The lineage of American Saddlebacks dates back to the 1600's when Galloway and Hobby horses from the British Isles were imported to North America. A combination of selective breeding and new environmental factors saw this horse typ evolve into the Narragansett Pacer along the eastern seabord.
This new, more developed breed was cross-bred with Thoroughbreds in the 18th century and soon became commonly known the ‘American Horse'. The horse retained the easy riding gaits from the Narragansetts, but now possessed the physical prowess of the Thoroughbred. In the 1830's, horsemen in Kentucky continued to add Morgan and Thoroughbred blood, producing the ‘American Saddlebred.' The utility associated with the horse rendered it suitable for riding, pulling carriages and other laborious activities. The breed became especially useful during the American Civil War in the 1860's.
Deemed to be a multi-purpose breed of utility and beauty, American Saddlebreds became fitting show horses. At the end of the American Civil War, horse shows became an increasingly popular entertainment medium, effectively augmenting the commercial value of the breed.
The average height of American Saddlebreeds is 15-16 hands, while the most common colours are chestnut, bay, brown and black, and sometimes grey, roan, palomino and pinto. Other physical attributes include a long neck, well-defined withers, deep and sloping shoulders, wide set eyes and a smooth jaw line.
Considered to be high-stepping and elegant, with notable stamina and endurance, today the breed is mostly associated with the horse show world. Disciplines include saddle seat style riding, different forms of driving, some fine harness competition, sometimes dressage, hunter/jumper and western riding. They have the capacity to perform five gaits: the walk, trot, canter, slow gait and rack and may be used for trail riding. In some countries, American Saddlebreds are used in the Police Force.
In Australia, the first American Saddlebreds were imported in the 1970's and have continued to be developed since. The American Saddlebred Horse Association of Australia was Incorporated in 1977 and still remains a legal registry and is the only internationally recognized registry for American Saddlebred horses in Australia. Both bloodtyping and DNA-typing ensures that it is up to date, and complies with ASHA USA and Australian industry standards.