Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, February 9, 2023


Per Boud's request some information on American Saddlebreds

This is a video of a five-gaited saddlebred. The five-gaited rack, which is that rather strange gait with the front moving very fast and the rear is not. There is no 'bounce' for the rider, sort of like a Tennessee Walker. They were bred and developed in the Southern United States and used for overseeing plantations. They are a comfortable ride. Then they became show horses and that walking trot was bred to be more exaggerated. Saddlebreds, like many breeds (not Arabians) are allowed to wear tail extensions and they do something called a tail set; a couple of cuts along the sides of the dock and then a 'set' put in to stretch and then heal upright. They wear weighted shoes and are trained with chains or weights above their front hooves to encourage more lift.

Mr. Solo at home in his natural state.

They are upright horses with their neck set high on the shoulder. This allows for more extension and lift. They are overall goodnatured horses. Generally tall, Solo was 16.1 hands.

This is an Arabian mare, Secret, I purchased and was informed she may be in foal to the seller's pinto saddlebred. She was. This is the Arabian/Saddlebred filly, Ivy. Saddlebreds are a common cross with Arabians. The Arabian Horse Registry has a half- Arab registration and so they are pedigreed and can be very valuable.

The horse in the middle is my first saddlebred, Senior Specialist, Spenser. He was 17 hands and was three when I bought him. We found out he was five-gaited later when the trainer took him out to a harvested corn field and he racked. Colleen said she thought he might be and that is a way to find out. I did not show Spenser, he was a very stable riding horse who could park really low. Parking is having the horse stretch out both front and hind to lower itself. I could get on the Big Dude from the ground if I had to because he was a world class parker. It also allowed him to refuse to move if that's what he wanted because you cannot push a parked horse off balance. Spenser was trained to drive (pull a cart), he really liked that, much more than having someone on his back. We were on a trail ride many years ago in these photos. The horse on the left is Ben, a Lipizzan/Arabian cross, on the right is Dani, a Morocco Spotted Horse/Arabian cross.

Spenser died in 2011. He had diabetes. You cannot manage it with insulin, it's all about care. He foundered badly, which is how I found out. His recovery was long and painful. He had to have grass hay that had been soaked for at least an hour to remove the starch. He needed boots with founder pads on his front hooves. He could not be out on grass, there is a lot of sugar in grass, especially in the spring. He did well for about a year and then he foundered again. I had promised him during the first recovery that I would not put him through that again. I put him down. His barn name was Spenser, but he was The Dude.

Spenser and Colleen in the early nineties.

This is Joan Crawford, an ASB owned by a member of my father's family.

This is a brief overview of the ASB horse. I hope it gave some insight into a regal and often misused animal. A little tidbit of info. TV's Mr. Ed was a half saddlebred.


Boud said...

I have to Google a bunch of terms now, but thank you, I know more than I did. Still don't know why they're called saddlebred, so I'll look it up! Along with foundered, five gaited, and others. I may need a whole horse manual of terms.

Sandra said...

Like your tools for making art that I have no clue about, but they are just natural for you to talk about, this stuff is just the same. It's another language. Don't get me started on breeding lingo!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Mr Ed there is a horse that I used to enjoy on TV:)

Sandra said...

Far Side, a horse is a horse of course of course…. : )

marlane said...

The last photo looks just like my husband Doug on our Morgan horse LC The Dark Knight I just took a photo of him in a similar pose and he is sitting the same way even though I told him he is "chair seating" Founder is such an awful thing, both my Arabians had it and fortunately their coffin bones did not rotate too much and they recovered, although I lost one of them to colic at age 20, the other lived til he was 32. It is interesting that the Saddlebred, Tennessee Walker the Morgan and the Arabian all can be ridden saddle seat and have the action to do the high step needed. Am I missing other breeds that can do this. But the rack goes one step further. Thanks for the interesting pictures and information, I did not know that the original purpose for parking out was to make the horse lower to mount.

Lori Skoog said...

Thank. you for sharing more scoop and photos of your horses. I have to say that I am totally against docking, weighted shoes and chains. Hasn't a lot of that changed now? Why was this done to horses? Not for the horse. I think you are right....they were often misused. Very sad.

Sandra said...

marlane, I don't know if that was the original reason for parking out but it's how I used it! The ability to high step comes from neck set and a 'rounded' shoulder. Warmbloods can high step and extend, the high level ones. If you've seen temps, that's a lot of control.

Sandra said...

Lori, I don't know what they are doing anymore, but I'd beat the Walkers are still sored. If the style of riding hasn't changed the stock horses are probably still tied tight with their necks upward and docking tails. I can't imagine ASB not having weighted shoes.

Val Ewing said...

One of my first 4H horses I had was an aged Saddlebred. He was a retired show horse and retired lesson horse. I gave him a wonderful home and he gave my Horseless horse kids a safe introduction to horses. The kids loved him and my sons would often take their cousins riding double on Rocky.
One time I rode him through the corn stubble and as you said, he did something I never felt before.
I had the vet come out and do a work up on him for the 4H'rs to see. The vet gave us 22 pages of his health history. He didn't fair well at the show barn but blossomed with us. We all loved him dearly even with his crooked tail.

He lived to 25 yrs old. Thanks for bringing that memory back!

Sandra said...

Val, I have found them willing horses, with just a touch of 'tude! They are aristocratic beasties, sadly they are mostly used as show horses so not many people have the opportunity to know them. You and your kids were very fortunate in having Rocky.

It's odd with such a 'fancy' horse that you take them to a corn field to see what they have!

Bohemian said...

What handsome Horses, they seem to know they look that good too. *Smiles* I used to Love Mister Ed, afraid of Horses tho', I'd need a very old Nag to feel like I was safe up there. *Ha ha ha*

Sandra said...

Dawn, they have a strong sense of self! Horses aren’t intentionally difficult but people can make them that way. If you got the chance to interact with a horse I think you would lose your fear.