The first breed developed in America, the Narragansett pacer, was ridden by George Washington and even possibly Paul Revere on his famous ride warning of the red coats. In the early 1700's the Narragansetts were crossed with Thoroughbreds and by the Revolution this new breed became known as the horse America made or the American horse.
Considered the mount of choice for many generals, including Robert E Lee and Ulysses Grant, during the Civil War. These sturdy horses kept the beauty and size of the Thoroughbred while preserving the ability to learn the gaits from their pacing and ambling ancestors. Their intelligence, wiliness, and strength made them sturdy partners in battle and admired by all who saw them. Many people who gazed at General Lee’s American Saddlebred, Traveller, wrote poems and stories about him. Even Lee himself wrote about his favorite horse and how amazing he was in some of his letters. Traveller was eventually buried near General Lee at Lee Chapel in Virginia.
At the turn of the 20th century, thanks to new forms of transportation and farming, horses needed a new purpose. So people dusted off their harnesses and saddles and took to the ring. In 1912 horses became part of the Olympics, a few years later the Association of American Horse Shows was formed, and the industry has been booming ever since. The breed now known as the American Saddlebred, with their elegant, powerful, high-stepping action and happy, alert personalities made them the ultimate show horse.
One of the few breeds with the versatility to compete in every discipline, the American Saddlebred excels in Three-Day Eventing, Hunter on the Flat, Combined Driving and of course Saddleseat. Their athleticism and willingness to learn shows up in the wide range of disciplines you find them in. They are not hard to spot, ears forward, neck arched, the picture of symmetry in motion. It’s no wonder they are called “The Peacock of the Show Ring”! It’s as if they were born for stardom and they know it.
These are just a few reasons why everyone from Generals to young girls have chosen the American Saddlebred over the years. The horse America made is a good title for this breed that represents the American spirit and what each of us hope we are as Americans.
The American Saddlebred, America's Horse