History and Origin of the Breed
Tradition has it that around the turn of the century a young horse
appeared in eastern Kentucky that gave rise to a line of horses that
have been prized and treasured in this part of the country ever since.
The basic characteristics are a medium-sized horse of gentle
temperament with an easy ambling four-beat gait. This gait made it the
horse of choice on the farms and the rugged foothills of the
Appalachians. It was a horse for all seasons. It could pull the plows
in the small fields, work cattle, be ridden bareback by four children
to the fishing hole, or to town comfortably on Saturday. They even
performed well hitched to the buggy Sunday morning to go to church.
Fancy barns and stalls were not necessary. Because of its cold-blooded
nature, it tolerated the winters in Kentucky with a minimum of
shelter. Naturally, out crossing with local horses did occur but the
basic characteristics of a strong genetic line have continued.
In Spout Springs, Kentucky, on the farm of Sam Tuttle, these horses
a nurturing ground. Sam, who had the concession for horseback riding
at the Natural Bridge State Park, used these horses for many years to
haul green and inexperienced people over rough and rugged trails. Old
Tobe, his most treasured stallion, who fathered fine horses up until
the ripe old age of 37, was as "sure" footed and as gentle a horse as
could be found. He was the one that carried the young, the old, or the
unsure over the mountain trails of Kentucky without faltering, even
though a breeding stallion. Everyone who rode the stallion fell in
love with him. He had the perfect gait and temperament. Many of the
present Rocky Mountain Horses® carry his bloodline.
The breed is best known for gentleness. It is an easy keeper and a
wonderful riding horse with a strong heart and endurance. Today the
Rocky Mountain Horse® is being used as a pleasure horse,
for trail, and competitive or endurance riding. As show horses, the
breed is rapidly gaining in popularity because of its beauty and
unique way of moving in the ring. The calm temperament of his horse
makes it ideally suited for working around cattle and for 4-H
projects. These horses have a lot of natural endurance, they are
sure-footed on rough ground and, because of their gait, they require a
minimum of effort by both horse and rider so that together they can
cover a greater distance with less tiring.
The established characteristics for the Rocky Mountain Horse are:
1.The horse must be of medium height from 14.2 to 16 hands, a wide
chest sloping 45 degrees on the shoulder with bold eyes and well
2.The horse must have a natural ambling four-beat gait (single foot
with no evidence of pacing. When the horse moves you can count four
distinct hoof beats which produce a cadence of equal rhythm, just like
a walk: left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore. Each individual
horse has its own speed and natural way of going, traveling 7-20 miles
per hour. This is a naturally occurring gait present from birth that
does not require any training aids or action devices (i.e. chains,
soring or built up shoes.)
3.It must be of good temperament and easy to manage.
4.All Rocky Mountain Horses®
have a solid body color. Facial markings are acceptable so long as
they are not excessive. There may not be any white above the knee or
It is obvious that a haphazard and unorganized maintenance of this
breed would eventually result in its dissipation and loss. For this
reason, in the summer of 1986, those who were interested in the breed
got together to form the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. The purpose
of this association is to maintain the breed, to increase the number
of horses in the breed and expand the area, which has knowledge of
this fine horse. To that end, the association has established a
registry that has shown steady and well-regulated growth in the number
of horses registered. It is critical that standards be maintained and
a panel of examiners has been
up by the association to provide vigorous supervisors to the growth
and development of the breed. To achieve this, ALL horses must be
examined for breed characteristics and approved prior to breeding.
The Rocky Mountain Horse Association is
incorporated in the state of Kentucky as a non-profit corporation.
Association dues and fees are kept to a minimum consistent with fiscal
responsibility. It is the goal of the Rocky Mountain Horse Association
that the characteristics that are so desirable in this horse be
enhanced through selective breeding. The association is dedicated to
the promotion and development of the Rocky Mountain Horse®.
It is one of the finest natural occurring breeds; it may be trained to
compete in any horse-related activity. The International Rocky
Mountain Horse Show is held at the Kentucky Horse Park on the third
weekend in September, annually.
Rocky Mountain Horse Association
P. O. Box 129
Mt. Olivet, Kentucky 41064
Tel: (606) 724-2354
Web Site: www.rmhorse.com
The Rocky Mountain Horse®
is a certification mark issued to the Rocky Mountain Horse Association
by the U.S. Patent office. This name may be applied only to those
horses registered by the Rocky Mountain Horse Association.