Breed vs Registry
I have been told that (aside from Peruvians and Icelandics... maybe a few others) gaited horses are basically Walkers or Trotters. Everything like "mountain horses", "spotted saddle horses", "spotted mountain horses", are actually just registries, some of which denote color. A Walker of color could be registered as a "Tennessee Walker" or a "Spotted Saddle Horse", or a "Spotted Mountain Horse". A Trotter can also be a "Spotted Saddle Horse" or a "Spotted Mountain Horse" as well.
I have also been told that a Kentucky Mountain Horse and a Rocky Mountain Horse are the same except for coloring. I know that the Spotted Mountain Horse registry is a sub club of the Kentucky Mountain Horse Assoc. And, any gaited horse of color can be registered as a Spotted Saddle Horse.
It gets kinda confusing. My horse came from Walkers; his grand-sire was Triple Threat. Yet he is registered as a Spotted Mountain Horse (and of course, a Spotted Saddle Horse.)
Back to the question..... are gaited horses basically Walkers or Trotters? Any thoughts?
There are distinct breeds and sometimes there are multiple registries for the same breed - usually due to a difference in philosophy and how open they are to accepting new blood. There are also just registries that have certain requirements to join, but multiple breeds can be found within the registry.
For example - there are 3 registries for the "Mountain Horses". The Rocky Mountain, The Kentucky Mountain, and the Mountain Pleasure. The Mountain pleasure ONLY registers horses with registered parents so it is a closed registry and also has the fewest registered horses. The Rocky Mountain is mostly a closed registry, but does let a few new individuals in that meet certain requirements. I don't know the details, but my understanding is its mostly mares that show the proper gait are allowed to be bred to purebred studs to get offspring that can be registered. The Kentucky Mountain Saddle horse is a more open registry and will accept a wider range or horses that show the appropriate gait and conformation, etc. Some people think a closed registry is best as it keeps a tight control over blood lines and keeps them "pure" while others think a more open registry is best to prevent too much inbreeding and keep the gene pool wider. So pretty much the same breed, but 3 different registries with 3 different philosophies.
Tennessee Walkers are a breed with a registry that also has a closed stud book. There are no horses being added so a walker must be bred to a walker to get a registered walker. Same with the Fox Trotter - they are a closed registry now so if you have a fox trotter it had to be fox trotter X fox trotter breeding.
Spotted Saddle - they are more of a gaited color registry. The horse must gait and exhibit the proper amount of white and it can be registered the last I heard. So they really are not a breed per se, but just a registry. Similar to the Palomino registry or the pinto registry.
You can't lump them all together. Just because a horse is a spotted saddle does not mean its also a TW. Its understanding the difference between "breeds" vs. "registries" and the difference between open vs. closed registries. There are just so many for the gaited horses it can get confusing.
Then there is the AQHA...
A "breed" is a collection of abilities or conformation or some combination that some group of humans decided was desireable for some purpose. But while the production of the project is often studied the root stock that made is not.
Many North American breeds are, in fact, born of the same root stock. The various breeds have just emphasized one or more details to set themselves apart for their own reasons.
Indeed, the Iberian breeds are exactly the same. The Paso Fino and Peruvian and Mangalarga Marchador share huge genetic similaries with Lusitanos and Anadlusians; perhaps even Lippizaners. But each breed has choosen to emphasize a different set of characteristics.
It's not actually correct to say that mountain horses are descended from Walkers. It would be correct to note overlaps in root stock.
I believe the books for the RMHA are closed at this time, and have been for awhile. As for color, Rockies come in a number of different colors, not just the popular chocolate with flaxen mane/tale. Many people register in both the Rocky and the Kentucky Mountain registries. As for all gaited horses being either Walkers or Trotters....I thought the whole point was to AVOID trotting?
I was assuming when she said trotters she meant fox trotters - which is a 4-beat gait.
And you are right - I looked it up and the Rocky Mountains are now a closed-book registry.
Duh, didn't think Foxtrotter.....and I own one!
Some trots can actually be as comfortable as some "smooth gaits." It all depends on the horse's conformation and way of going.
If a breed has a strong breed standard that is rigorously enforced then when a buyer says "I want a horse with the following characteristics..." they can look at said breed with some assurance that those characteristics will be there. If there is no breed standard or if it is not enforced then it's literally "buyer beware." Even within a strong standard breed there can be deviations from standards, but they will be far fewer and far less severe than in weak standard breeds.
Clearly when a buyer looks at a horse they must concentrate on the horse in front of them. But when they do so they not only look at that horse but also every other horse in the pedigree.
Thanks for all the replies; and thanks "Cat". The "spotted" registries do appear to be for color. My horse comes from 2 Tennessee Walkers, but is not in that registry! So confusing. Also my horse will do a "standard trot", but I let him do it in the arena on occasion. It causes him to drop his head and round his back. He used to to a 4-beat trot on occasion as well, but now seems to be most comfortable in his running walk.
Additional note: I have have met many breeders who have eliminated the term "Tennessee" from the breed name, only calling them "Walkers". They are trying to separate themselves from the cruelty of the old-style Tennessee Walker shows like Celebration, which stress the big-lick way for training. I really can't blame them. Someday I pray those shows will be completely outlawed.
These registries have little or nothing to do with the history of the blood in Mountain horses.
My 15yo mare is registered as a KMHSA. 4 generations back on her dam's side are 2 "UNKNOWN." She is 15.2hh and IMO, fits the breed standard. Her gaits are VERY comfortable and I can see why the man I bought her from bred her 4x.
My 7yo gelding is a 16.3hh throwback to a TWH, and not a standard height at all. OP, don't you think he looks like a TWH? He rides like one, too.
I was told that the Mountain Horse gaits and blood almost died out. There were common in the colonies, and during the 1800's many Euorpean gaited breeds died out bc the ecliptic spring made driving and riding in them more comfortable and very popular.
If nobody keeps track you don't know about bloodlines.
I am happy to "Old Tobe" was bred and that I can buy a comfortable gaited riding horse. I am much less enamored of the purist Mountain Horse owners just as fixated on bloodlines as any other breed, As IF a bloodline ONLY makes a great horse.
I should have bred my mare one more time right after I bought her in 2008.
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