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The Rocky Mountain Horse breed is popular for its beautiful chocolate-colored coat and flaxen mane and tail, but there’s more to this breed than their looks. These gentle animals are excellent trail horses and rides for the elderly and the disabled.
The Rocky Mountain Horse Breed
Among horse breeds, the Rocky Mountain Horse breed might be one of the newest. It began with a colt known only as of the “Rocky Mountain horse”, brought from that region to the Appalachian mountains around 1890. This unknown horse had the chocolate color that is typical of the breed, a smooth, four-beat gait, and a gentle disposition.
It isn’t surprising that it would become a popular sire, bred to the local Appalachian saddle mares. This unknown horse could’ve been a Narragansett Pacer, a now-extinct breed. They, too, were popular for their ambling gait and gentle nature, as well as the ability to pass these characteristics.
In the following video, you can see the Rocky Mountain Horse’s gait in action. It’s similar to the Icelandic horse’s tölt.
One of these descendants was Old Tobe. Bred by Sam Tuttle, the horse had a gentle disposition and became a great trail riding horse as well as a breeding stallion. Old Tobe was so gentle, he could be tied near mares without a problem.
His nature, as well as his ambling gait, made him an excellent horse for beginners. Sam Tuttle, who owned Old Tobe, bred him to his own mares and to many others. People sought after his offspring through eastern Kentucky, and Old Tobe kept his stud services until he was 34.
He died at 37. Old Tobe’s longevity, disposition, and ambling gait passed through his descendants and to the Rocky Mountain Horses of today.
The Great Depression and World War II made many people give up their horses, but Sam Tuttle kept his herd in spite of everything. It is because of him that the Rocky Mountain Horse breed still exists. The official breed registry began in 1986.
Today, the breed is still relatively small, but interest in it brought it to several other countries, including in Europe. Nonetheless, it is still on the ‘Watch’ list of the American Livestock Conservancy due to its relatively low numbers.
Height 14.2 – 16 hh
Colour: Any solid color. The Rocky Mountain horse is popular for its beautiful silver dapple color, which is a relatively rare color for horses but common in the Rocky Mountain. The breed standard does not allow excessive white. Markings should not go above the hock and should be minimal in the face.
Conformation: Short-backed and deep-chested. They have properly angled rear feet, typical of gaited horses. The profile should be straight and clean. The horse should have a medium height. This breed is popular for its ambling four-beat gait, which makes it a comfortable saddle horse.
This, the gentle disposition, and the color are markers of the breed. Horses need to pass a laboratory test confirming parentage to enter the breed registry.
Uses: all uses, but especially under saddle, such as in endurance and pleasure riding. These horses are very good for disabled people and the elderly. This is because of their gait and disposition. In the past, they were all-purpose horses.
The harsh conditions often forced a single horse to do farm work, perform under saddle, and also pull buggies and chariots. Because of their mountainous origins, they are sure-footed and thus, excellent trail horses as well.