Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse

Jessica McDaniel
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History of Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse

The history of the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse (KMSH) can be traced back numerous decades. They were first bred out of necessity in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky. Both lower and high elevation mountain farmers needed a hearty, strong, agile horse with dense muscles and heavy bone to work their hardscrabble land.

To accomplish this, many of the local farmers in the Appalachian Mountains bred their standard Quarter Horse mares with the larger English and Irish Sport Horses. In fact, most mountain riders today talk about using Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, or Standardbred stallions.

Willing to breed for the specific characteristics of the stock, the Mountain farmers would only allow their horses to breed with mares from the same mountain region. This helped to preserve the hardiness and agility these horses needed. They needed a horse that could endure rocky outcrops and piney woods. They needed a horse that could work in heat and cold. They needed a hardwood blaze of speed.

The tendency for the KMSH to be of lower head carriage than their more finess horse counterparts was, and still is, invaluable to mountain living. It’s more effective to have a low ridden saddle horse in dense forested areas and for the occasional river crossing.

The need for adaptability and dynamic movement is required in a horse that would perform alongside a grinding plow or to herd cattle from the front of a moving herd.

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, Characteristics


Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a breed of horse that originates from the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky in the United States. It has an excellent temperament, excellent agility and is easy to break. It's a sturdy horse that has the ability to carry a lot of weight. It has a very unique and elegant gait that makes it an ideal ride for trail lovers or for beginners.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse breed typically stands above 13 or 14hh. It's hardy and can tolerate both hot and cold weather conditions. They're very strong physically and can tolerate loads of weight. They are used to carry riders over long distances and to carry a lot of weight at a time.

The breed is also known for its high endurance and physical strength while working. The horses are known for their strength and stamina. It's especially well adapted to carry large loads over short distances.

They are able to tolerate the climate changes and handle the rugged terrain. The breed includes mainly Tennessee walking horses and other gaited horse breeds that were brought during settlers' journeys to the Appalachian region.

Kentucky mountain saddles are mainly used today as a pleasure horse. They're known for their freedom, agility, and speed among other things. There are some who use the horses for racing and trail riding as well.


Color is an essential component of value in regard to saddle horses and for show purposes, is one of the most important features. The ideal shade for a saddle horse is a roan; a mixture of gray and red hairs over a black base coat. Bay and brown are considered undesirable in the show ring. The color pattern should be less than 50% white with the major color either chestnut or sorrel. A chestnut must be bright in color with consistent red and the sorrel must have minimal gray hairs in the coat. Black should be an even black with no graying or flecking. Bay and brown are acceptable colors among trail horses and working horses. Gray and dun are also acceptable colors for saddle horses, but considered a less desirable color for showing.

One of the most common colorings found in different breeds of horses are what are known as “hot spots,” roaning, freckling, white spots, various white markings and white hairs in the coat. These markings are typically found on the chest, shoulders, flanks, hips, belly, legs and tail. However, these markings are not common among horses within the American Quarter Horses, as it is a disqualifying fault to have any of these markings. Some of the more common markings that disqualify a horse in AQHA shows are: black, tobiano, leopard and sabino.


And Characteristics:

Height: 15.1 ~ 16.1 Hands

Weight: 1,000 ~ 1,200 pounds

Color: Any breed combination

Kentucky Mountain Sddle Horses have a variety of colors and body types, and the breed standard allows for this. The most influential ancestors to the KMHA breed are draft bloodlines, so, such as Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron, or Shire are the most common. Endurance is favored in the KMHA horses, so, draft horse bloodlines greatly contribute to the stamina and strength of the breed.

Though there is no specific color influence allowed, the most commonly seen colors are bay, black, and chestnut in any combination. Roan is sometimes seen, as is spotted, pinto, gray, and baldface.


Kentucky Mountain Saddle horses are friendly, dependable, gentle on trails and streets, and athletic. They are calm, quick learners, and are great at roping. They work hard and thrive in a variety of environments and have been used by many professionals for work in rescue, trail riding, and other competitions.

If you are interested in a riding horse, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle horse is an excellent choice.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a breed whose development was made possible by the ruggedness of its region. These horses have developed a toughness that helps them overcome the challenges of their native Kentucky.

Kentucky Statues and their renowned Mountain Saddle Horse breed have been the symbol of the Blue Grass State for many years. There are several well-known horse breeds that are originally from Kentucky, such as the Thoroughbred, Morgan, and Standardbred.

Kentucky Mountain Horse V. Rocky Mountain Horse

The Kentucky Mountain Horse is a small-sized, smooth-gaited horse breed with a distinct natural ambling gait known as the "running walk" or "fox trot". They stand between 13.2 and 15.2 hands high. The movement is both smooth and comfortable and is believed to have come about due to the genetics of the Arabian Horse, the Barb, and draft horses.

The Kentucky Mountain Horse is a small horse and many people compare it to the Quarter Horse. The main difference between the Kentucky Mountain Horse and the Quarter Horse is leg structure. The Kentucky Mountain Horse has longer legs and greater stride. This is important since the "running walk" is generated by the horse moving its legs forward, rather than the lift from the hindquarters that is needed in the walking gaits of a typical Quarter Horse.

Although many people choose to ride the breed on the bridle, the Kentucky Mountain Horse was first and foremost bred for work. They are currently used as riding horses or driving horses and are sometimes used for cutting and reining. However, the breed as a whole, is not as refined as other gaited horse breeds, such as the Tennessee Walking Horse. They also do not have any distinctive markings, nor do they have any particular developing gaits.


The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a rare breed of horse found in the United States. The breed is actually a mutation of a sport horse breed called the American Saddlebred. Some say the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is the largest species of saddle horse, and their horses are known for their massive body and height. The horse breed got its namesake from the mountainous terrain of the Kentucky region in which they were raised.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is known for having a powerful body that is muscular and round in shape. Their body is usually a dark copper color, and they have a darker mane and tail. The breed is known far and wide for its tremendous ability to carry weight and size. Some of the heaviest horses are of the breed, being known to carry over 1,100 pounds in weight.

In addition to their powerful body and height, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse has long, slender and well-proportioned legs. Their chest is long and roomy. Their heads are usually small and curved, with an arched neck. Their necks are proportionally long and graceful. Although the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a stocky horse, this does not often cause issues with it intaking nutrition. Ponies of the breed are taller and lighter overall in weight.