View Full Version : Rocky Mountain Horses

Dec. 30, 2009, 04:51 PM
I am looking for a new trail partner having had to retire my trail buddy of many years due to navicular ...... he also has advanced moon blindness but that has never been an issue. Anyway, I keep coming across ads for RMH s and although I have never been interested in the least in a gaited horse I find myself really liking the look of this breed. So..... why would one buy a RMH, except for trail riding? They do not seem to be a very versatile horse or am I mistaken. RMH lovers please educate me on this breed.

Dec. 30, 2009, 05:02 PM
We've had two rockies at our farm. They have the temperment of a big lap dog. Sweet and quiet. Very steady mounts... hardy... easy going. And the gait... oh so smooth! You'll never bouce again!

Dec. 30, 2009, 05:04 PM
I love the "Rockys"
Ride occasionally with some folks who ride rockys, and believe me, my lil Arab who LOVES to trot all day, has to go into her Loooong trot to keep up at their gait!!
These folks Mooove out!!
Not very large horses, but lots of smooooth power and a nice easy temper too. Great to camp with too!

Dec. 30, 2009, 07:24 PM
my best night pony at the track was a rocky mountain spotted saddlehorse............. his canter was awesome, smooth, steady, as was he in temperment. Sweet, kind, consistant...... plus a hard-worker. Strong horse in many ways, and always tolerant of silly tb's all over him.
he worked 2 yrs, every night....... in all the elements and then retired to trail rides and lessons for beginners before finding his own family ---- who love him dearly.
he stood a honest 15h, but was as wide as a house, took all my leg and always felt like I was riding a big horse! plus...... soundness was Never an issue, this guy was made of rock! easy keeper, tolerated weather well, and totally social with all other horses and riders.

Dec. 30, 2009, 07:29 PM
I think they are non spotted, spotted saddle horses. :D
Should have great temperament, stoutish, not too tall, and ideally possess a solid 4 beat saddle lick gait and a canter.

Watch out for issues w/ inbreeding that results in a predisposition for moonblindness in the chocolate colored ones and perhaps DSLD, I'm not sure on the latter...

Not versatile? Well, what do you want them to do? They shouldn't trot, so 'true' dressage is out, usually trail ridden so real jumping is not something you'd typically train a lateral going, non trotting breed for...beyond that -exactly what is it you WANT them to do? I don't see TBs in the cutting pen but that doesn't mean TBs aren't versatile...

Dec. 30, 2009, 07:32 PM
I compete in many obstacles challenges and for many years too. For 2 years running an older couple won at this particular venue on their RM...the first year they had only been riding for a short time!! and won!!

Dec. 30, 2009, 08:02 PM
Well I have 2 horses, one being a Rocky. Shes an in your pocket type on the ground, but pretty sprightly under saddle... She would do anything youd ask under saddle, except trot... Very easy keepers,very affiliative and usually affectionate and interested in the humans activities. That said, because they are so sweet and easy going,"puppy-doggish" if you will... Ive seen a few on the fat and la-zy side, and spoiled! Questions about breeders or such like that PM me and Ill try to hook you up! Theres a good list on yahoo groups for info too. If you trail ride alot, you will end up finding other gaited horse riders to go out with because even though my mare is short (14.2) the big horses cant keep up with her!

Dec. 30, 2009, 08:24 PM
I always thought that RMH were chocolate brown with lighter coloured manes but after looking at a number of web sites they seem to come in all colours. I am up in Canada (ontario) so breeders will be relatively harder to come by I think but I will try to find a couple in the area to visit to see if they have anything suitable.

Dec. 30, 2009, 10:17 PM
I wanted nothing to do with ANY gaited horse until I rode a Rocky. I was hooked and will hopefully get to own one before I die. Sooo smooth and very levelheaded. Unfortunately, They can be a little pricey, which is why I don't have one yet. I did jump at the chance to get a TW pony for free, and am having a great time trail riding her. Good Luck and keep us up with what you find.

Dec. 30, 2009, 10:30 PM
Though, as mentioned by previous posters, they are not really for jumping or even dressage (though dressage en gait is growing!)..they are fantastic horses! I helped put trail miles on my friend's Rocky and also got to ride a few others and they are all sweet, willing and sensible. Phenomenal for trail riding in all terrain. As sisely said, they sure can book. When I rode a TWH w the Rocky people, we had to canter to keep up! So if you want 100% fun in the saddle and on the ground..Rockies are great! They can be seen holding their own against the Arabians in endurance as well.
Unfortunately, the lovely chocolate palomino or drk coat w flaxen mane and tail also colored horses are at high risk for having genetic predisposition for ASD (anterior segment dysgensis) an eye problem. Many times the vision is okay, but still. Also, they can be carriers and no have it (sort of like hypp? ). Most breeders of Rockies are vary knowledgeable and will have proof of horses ASD status. Maybe someone else can explain the implications better.
However, they come in many lovely colors and many of the chocolate horses are are not positive for ASD.
Good Luck and Enjoy!!

Dec. 31, 2009, 03:58 AM
They sound like a fascinating breed. Any soundness issues? Can they be expected to go the longer distances? Are they more for pleasure trail riding or can they be considered as an alternative to an arab in competitive endurance?

Diamond Jake
Dec. 31, 2009, 05:18 AM
They sound like a fascinating breed. Any soundness issues? Can they be expected to go the longer distances? Are they more for pleasure trail riding or can they be considered as an alternative to an arab in competitive endurance?

A friend of mine competes on an Arab/Rocky cross and does well. But I suppose that does not really answer your question, does it? Sorry!

Dec. 31, 2009, 05:25 AM
A few years ago, I developed some health problems that made riding straight gaited horses very painful. I was looking at Pasos when my vet suggested I purchase a Rocky. Once I learned a little about the breed, I was hooked. However, I wasn't going to pay $6,500 for a trail horse. We found a 3yo across the country and purchased her sight-unseen. She was unbroken, but you would have never known it. We tacked her up and started riding after maybe a week or so of ground work. She was a saint and the smoothest horse I've ever sat on. She was small (about 14.2H) and we did end up selling her once I was able to ride straight-gaited horses again. I do the Hunters and she did not fit that bill at all. However, she was an ideal trail horse that I would have put anyone on and taken them about anywhere. She was sure-footed, sound, and not spooky at all. The PERFECT trail horse!!

Dec. 31, 2009, 09:29 AM
They sound like a fascinating breed. Any soundness issues? Can they be expected to go the longer distances? Are they more for pleasure trail riding or can they be considered as an alternative to an arab in competitive endurance?


Guys, they are just a fancy colored gaited horse. They have a smooth power walk that will not, mile for mile, compete with a big airy Arabian endurance horse trot.

Soundness issues, no. They just aren't magikal ;)

Painted Horse
Dec. 31, 2009, 10:00 AM
Well said Katarine.

I enjoy gaited horses. But I have lost interest in endurance since I switched to a gaited horse. My Foxtrotters can finish the endurance race, But they are not fast enough to place if you are a competitive person. ( and I personally don't see any reason to spend $70-$80 to enter a race if I'm not going to try to be competitive) I do see the gaited breeds (including Rockies) doing very well at NATRC Competitive Trail Rides.

Rockies are known for being very calm, easy to train and having a smooth gait. They are usually a little more laterial than the foxtrotters. They are not usually as big as TWH or MFT horses. But are usually a little stockier than the Paso breeds. But I've not been around 100s of them, so maybe my exposure is baised.

And any gaited horse can walk slower so your friends can keep up. It's just not as much fun to dog walk. Kinda like buying a Corvette and only driving it in School Zones at 20mph.

I once was invited at the last minute to join some folks for a trail ride. I complained about being invited late. One of the group confided, they were not going to invite me because my horse always walked too fast and those on quarter horses ended up hard trotting to keep up. I made sure for that entire ride that we stayed at the back of the group, to prove my horse was well mannered and could walk slow. They can do it. You just have to ask.

Dec. 31, 2009, 10:59 AM
Rocky Mt horses are NOT/NEVER prone to DSLD.

They can if they have two silver dapple genes be prone to ASD. Choco horses eyes can be tested by a certified eye doctor, and yes they are out there. Horses who are bay or black do not have a silver dapple gene, therefore do not have ASD, and they can not pass it on. Thus, my horse is black. I like choco, but I like a clear eyed horse the best.

You can do anything with a gaited horse you can do with a non-gaited horse.

There are breed specifics, which you can check out on their website. I am a member so if you want any pedigree lookups, let me know. Or other info.

Most are stout. Mine is 15.1HH. I never had a gaited horse, much less ridden one at length. She is my first. I have found the Rocky has an Arab pay attention on the trail, but a QH reaction, they do not as a rule spook. They have a sweet, kind, smart, and of a very gentle temp. I have found the breed is a total natural on the trails. They are super easy keepers. My filly is a tough gal. She is no whimp with regards to terrain. Some have some spice to them, but not all. Some lines have some hottness/spice as all breeds do. So be informed on your lines, and on the silver dapple gene.

I looked very carefully at several ads/breeders. In every breed, there are good ones and bad ones. The lady I got my filly from is really into the breed, takes great care of all her horses, I liked that alot.

Rocky's need no special shoeing to gait.

Rocky's have to have a solid body, and there are restrictions on how much white they allow on the face and legs. Check their website for more info. If a purebred Rocky is born with too much white it is easy to register in the spotted mt horse. My filly has two hind white socks, and she is black.

My filly has a nice slow gait. She can go faster, but she is young and I don't want her to always go that slow. I bought her as a 1.5 year old, and I broke, trained, and breed certified her my self. She is now 3.5 yrs old.

In every breed: you get what you pay for.

Be smart, and informed and you will get a great horse.

Dec. 31, 2009, 12:01 PM
I think most of the KY saddle horse breeds, the TWH's, racking horses etc have similar, lap-horse personality traits. Most are related if you go back far enough. Ithink that most can and will trot but are discouraged from doing so under saddle. If you can push the right buttons you could certainly do about anything with the saddle breeds that you can with other breeds, but, no, they are not going to win endurance like Arabs, cut cows like QH's, steeplechase like TBs and so on.

The silver/chocolate Rockies are pretty and merely the latest craze, so some breeders saw how many they could produce and reinforced some negative genes, just as has happened with Pasos, QHs, and I'm sure other breeds. Not to mention purebred dogs-- whenever an individual wins Westminster or is featured in a cute TV commercial you start getting a rash of over-breeding. Responsible breeders deal with these issues responsibly.

FWIW, you can get a lovely, well trained non-registered or registered gaited horse for a lot less than multiple K's. I am thinking of my old farrier in OH who would go down to KY and come back with a trailer full of fabulous, well gaited horses and re-sell them for a thousand bucks. Somehow all of them were always broke to death while also clearly never having been shod, clipped, or kept in a barn. They always had manes to their knees and tails full of snarls and burrs but by God they were some fine horses. This was all of maybe 15 years ago and I suspect the hills and hollers are still full of nice animals....

When I was a kid growing up in WV, it seemed that almost every horse and pony out in the country, including draft ponies, had the ability to ride or drive and were to some degree gaited, and a lot of them were liver chestnuts with flaxen manes and tails...it must be some kind of hillbilly thang.

Dec. 31, 2009, 12:25 PM
Thanks for the correction on the DSLD. Nagging in my mind is some leg related issue in some Rocky's, but apparently it's not DSLD.

Jeano, you are right on the color. I ran into a group of gals at East Fork on some PRETTY pretty pretty Rocky's, all chocolate with the silvery manes. That is a striking color.

but yes, color aside, all these 'breeds' are variations on a theme: four beat gaiting. Look at all the designer labels, though!
McCurdy (just line bred TWH horses off a farm in Selma, and one can get McCurdy papers on anythiing if it fits type and shows good gait...lots of recessive colors and not much if any white- look, it's a McCurdy!).

Rocky Mtn- stout and fancy colored- Rocky!
Spotted Mtn: Rocky with bleach :)
KY Mountain -stout or slim and common to fancy colored= Ky Mountain!
Singlefooter- ok they do need to singlefoot, an amped up rack flying down the side of the dirt road-
SSH- colored TWH
etc etc etc

They all share a propensity for the 4 beat ambly saddle gait, just pick the registering body that most suits you, or skip that entirely and buy a grade that's gaited to the hilt,and save some dough :)

Dec. 31, 2009, 12:33 PM
I am and always probably will be an Arabian lover. That said, If I do get a Rocky, it would be my trail and all around horse. They have always been an in your pocket horse, ready and willing to ride all day, perhaps not at 7mph like a lot of competitive Arabs, but to win is to finish too!
At 63, I won't be doing the Tevis, but will do the local and regional rides.
My Lil Arabian mare can be competitive and has a loooong trot to die for. It is ME who has the limitations. Sooo I can see a Rocky in my future for my recreational rides.


Dec. 31, 2009, 12:45 PM
This summer I stayed overnight and trail rode at a ranch that had Rockies and TWHs. One night, they were having a local gaming show in their arena with most of the competitors on gaited horses. It was pretty cool watching them do pole bending, flag races, and the like. :) That's really been my only experience with them.

Dec. 31, 2009, 01:00 PM
A good horse is never a bad color; but a bad horse can be a good color.

Moral of the Story: Never buy a horse based solely upon color.

There are a whole bunch of "mountain horses." Google it and you'll get a number of types (Rocky Mountain, KY, etc.). They are mostly descended from TN Walkers if you back far enough. If not directly from Walkers then from the same root stock that produced the Walker.

Any breed can have health issues. Smaller breeds can be more problematical because of limited genetic bases. But then in QHs you've got the legacy of Impressive, so size of the genetic base is really not a guarantee of anything.

Gaited horses can have some limits. If the horse is a laterally gaited animal then it will do very well on straight lines but will have touble moving laterally. The gait, however, is generally smooth (unless you have a true pacer). The more diagonal soft gaits are generally less smooth but allow greater lateral movement (and participation in more "athletic" disciplines). If trail riding is the major goal then a lateral gait will not mean much. If you want to do more then maybe you want to look at a more diagonal gait.

Good luck in your search.


Jan. 2, 2010, 10:57 AM
Here in Ontario there are several breeders and I contacted one that has a good web site and really seems to stand by the horses she sells. She has a 30 day money back guarantee.....I love to see that from a breeder, it speaks volumes about how much they care about where their animals end up. She has quite a few very cute yearlings and 2 yr olds for sale and two older, better broke mares that she says are nicely gaited and good on trails. Both are black. She has offered to take me for a trail ride and I am certainly going to take her up on her offer as soon as we get a bit of a break in this icy weather. I will keep you posted.

Jan. 2, 2010, 11:48 AM
Kafue- Good luck. I think the outrageous prices have come down some... I bought a solid bay girl, so if you arent dead set on color (meaning the chocolates and dilutes) you can shop a bit too. I hope you enjoy your ride!

Jan. 2, 2010, 11:54 AM
I am and always probably will be an Arabian lover.

If you're an Arab person, look into Paso Finos. You may find Rockies to be too quiet.

There are trail/pleasure bred Pasos that can move out pretty well. They probably won't be competitive in endurance, but they can do well in LD/CTRs.

This Paso can give any Rocky a run for their money in the color/hair department. :lol:


Jan. 2, 2010, 12:24 PM
Rocky Mountain Horses are just horses. Some are good, some not so good, just like any other breed. They don't all have the "calm Rocky nature." I've seen and heard of many Rocky Mountain Horses that were anything but calm and tractable. Again, just horses, regardless of the advertising by the RMH Association and breeders.

Having said that, I have ridden Rockies that were a blast, but then I prefer the four beat rack over other gaited horses' gaits. And I do love the look of the Rockies, almost like a saddlebred. But, depending on your intended use, there are grade horses and other gaited breeds that do a singlefoot and will cost much less than a Rocky.

One thing about gaited horses, you almost have to ride it to determine if the gait is comfy for you. My husband's spotted saddle horse does almost a hard pace and he thinks it is comfortable, I don't. That is why I've always hesitated to buy an unbroke gaited horse, you don't know what you will get in terms of the personal comfort factor.

Also, from what I've seen and experienced, the gaited horses do ride faster than the stock breeds, but a strong trotting arab will out-pace and out-last them all and typically can travel faster over rougher terrain.

Good luck in your shopping just be careful to look at the horse as an individual, not the attributes of the breed.

Jan. 5, 2010, 07:17 PM
I adore Rockies. I also compete in LD AERC events on my 14hh rocky gelding. He is small but extremely sturdy and has a big heart. He completed back to back days at Yellowhammer this year and has "racked" up 170 competitive miles and is approaching his 1000 mile mark in training rides. He can easily travel around 7mph and there are several rockies competing successfully in endurance. Ru Da Di comes to mind and you can search for him on the AERC site. I love the Rocky Mountain Horse!

painted spirit
Jan. 11, 2010, 07:18 PM
One thing about gaited horses, you almost have to ride it to determine if the gait is comfy for you. My husband's spotted saddle horse does almost a hard pace and he thinks it is comfortable, I don't. That is why I've always hesitated to buy an unbroke gaited horse, you don't know what you will get in terms of the personal comfort factor.

This is so true! Every horse is different in gait - even comparing riding in a ring to taking them out on the trail. In the ring my gaited guy has certain gaits, but on the trail he gets extra "floaty" and more comfortable. And I can tell a difference if he is having a good day or an attitude day. This is more noticeable in my gaited horse than in my paint mare.

Jan. 20, 2010, 07:17 AM
So..... I went and tried a RMH. She stood around 15.2hh, black with four white socks. I was not too impressed looking at her as she is very slight through the body which I need as my leg is long. She was bred in Kentucky by a reputable breeder and shipped up to Ontario as a 3 yr old, in foal to a breeder here in Ontario already started under saddle. She is now 5 yrs old and has had more training under saddle but the current owner said she still needs some miles to make her solid. After watching her being ridden I got on her and tried her. I must say that I loved her mind and attitude, she tried so hard to figure out what I wanted and paced for me willingly even though we had to ride in an indoor arena and these horses find it hard to go in circles apparently. I ended up falling in love with her a little but have reservations about her being too small through the body, my lower legs felt like they were dangling below her barrel although my friends said that I did not look to big for her. I am going to go back once the ice is off their trails and try her on the trail before I make up my mind.

Jan. 20, 2010, 11:07 AM
My TWH gelding is all of 15 hands and I usually feel like I could lock my ankles under his barrel. But he is such a sweetie, great attitude, good mind--these gaited nags have those qualities for the most part, and that is what has hooked me on them even more than the smooth gaits--both my horses trot as well as doing a "saddle gait" and that's okay by me. They will take care of their rider and that is priceless.

Feb. 12, 2010, 09:50 PM
I have had the opportunity to ride 2 RMH's and they were both a blast! I don't know what you'd do other than trail riding, but boy were they fun!