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Movement of Saddlebreds

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    Movement of Saddlebreds

    Hi all,

    I am up late, and have nothing better to do. I am literally laying here, looking at the ceiling in the dark, and a thought just popped into my head.

    How does it feel to ride a Saddlebred?

    I did mainly hunter/jumpers the last few years, so I’ve ridden TBs, ponies, various crosses, and Warmbloods. I actually really enjoy ponies because I am shorter. Warmbloods can be fun, they have such big lofty movement. I also LOVED riding Arabians when I was young, they were very fun rides.

    Anyway, how would you describe a Saddlebreds movement while riding? What does that even feel like? I’ve been told it feels upright (correct me if I’m wrong).

    I only rode one once, and all I can say is racking is AWESOME!
    That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...


      Upright would describe it. Even if the head is set they tend to have a long neck, hold it high and it will feel in your face a little. My memory of the gaits is being popped out of the saddle, very vertical gaits though the ideal is high AND forward.
      Racking IS very fun, and they can have two types of canter, the very upright and very comfortable carousel canter and a longer canter that still has the up and down component.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


        Originally posted by OTTBs View Post
        I only rode one once, and all I can say is racking is AWESOME!
        People with gaited horses say, if I can get someone on one and gaiting, they get the biggest smile and exclaim, "that is so much fun!"

        Similar is heard with cutting, get someone on a nice cutter in front of a cow, even just a flag on a fence, jumping back and forth and they are hooked, or a reiner spinning, big grins and asking "may I try that again?"

        I think everyone that has a chance ought to try something they are not familiar with, expand their horizons and see how that feels, where that takes them.


          It's a gas! They are powerful movers but usually kind and pretty level headed. Go take a lesson - you will enjoy it, even if it seems a little weird at first.


            I'm assuming you mean ride a Saddlebred doing saddleseat specifically? Because a lot more are going as sporthorses now, and that's a whole different thing. Not all are 5-gaited, but for saddleseat, they want the back a bit locked, and the leg action showy going up and down. So it's very powerful/forward feeling in the trot but because the back is locked, it's not jolting, and the canters is a rocking horse canter - very up/down and not ground covering, so VERY different from a rolling along hunter or a big dressage horse, but super comfy to ride! Most of them have the BEST personalities - they are people pleasers Saddleseat is not a sport I want to do exclusively, but I gained new respect by dabbling into it, and it is FUN!


              The ASB trot is so much fun! Open, upward, pushing, ear tips in your nose, brave. Just amazing. And BOTTOMLESS.


                Original Poster

                Wow, thanks for the excellent responses!

                I agree Bluey, trying new disciplines is important. I recently stopped jumping lessons because I felt bored and in a rut.

                I have always wanted to try a ranch horse. My ex worked on a cattle farm in Texas for years and he said they are some of the quickest, cattiest horses he ever rode -- so hold on! He always thought my dressage and jumping lessons looked boring

                I was always under the impression growing up that I would not enjoy a Saddlebred. At our local shows, they always looked nervous and their trot looked like it would pop you right out of the saddle. But I have heard SO many good things about them. I had a h/j trainer say her favorite horses were the old style Saddlebred, and they made great jumpers. (I think she was referring to 1980s?). Glad to hear they are also even tempered.

                As for them being used as sport horses, I had never really heard that... I'd be curious to see a more sport horse like Saddlebred. I see them crossed a lot with Arabians for NSH, and since I love Arabians, I was always curious as to why that cross is so popular.


                  I event an "old school style" Saddlebred and he is one of the most fun horses I've ever had the chance to ride. Best brain too. He's athletic, smart, saves my butt all the time, and opinionated as hell, but in the way the best schoolmasters teach you. I'd never ridden one before him and was super skeptical about eventing one, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


                    I took some lessons in Saddle seat on Saddlebreds back in the day. I'll have to disagree with everyone else, I hated it.

                    I have ridden two Saddlebreds that were non used for Saddle seat, one was trained dressage and one over fences. They were fine. Not my personal preference.


                      I switched from hunters/dressage to saddleseat. It’s a blast!

                      It is a lot more like dressage than riding a hunter. Seat position is much more similar, and hands as well.

                      You know the big extended trot that sometimes you get in dressage? Where you feel like you’re hustling along? It’s kind of like that only you get more of it before you hit the end of the arena. Canters vary, some are like a delicate little swing, some are big like a dressage horse.

                      I know quite a few saddlebred sporthorses. They would walk through fire for their people. My saddlebred is mistaken for a warmblood when not in “saddlebred mode”. Truly awesome horses.


                        Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
                        I took some lessons in Saddle seat on Saddlebreds back in the day. I'll have to disagree with everyone else, I hated it.

                        I have ridden two Saddlebreds that were non used for Saddle seat, one was trained dressage and one over fences. They were fine. Not my personal preference.
                        Saddlebreds are not my thing either, but when William Steinkraus considered them, he won as a kid their big saddlebred "Good Hands" class, then went to several olympics in jumping, well, I am going to listen.

                        Like with everything else with horses, there is something for everyone in all we do with horses.
                        We just need to find what that is and for many, saddlebreds is that.


                          Another vote for Saddlebreds. The gaited ones are a blast to ride. People think they're "hot" but they're really not. They just look that way. The Saddlebreds I've owned and known have all been intelligent, kind, level-headed and really watch out for their rider.

                          I've also known Saddlebreds that were fox hunted, ridden in endurance and competed as jumpers and all were stars. Saddlebreds can jump like deer and they have limitless stamina.


                            I haven't ridden one but i used to drive them. Not sure where my pictures went or i would post some. I loved their temperament. The ones i knew were pretty laid back, very non spooky, brave, yet at the same time they had a very big engine and plenty of energy. I actually really liked them. They reminded me of an Arabian without the spook factor - don't get me wrong, some arabians are great, they just tend to be very flighty. Driving them was an incredible experience - sort of like driving a Standardbred racehorse. You had to be careful because when they extended that trot, they could really throw clods of dirt in your face. So much fun!

                            The ones i worked with weren't gaited. I'm not certain how much i would enjoy riding one. The big trotting horses tend to really shove the rider up at the trot. My foxtrotter for example has a huge trot that really pushes you out of the seat. It's not very comfortable.


                              I grew up riding ASBs and the first horse I owned was a ASB. He was started as a 3 gaited show horse, but didn't stay "up" enough in the ring, so he went on to become a beginner lesson horse. When the riding school closed, he was given to me. We did pretty much anything I wanted to try. He was an amazing fox hunter. He could jump the MOON! and had amazing stamina. I never found the bottom of his gas tank, even after 20 miles.

                              His extended trot was so easy to ride and it seemed to be the pace that he used the least effort for covering ground in a timely fashion. Out hunting we would be trotting and the others around us would be doing a hand gallop.

                              He was incredibly kind, surefooted and trustworthy. If you didn't know how to ride, he would walk along, maybe trot if you asked. If you knew how to ride, he could really become a sports car, but only doing exactly what you had asked for.

                              I have ridden several different ones, and like other breeds, there can be a huge difference in how each horse goes.


                                I took lessons at a Saddledbred barn, but not Saddlreseat, just correct English "centered" riding. Best horse in the world to learn to post on with that big trot. Beautiful canter. I have gaited horses now, but not ASB. I regret that I have never ridden a 5 gaited ASB, I'm sure it would be a blast.

                                I've described them to people as hotter than a pistol but sweet as sugar. I mean hot in a good way, energetic, very willing. They are natural show horses, maybe the only horses I've ridden that seemed to actually ENJOY going around in circles indoors, even when toting total beginners.

                                The ASBs I lessoned on enjoyed getting out on trails as well, never saw one use being outside as an excuse to become spooky or idiotic. And they literally jump like deer.

                                I'd love to own one. Especially a naturally gaited one, because their rack has to be incredible.

                                I think many gaited horses/ saddle horse breeds (TWH, RMH, MFT etc) have similar honest, people pleasing, pocket horse personalities.


                                  I took several months worth of saddleseat lessons (gaited and not) and thought it was a fun experience, though not my discipline of choice as rail classes are generally my least favorite part of riding/showing. The ASBs were almost all sweethearts who happened to be trained to show off big gaits and big attitude. Racking was completely foreign-feeling but super fun. I found it to be like riding different horses in any discipline - some you really click with and feel comfy on, and some feel funky or have awkward-riding gaits. As a side note, I found the long feet and consequent lack of turnout to be a personal bummer (but I only rode at one facility and I honestly and humbly don’t know enough about the industry to have an overall opinion. I am certainly aware that there are plenty of other SS sub-divisions and of course non-show horses that that doesn’t apply to anyway.)

                                  I have never met or observed a sport-bred ASB (that I know of) - would love to, though! Great horses.


                                    I tried Saddleseat only one time on a Saddlebred. It was really different! Head and neck UP and it felt like the legs were pistons. Odd trying to ride sitting way back with legs stuck out and hands high. I did get little gait ( I think slowgait?) which was really cool and the canter was lovely.

                                    A Saddlebred show trainer rented part of a barn where I once boarded. Really didnt like the methods of no turnout and short, intense workouts with various noisemakers. Ironically, all that kind of bombproofed some of the horses so they had to keep finding more things to get the horses to react. YMMV

                                    I knew of two Saddlebreds not used SS. One was a lovely young mare that the owner got because she was a bit small and quiet for SS showing. She looked like she would make a lovely dressage horse. The other was a jumper that I saw a few times at shows many years ago. They would put a gutsy kid up and the horse would snort and go sideways and get in totally wrong to the jump and then clear it! His style was really bizarre and the kid would grab mane and get bounced so you would see air between him and the saddle over the jump, then they would land, point to the next jump, and repeat. Great fun to watch.



                                      Perhaps one of my favorite videos of Saddlebred show horses. A compilation from the world championship horse show several years ago. I think it gives a good idea of some of the riding.
                                      ​ At about 1:54, is a very good rider on a powerful trotting horse, she's getting tossed around a bit.... It is riding on the edge. A lot of good horses at the end racking in the 5-gaited championship class. Note there was a workout of the better horses at the end, the other horses in the class have to hang out in the middle of the ring with a loud, cheering crowd and electric atmosphere...

                                      They are largely fun, personable, level-headed, athletic horses... For those who have not seen the sport horse types check out some of the Saddlebred sport horse pages...



                                      Last edited by cb06; Sep. 18, 2019, 08:20 AM.
                                      "A good horse is worth more than riches."
                                      - Spanish Proverb


                                        Here are some of my favorite saddlebred sport horse videos: