The Spotted Saddle Horse




The Spotted Saddle horse was developed in the United States by crossing Spanish-American type gaited pinto colored ponies with gaited horse breeds breeds, such as the Tennessee Walker and Missouri Fox Trotter. Just like the TWH and MFT breeds, the SSH has much ancestry as well from the Morgan, Standardbred, and Mustang breeds, as well as horses with unknown bloodlines. The result was a colorful, smooth-gaited horse, used in the show ring and for pleasure and trail riding and ranch work. Spotted Saddle horses are light riding horses, but also are wonderful as buggy and carriage horses. They average 14.3 to 16 hands high and weight 900 to 1,200 pounds. The head is refined, with a straight or slightly convex facial profile. The neck is muscular, with a slight arch, leading into long, sloping shoulders and a muscular chest. The back is short and the hindquarters muscular and broad. The croup is slightly sloping and rounded, with a high-set tail. The ideal Spotted Saddle horse resembles a "smaller, slightly stockier Tennessee Walking Horse".  Pinto coloration is required, with white spots on a background of any coat color. Overo and Tobiano are the two most common patterns, and the coverage of the white spots can range from minimal to almost completely covering the body.

  Two different registries have been created for the breed, one in 1979 and the other in 1985. The two have similar registration requirements, although one has an open stud book and the other is slightly more strict with regard to parentage requirements, having a semi-closed stud book. The Spotted Saddle horse is a light riding horse that is, always pinto in color. Solid-colored foals from registered parents may be registered for identification purposes, so their pinto-colored foals have documented parentage. They always should perform an ambling (broken) gait, rather than a diagonal trot, in addition to the gaits of walking and cantering like all breeds. Many of them do a fox trot or a running walk or racking gait, depending on their breeding and their training.

Interesting facts about the two different registries: In 1979, the National Spotted Saddle Horse Association (NSSHA) was organized in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This association focuses on promoting naturally-gaited saddle horses with pinto coloration. The NSSHA is adamant about disallowing cruel and inhumane training and showing practices, including soring, sometimes seen in other elements of the Spotted Saddle horse industry and TWH Show ring, and prohibited by the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA). The NSSHA also bans the use of action devices (such as chains or other weights around the pasterns and performance packages (stacks of pads attached to the shoe, sometimes weighted or used to conceal abusive shoeing practices) in their shows, which goes beyond the protection afforded by the HPA. Then, In 1985, the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (SSHBEA) was formed, headquartered in Shelbyville, Tennessee.  The SSHBEA is recognized as a "Horse Industry Organization" (HIO) under the HPA, and occasionally sees violations of the HPA at their shows. Violations of the HPA are addressed in the SSHBEA rulebook, and violations can result in disqualifications from individual shows or extended suspensions from Spotted Saddle horse showing. To be registered with the NSSHA, Spotted Saddle horses must display an ambling (broken) gait (they cannot square or hard trot) and must have pinto coloration. As long as they meet these two requirements, they can have any breeds in their pedigree. Even if already registered as Racking horses, TWH, MFT, or any other breeds, or from undocumented parentage, registration with the NSSHA is allowed. If a foal who has one or both parents registered with the NSSHA displays solid coat color (without pinto markings), it can be listed as having "identification" registration, and any spotted foals it has are considered to have NSSHA-documented parentage. Solid-colored, gaited mares and stallions can be registered as breeding stock, but are not considered to have full registration with the organization. Requirements for the SSHBEA are similar with regard to color and gait, including identification-only registration for solid colored foals of registered parents. However, one difference is that it is a semi-closed stud book, as a foal must have one or both parents listed with the SSHBEA to be registered by the SSHBEA.

Below is an example of a well bred, well trained, correctly gaiting TWH & SSH, named Joy, found at doing a superb foundation style flat foot walk, running walk, comfortable canter, and racking gaits.


Here are some SSH Photos:



This last horse is a mare who is triple registered in 3 different breeds...Spotted Saddle Horse, Missouri Fox Trotter & Spotted Mountain Horse.


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