal under federal law for more than 40 years, soring is still practiced; criminal charges have been filed against people who violate the Act. Enforcement of the HPA is difficult, due to limited inspection budgets and problems with lax enforcement by inspectors who are hired by the shows they were to police. As a result, while in 1999 there were eight certified HIOs, by 2010, only three organizations remained certified as HIOs, all known to be actively working to end soring.

In 2013, legislation to amend and strengthen the HPA was introduced in Congress. The President and executive committee of the TWHBEA voted to support this legislation, but the full board of directors chose not to. The bi-partisan bill, H.R. 1518, was sponsored by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), with 216 co-sponsors. On November 13, 2013 a hearing was held. Supporters included the American Horse Council, the American Veterinary Medical Association, members of the TWHBEA, the International Walking Horse Association, and Friends of Sound Horses. Opponents included members of the Performance Horse Show Association, and the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture. The legislation did not pass in the 113th Congress and was reintroduced in 2015 for the 114th Congress. In 2016, the USDA proposed new rules independent of the PAST Act, banning stacks and chains, and providing stricter inspections at training barns, auctions, and shows.

Show Rules and Organisations

Controversies over shoeing rules, concerns about soring, and the breed industry's compliance with the Horse Protection Act has resulted in the development of multiple governing organizations. The breed registry is kept by the TWHBEA, which promotes all riding disciplines within the breed, but does not sanction horse shows.

The USEF does not currently recognize or sanction any Tennessee Walking Horse shows. In 2013 it banned the use of action devices and stacks at any time in any class.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Heritage Society is a group dedicated to the preservation of the original Tennessee Walker bloodlines, mainly for use as trail and pleasure horses, rather than for showing. Horses listed by the organization descend from the foundation bloodstock registered by the TWHBEA. Pedigrees may not include horses that have been shown with stacks post-1976.

Two organizations have formed to promote the exhibition of flat-shod horses. The National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) promotes only naturally gaited horses in its sanctioned horse shows, has its own rule book, and is the official USEF affiliate organization for the breed. The NWHA sanctions horse shows and licenses judges, and is an authorized HIO.

The NWHA was in the process of building its own "tracking registry" to document both pedigree and performance achievements of horses recorded there. These included the Spotted Saddle Horse and Racking Horse breeds as well as the Tennessee Walker. However, the NWHA was sued by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA), which eventually won some concessions regarding the use of the TWHBEA’s copyrighted registry certificates by the NWHA. While the judgment did not prohibit the NWHA from continuing its registry service, this is no longer advertised on the NWHA website.

Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) also promotes exhibition of flat-shod and barefoot horses. It licenses judges for both pleasure classes and gaited dressage, promotes use of gaited horses in distance riding and sport horse activities, and is an authorized HIO.

Two organizations promulgate rules for horse shows in which action devices are allowed: the Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA) and "S.H.O.W." ("Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections, Winning fairly") which regulates the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The Celebration has been held in Shelbyville, Tennessee, each August since 1939. It is considered the showcase competition for the breed. In the early 21st century, the Celebration has attracted large amounts of attention and controversy due to the concerns about violations of the Horse Protection Act.

Source - Wikipedia


Hackney Horse - Origin Norfolk, England

Breed Information

 The Hackney is a recognized breed of horse that was developed in Great Britain. In recent decades, the breeding of the Hackney has been directed toward producing horses that are ideal for carriage driving. They are an elegant high stepping breed of carriage horse that is popular for showing in harness events. Hackneys possess good stamina, and are capable of trotting at high speed for extended periods of time. 

Breed History

The Hackney Horse breed was developed in the 14th century in Norfolk when the King of England required powerful but attractive horses with an excellent trot, to be used for general purpose riding horses. Since roads were rudimentary in those times, Hackneys were a primary riding horse, riding being the common mode of equine transportation. The trotting horses were more suitable as war horses than amblers with their pacing gaits. As a result, in 1542 King Henry Vlll required his wealthy subjects keep a specified number of trotting horse stallions for breeding use.

In about 1729 a Norfolk Trotter stallion and an Arabian stallion contributed to the foundation stock for the modern Hackney Horse. The resulting Norfolk Roadster, as it was known, was a heavily built horse that was used as a work horse by farmers and others. It was also a fast horse with good stamina.

Another famous horse was the stallion Original Shales, foaled in East Anglia in 1755. He was by the stallion Blaze, the son of the famous undefeated racehorse, Flying Childers who was a grandson of the great Darley Arabian (one of the three foundation stallions of the Thoroughbred breed). Original Shales sired two stallions—Scot Shales and Driver—both of which had a great influence on the Norfolk Trotter. Messenger (GB), a 1780 grandson of Sampson, was a foundation sire of the present American Standardbred horse. Hambletonian 10 had at least three crosses of Messenger in the third and fourth generations of his pedigree (3x4x4). In the 1820s "Norfolk Cob" was recorded as having done 2 miles in 5 minutes 4 seconds and was one of the famous horses of that breed along with "Nonpareil," who was driven 100 miles in 9 hours 56 minutes 57 seconds.

In 1820 Bellfounder a Norfolk Trotter stallion who was able to trot 17 miles in an hour with 14 stone up, was exported to America where he was the damsire of Hambletonian 10. In this era, match-trotters competed under saddle, not harness. Later with improvements in roads, the Hackney was also used in harness, and he was then a riding and driving horse of high merit.

Robert and Philip Ramsdale, father and son, took the Norfolk horses Wroot's Pretender and Phenomenon to Yorkshire, where they bred them with Yorkshire trotting mares. In July 1800, the celebrated Hackney mare, Phenomenon, was backed to trot 17 miles in 56 minutes for a bet of £400, which she did in 53 minutes. In 1832, one of Phenomenon's daughters, the 14 hands Phenomena, trotted 17 miles in only 53 minutes. During the 19th century, with the expansion of the railway, the Norfolk breed fell out of favour, to be revived later by the Hackney Horse Society. The Norfolk and Yorkshire Trotter were selectively bred for elegant style and speed, and were developed into the modern Hackney Horse. The brilliant gaits of the Hackney Horse, however, saved it from extinction, and began its use in the show ring. They are still extremely successful in harness, and can also produce very nice riding horses, many known for their ability in show jumping and dressage competition.

In 1883, the Hackney Horse Society was formed in Norwich and the society’s stud book has records dating back to 1755 in the Hackney Stud Book.

Alexandra Cassatt was responsible for the introduction of the Hackney Pony to the United States. In 1878 he acquired 239 Stella in Britain and brought her to Philidelphia. In 1891, Cassatt and other Hackney enthusiasts founded the American Hackney Horse Society which is based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Hackneys come in both pony and horse height ranges, and are one of the few breeds that recognize both pony and horse sizes. The Hackney pony was developed in the late 19th century, when Hackney horses were bred to various pony breeds in order to create a very specific type of show pony.

Breed Characteristics

The Hackney Horse's height ranges from 14.2 hands (147 centimetres) to 16.2 hands (168 cm) tall. They may be any solid colour, including bay, brown, chestnut and black. Hackneys often have white markings, often due to the influence of sabino genetics.

The Hackney has a well-shaped head, sometimes with a slightly convex nose. Their eyes and ears are expressive and should show alertness. The neck is crested and muscular with a clean cut throat and jaw. The chest is broad and well-defined, the shoulder is powerful, long and gently sloping. The Hackneys have an average length of back, muscular, level croups, and powerful hindquarters. Their ribs are well-sprung. The tail is set high and carried high naturally. The legs are strong with broad, clean joints, long forearms and gaskins, with strong hocks, and pasterns medium in length, and are attached to round, fairly upright hooves.

In the trot, they exhibit showiness and an exaggerated high knee and hock action due to very good flexion of their joints. Their action should be straight and true with a distinct moment of suspension. The front legs reach up high with sharply bent knees that are stretched well forward with a ground covering stride. Their hind legs are well propelled underneath them in a similar exaggerated action. In addition to inherent soundness and endurance, the Hackney Horse has proven to be a breed with an easy, rhythmic canter, and a brisk, springy walk.

Hackneys have been exported into Australia, the United States and the Netherlands.

Source - Wikipedia


Rocky Mountain Horse - Origin Kentucky, USA

Breed Information

The Rocky Mountain Horse is a horse breed developed in the state of Kentucky in the United States. Despite its name, it originated not in the Rocky Mountains, but instead in the Appalachian Mountains. A foundation stallions, brought from the western United States to eastern Kentucky around 1890, began the Rocky Mountain type in the late 19th century. In the mid-20th century, a stallion named Old Tobe, owned by a prominent breeder, was used to develop the modern type; today most Rocky Mountain Horses trace back to this stallion. In 1986, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association was formed and by 2005 has registered over 12,000 horses. The breed is known for its preferred "chocolate" coat color and flaxen mane and tail, the result of the relatively rare silver dapple gene acting on a black coat, seen in much of the population. It also exhibits a four-beat ambling gait known as the "single-foot". Originally developed as a multi-purpose riding, driving and light draft horse, today it is used mainly for trail riding and working cattle. 

Breed Characteristics

Rocky Mountain Horses stand between 14.2 and 16 hands (58 and 64 inches, 147 and 163 cm) high. Any solid colour is accepted by the registry, but a dark brown color called "chocolate" with a pale, "flaxen" mane and tail is preferred. This coloration is the result of the relatively rare silver dapple gene acting on a black base coat. Although uncommon, this gene has been found in over a dozen breeds, including the Rocky Mountain Horse. Minimal white markings are accepted by the registry, although leg markings may not extend above the knee. The physical characteristics are somewhat variable, due to the disparate breeds that created the Rocky Mountain Horse. The Rocky Mountain Horse is known by enthusiasts for its hardiness and ability to withstand winters in the mountains. It is also praised for its good nature and affinity for humans. Rocky Mountain Horses have the highest risk of any breed for the genetic ocular syndrome multiple congenital ocular anomalies (MCOA), originally called equine anterior segment dysgenesis  (ASD). MCOA is characterized by the abnormal development of some ocular tissues, which causes compromised vision, although generally of a mild form; the disease is non-progressive. Genetic studies have shown that the disorder may be tied to the silver dapple gene, as most horses diagnosed with MCOA carry the gene.

The breed exhibits a natural ambling gait, called the single-foot, which replaces the trot seen in a majority of horse breeds. Both gaits are an intermediate speed between a walk and a canter or gallop; ambling gaits are four-beat gaits, whereas the trot is a two-beat gait. The extra footfalls provide additional smoothness to a rider because the horse always has at least one foot on the ground. This minimizes movement of the horse's topline and removes the bounce of a two-beat gait, caused by a moment of suspension followed by the jolt of two feet hitting the ground as the horse shifts from one pair of legs to the other. The value of an intermediate speed is that the horse conserves energy. More than thirty horse breeds are "gaited," able to perform a four-beat ambling gait, and some can also trot. Thus, a Rocky Mountain Horse, with rider, can use the single-foot to cover rough ground at around 7 miles per hour (11 km/h) and short stretches of smooth ground at up to 16 miles per hour (26 km/h).  The faster speed is known as the rack. In comparison, the average medium trot speed is 6 to 8 miles per hour (9.7 to 12.9 km/h).


Eastern Kentucky is known for its gaited breeds, created through a mixture of Spanish Horses from the southern United States and English horses from the North. American Saddlebreds, Tennessee Walking Horses and Missouri Fox Trotters also originated in the same general geographic area, from the same mixing of Spanish and English blood. Rocky Mountain Horses have a similar history to the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, and together are sometimes called "Mountain Pleasure Horses". The Rocky Mountain Horse originated in eastern Kentucky from a foundation stallion brought to the Appalachian Mountains from the Rocky Mountains around 1890. Brought to the area as a colt, oral histories state that the "Rocky Mountain Horse", as he was known, possessed the preferred chocolate color and flaxen mane and tail found in the breed today, as well as the single-foot gait. He was used to breed local saddle mares, and due to the small area in which he was bred, a local strain of horse originated.

This foundation stallion produced a descendent, named Old Tobe, who became the more modern father of the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. Old Tobe was owned by a resident of Spout Springs, Kentucky named Sam Tuttle. For most of the 20th century, Tuttle was a prominent breeder of Rocky Mountain Horses, and helped to keep the strain alive during the Great Depression and World War ll. After World War II, despite declining horse populations in the US, Tuttle kept his herd, and continued to use Old Tobe as a breeding stallion. Tuttle held the Natural Bridge State Park concession for horseback riding, and used Old Tobe for trail rides in the park and for siring additional trail horses, the latter until the stallion was 34 years old. Old Tobe died at the age of 37. The presence of the single-foot gait makes it possible that the breed is in part descended from the Narragansett Pacer , a breed known for passing its gaited ability on to other American breeds.

In 1986, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association was created to increase population numbers and promote the breed; there were only 26 horses in the first batch of registrations. Since then, the association has, over the life of the registry, registered over 25000 horses as of 2015, and the breed has spread to 47 states and 11 countries. In order to be accepted by the registry, a foal's parentage must be verified via DNA testing. Horses must also, after reaching 23 months of age, be inspected to ensure that they meet the physical characteristic and gait requirements of the registry. The Rocky Mountain Horse is listed at "Watch" status by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, meaning that the estimated global population of the breed is fewer than 15,000, with fewer than 800 registrations annually in the US.

The breed was originally developed for general use on the farms of the Appalachian foothills, where it was found pulling plows and buggies, working cattle and being ridden by both adults and children. Today, it is still used for working cattle, as well as endurance riding and pleasure riding. The breed's gait and disposition make it sought out by elderly and disabled riders. Each September, the Kentucky Horse Park hosts the International Rocky Mountain Horse Show.

Source - Wikipedia


Costarricence De Paso - Origin Costa Rica

Breed Information

The Costa Rican Saddle Horse is a horse breed developed in Costa Rica. Since 1850 breeders of the Costa Rican horse have paid more attention to the selection of breeding stock. Because the horse population was small and inbreeding a concern, a few stallions were imported from Spain and Peru. The breed was founded by "Janitzio", foaled in 1955, a loudly marked sabino stallion. In 1972 a breed club (ASCACOPA) was established, and in 1974 the breed registry was initiated.


The minimum height for males is 14.2½ hands (148 centimetres (58 in)) and 14.1½ hands (146 centimetres (57 in)) for females. The head profile is straight or slightly convex. The neck is arched, ample at the base and tapered toward the head. The chest is deep and well muscled, the barrel well developed. The back is short, with the underline being longer. The croup is long, well muscled and slightly rounded. The hair on the mane and tail is fine, and the skin should be fine with short hair. The gait and movements are performed with action and energy, the knees and hocks showing high flexing during the rhythmic and harmonious trot.

Source - Wikipedia


American Saddlebred - Origin Kentucky, USA

Breed Information

The American Saddlebred is a horse breed from the United States. This breed was referred to as the "Horse America Made". Descended from riding-type horses bred at the time of the American Revolution, the American Saddlebred includes the Narragansett Pacer, Canadian Pacer, Morgan and Thoroughbred among its ancestors. Developed into its modern type in Kentucky, it was once known as the "Kentucky Saddler", and used extensively as an officer's mount in the American Civil War. In 1891, a breed Registry was formed in the United States. Throughout the 20th century, the breed's popularity continued to grow in the United States, and exports began to South Africa and Great Britain. Since the formation of the US registry, almost 250,000 American Saddlebreds have been registered, and can now be found in countries around the world, with separate breed registries established in Great Britain, Australia, continental Europe, and southern Africa.

Averaging 15 to 16 hands (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm) in height, Saddlebreds are known for their sense of presence and style, as well as for their spirited, yet gentle, temperament. They may be of any colour, including pinto patterns, which have been acknowledged in the breed since the late 1800s. They are considered a gaited breed, as some Saddlebreds are bred and trained to perform four-beat ambling gaits, one being a "slow gait" that historically was one of three possible ambling patterns, and the much faster rack. The breed does have a hereditary predisposition to lordosis, a curvature of the spine, as well as occupational predispositions to upper respiratory and lameness issues.

Since the mid-1800s, the breed has played a prominent part in the US horse show industry, and is called the "peacock of the horse world". They have attracted the attention of numerous celebrities, who have become breeders and exhibitors, and purebred and partbred American Saddlebreds have appeared in several films, especially during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Saddlebreds are mainly known for their performance in the show ring, but can also be seen in competition in several other English riding disciplines and combined driving, as well as being used as a pleasure riding horse. American Saddlebreds often compete in five primary divisions: five-gaited, Three-Gaited, Fine Harness, Park and Pleasure. In these divisions they are judged on performance, manners, presence, quality and conformation.


American Saddlebreds stand 15 to 17 hands (60 to 68 inches, 152 to 173 cm) high, averaging 15 to 16 hands (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm), and weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds (450 and 540 kg). Members of the breed have well-shaped heads with a straight profile, long, slim, arched necks, well-defined withers, sloping shoulders, correct leg conformation, and strong level backs with well-sprung ribs. The croup is level with a high-carried tail. Enthusiasts consider them to be spirited, yet gentle, animals. Any color is acceptable, but most common are chestnut, bay, brown and black. Some are gray, roan, palomino and pinto. The first-known pinto Saddlebred was a stallion foaled in 1882. In 1884 and 1891, two additional pintos, both mares, were foaled. These three horses were recorded as "spotted", but many other pinto Saddlebreds with minimal markings were recorded only by their base color, without making note of their markings. This practice continued into the 1930s, at which time breeders came to be more accepting of "colored" horses and began recording markings and registering horses as pinto. The Saddlebred has been called the "world's most beautiful horse" by admirers, and is known as the "peacock of the horse world". The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) describes the Saddlebred as follows: "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."

Saddlebreds are popularly known as show horses, with horses being shown saddle seat in both three-gaited and five-gaited classes. The former are the three common gaits seen in most breeds, the walk, trot and canter. The latter includes the three regular gaits, plus two four-beat ambling gaits known as the slow gait and the rack. The slow gait today is a four-beat gait in which the lateral pairs of legs leave the ground together, but strike the ground at different times, the hind foot connecting slightly before the forefoot. In the show ring, the gait should be performed with restraint and precision. The rack is also a four-beat gait, but with equal intervals between each footfall, making it a smooth gait to ride. In the show ring, the gait is performed with speed and action, appearing unrestrained. Historically, the slow gait could be either a running walk, the stepping pace, or the fox trot, however, the modern five-gaited Saddlebred usually performs the stepping pace.

Lordosis, also known as swayback, low back or soft back, has been found to have a hereditary basis in Saddlebreds and a recessive mode of inheritance. The precise mutation has not yet been located, but researchers believe it to be somewhere on horse chromosome 20. Researching this condition may help more than just the Saddlebred breed as it may "serve as a model for investigating congenital skeletal deformities in horses and other species." Due to the head position common in the show ring, Saddlebreds can have impairments to the upper respiratory system, while the shoeing and movement required of the horses can cause leg and hoof injuries and increased lamness. A swayback is penalized as a fault at shows, in addition to other conformation flaws.


The Saddlebred has origins in the Galloway and Hobby horses of the British Isles, animals sometimes called palfreys, which had ambling gaits and were brought to the United States by early settlers. These animals were further refined in America to become a now-extinct breed called the Narragansett Pacer, a riding and driving breed known for its ambling and pacing gaits. When colonists imported Thoroughbreds to America, beginning in 1706, they were crossed with the Narragansett Pacer, which, combined with massive exports, ultimately led to the extinction of the Narragansett as a purebreed breed. To preserve important bloodlines, Canadian Pacers were introduced instead. By the time of the American Revolution, a distinct type of riding horse had developed with the size and quality of the Thoroughbred, but the ambling gaits and stamina of the Pacer breeds. This animal was called the American Horse. Its existence was first documented in a 1776 letter when an American diplomat wrote to the Continental Congress asking for one to be sent to France as a gift for Marie Antoinette.

19th Century

Other breeds which played a role in the development of the Saddlebred in the 19th century include the Morgan, Standardbred and Hackney. The Canadian Pacer had a particularly significant impact. The breed, originally of French origin, was also influential in the development of the Standardbred and Tennessee Walking Horse. The most influential Canadian Pacer on Saddlebred lines was Tom Hall, a blue roan stallion foaled in 1806. After being imported to the United States from Canada, he was registered as an American Saddlebred and became the foundtaion stallion of several Saddlebred lines.

The American Horse was further refined in Kentucky, where the addition of more Thoroughbred blood created a taller and better-looking horse that became known as the Kentucky Saddler. There were originally seventeen foundation stallions listed by the breed registry, but by 1908 the registry decided to list only one and the remainder were identified as "Noted Deceased Sires." Today, two foundation sires of the breed are recognized, both Thoroughbred crosses. The first was Denmark, son of an imported Thoroughbred, who for many years was the only recognized foundation stallion.His son, Gaine's Denmark, was in the pedigrees of over 60 percent of the horses registered in the first three volumes of the breed's studbook. A second foundation sire was recognized in 1991, Harrison Chief. This sire was a descendent of the Thoroughbred Messanger, who is also considered a foundation stallion for the Standardbred breed.

During the American Civil War, American Saddlebreds were commonly used by the military, and known for their bravery and endurance. Many officers used them as mounts, and included in their numbers are General Lee's Travelller, General GRant's Cincinnati, General Sharman's Lexington, and General Jackson's Little Sorrell. Other generals who used them during the conflict include John Hunt Morgan and Basil W. Duke during his time with Morgan's Raiders. Kentucky Saddlers were used during brutal marches with the latter group, and the historical record suggests that they held up better than horses of other breeds.

The American Saddlebred Horse Association was formed in 1891, then called the National Saddle Horse Breeders Association (NSHBA). Private individuals had produced studbooks for other breeds, such as the Morgan, as early as 1857, but the NSHBA was the first national association for an American-developed breed of horse. A member of Morgan's Raiders, General John BReckinridge Castleman, was instrumental in forming the NSHBA. In 1899, the organization name was changed to the American Saddle Horse Breeders Association, clarifying the breed's name as the "American Saddle Horse," not simply "Saddle Horse."

20th Century to Present

After World War l, the American Saddlebred began to be exported to South Africa, and it is now the most popular non-racing breed in that country. Saddlebred horse show standards continued to evolve through the 1920s, as the popularity of the breed grew. The Saddlebred industry slowed during World War ll, but began to grow again post-war, with Mexico, Missouri earning the title "Saddle Horse Capital of the World". Exports continued, and though attempts to begin a South African breed registry had started in 1935, it was not until 1949 that the Saddle Horse Breeders' Society of South Africa was formed. The 1950s saw continued growth of the Saddlebred breed, and The Lemon Drop Kid, a fine harness horse, became the first, and only, Saddlebred to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In the late 1950s, the Saddle Horse Capital became centered in Shelby County, Kentucky, largely due to the success of breeders Charles and Helen Crabtree, the latter a renowned equitation coach. Although individual Saddlebreds had been exported to Great Britain throughout the breed's history, the first breeding groups were transported there in 1966. For the next three decades, enthusiasts worked to establish a breeding and showing platform for the breed in the UK.

In 1980, the name of the American Saddle Horse Breeder's Association was changed to the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA), membership was opened to non-breeders, and the group began to focus on breed promotion. In 1985, the ASHA became the first breed registry to have their headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. A decade later, in 1995, the United Saddlebred Association – UK was formed to register Saddlebreds in Great Britain, and acts as the British affiliate of the ASHA. Since the founding of the American registry, almost 250,000 horses have been accepted, with almost 3,000 new foals registered annually. It is the oldest still-functioning breed registry in the US. Most common in the eastern US, the breed is also found throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and in South Africa.

Located at the Kentucky Horse Park is the American Saddlebred Museum, which curates a large collection of Saddlebred-related items and artwork, as well as a 2,500-volume library of breed-related works. There are many magazines which focus on the American Saddlebred: "Show Horse Magazine", "Bluegrass Horseman", "The National Horseman", "Saddle and Bridle", and "Show Horse International".

Show Ring History

As a show horse, Saddlebreds were exhibited in Kentucky as early as 1816, and were a prominent part of the first national horse show in the United States, held at the St. Louis Fair in 1856. The Kentucky State Fair began running a World Championship show in 1917, offering a $10,000 prize for the champion five-gaited horse. Also in 1917, the American Horse Shows Association, now the United States Equestrian Federation, formed and began to standardize show formats and rules. In 1957, the American Saddlebred Pleasure Horse Association was formed to regulate English pleasure classes. Today, the most prestigious award in the breed industry is the American Saddlebred "Triple Crown": winning the five-gaited championships at the Lexington Junior League Horse Show, the Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Show and American Royal horse show; a feat that has only been accomplished by six horses.

The breed's show history also paralleled major historical developments. Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who owned and exhibited Saddlebreds into the 1940s, organized the first "All-Negro" horse show in Utica, Michigan, allowing greater opportunities for African-American people to exhibit horses at a time when there was significant racial segregation in the United States. Gas shortages in the 1970s and 1980s put pressure on the recreational dollar, and saw the growth of single breed shows at the expense of the multi-breed traditional horse show. At the beginning of the 21st century, the number of women showing Saddlebreds increased, with female competitors winning several world championships.


Today, the Saddlebred is exhibited in the United States in multiple divisions, including assorted in hand classes; ridden in saddle seat classes for three- and five-gaited horses in both Park and pleasure classes, hunter country pleasure, and western pleasure; plus pleasure driving, fine harness, roaster harness classes. In five-gaited competition, they are shown with a full tail, often augmented with an artificial switch, and a full mane. Three-gaited horses are shown with a shaved off "roached" mane and with the hair at the top of their tails, an area called the dock, trimmed short. While use of a set tail in certain types of competition was common, today, tailsets are generally not allowed on the show grounds, except for horses in the Park Pleasure division, and horses with unset tails are not penalized in any division. Gingering is prohibited.

Outside of breed-specific shows, the Saddlebred is also promoted as suitable for competitive trail riding, endurance riding, dressage, combined driving, eventing, and show jumping. Some Saddlebreds are also suitable for fox hunting, cutting and roping. Because they are so closely affiliated with their traditional show ring competition, they are sometimes mistaken for warmbloods or Thoroughbred crosses when participating in other equine events. They are also suitable family horses used for trail and pleasure riding and ranch work.

Film and Celebrity Affiliation

Many film and television horses of the Golden Age of Hollywood were also Saddlebreds, including the horses used in lead roles in My Friend Flicka, National Velvet, Fury and one version of Black Beauty. A half-Saddlebred played the lead role in the TV series Mr. Ed, and a Saddlebred was used in a prominent role in Giant. In the 1990s, William Shatner, an actor and Saddlebred breeder, rode one of his own horses, a mare named Great Belles of Fire, in his role as James T. Kirk in Star Trek Generations. Numerous other celebrities have been owners and exhibitors of the breed, including William Shatner, Clark Gable, Will Rogers, Joe Louis, and Carson Kressley.

Source - Wikipedia