Please be sure to visit our sponsor, 
T& F Saddlery - Great Gaited Horse Saddles.
Let them know you appreciate their support of these articles!

The  Mountain Horses

The Mountain Horses basic characteristics are a medium-sized horse of gentle temperament with an easy ambling four-beat gait.  Ranging between 13.3 and 16 hands with small heads, short ears, widely spaced eyes, and soft expressions. Their profiles are usually straight or slightly convex just above the nostrils. Mountain horses are known for their long life span.

Horses from Sam Tuttle's stock provide a portion of the foundation horses in the mountain horse associations: Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses, Rocky Mountain Horses, and Mountain Pleasure Horses. Among all three associations' foundation stock, will be found a sprinkling of American Saddlebred, The Paso Fino and Tennessee Walkers as well as horses with unverified lineage but who strongly demonstrate the desired gait and disposition. 

In 1989 research performed at U.K.ís Gluck Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky, determined that there was sufficient consistency in Mountain horses to be classified as a new breed. Mountain horse registration has been limited to those horses that demonstrate as many of the desired traits as possible, whether their backgrounds are fully known or not. The Mountain Horse Associations had to focus on a gait (natural, four beat, smooth, etc) and disposition (docile but alert, calm, willing, full of heart, etc.) to ensure perpetuation of the breed's characteristics.

The Mountain Pleasure Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association, Incorporated 

(MPHBEA) is a new registry dedicated to promoting, preserving, and enhancing the breeding and showing of the breed from the bloodline of the "Old Mountain Horse" of Eastern Kentucky.  The MPHBEA is a product of those persons who wish to see the Mtn. Horse recognized outside the Kentucky area.  This breed is too wonderful to be kept a secrete.  The goal is to promote this outstanding breed through public awareness, by member involvement & input & lastly to bring the horse to a national show horse status.  Foundation books are now open for registration. 

Color is not a criteria for this association.  All horses must be registered and DNA Tested to ensure purity of the breed (MPHBEA is the first Mountain Horse Organization to conduct DNA Testing).  Stallions must be a minimum of 14.2 hands, mares & geldings are to be at least 14.0.

Horses must demonstrate a natural four beat gait in order to be registered.  The MPHBEA is a not-for-profit corporation; incorporated and registered in the Commonwealth of KY.

For more information on MPHBEA, please contact us at: 
or e-mail us at: 

Rocky Mountain Horse® 

The breed is best known for gentleness. It is an easy keeper and a wonderful riding horse with a strong heart and endurance. Many of the horses are descendents of  Tobe, a stallion owned by  Sam Tuttle who stated that he bred  for the smooth four beat saddle gait, the excellent disposition, and its versatility. 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 this horse makes it ideally suited for working around cattle and for 4-H projects. Rocky Mountain 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. 

In 1986 Rocky Mountain Horse Association was formed. The association has established a registry with standards be maintained and a panel of examiners has been set 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 established characteristics for the breed 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 shaped ears. 

2. The horse must have a natural ambling four-beat gait (single foot or rack) 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 hock. 

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. 

Rocky Mountain Horse Association
National Headquarters
2805 Lancaster Rd.
Danville, KY 40422
Phone/Fax(606) 238-7754 

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse has been bred in the hills of Kentucky for over 200 years. How the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse got its original start is still a great mystery, but  for centuries the mountain people of Kentucky bred for a smooth even four beat gait, temperament, disposition and for a horse that could be self  sufficient. 

KMSHA requires that all horses have video submitted in order to get certified for registration. 
KMSHA suggests that to register by video, you  do the following with the horse: 

               1. Show it leading with a halter, without a saddle, in a 30 foot circle in both 
               directions (clockwise and counter clockwise). Record in good light, butavoid 
               positions that throw shadows on the part being recorded. Hold the camera steady, 
               have the handler of the horse turn the horse as needed rather than the operator of 
               the camera moving about the horse. 

               2. Show the horse at four angles standing (a) front view; (b) right side;(c) rear vies: 
               (d) and left side. Be sure to record a FULL-BODY view of each side. Zoomin for 
               a close-up of the face. Pull the forelock aside for a full view of the forehead. Zoom 
               down the neck and chest and legs to the feet. Zoom in on the rear, pull tail aside, 
               and move down the legs to the feet. Zoom in on the shoulder and move down legs 
               to the feet, showing all markings if any are present. When recording close-ups, 
               especially of markings, PAUSE long enough to allow recording of the part 

               3. Pick up the horse's foot and show close-up, and show if shoed, the kind of shoe 
               it has on. 

               4. Saddle up the horse, mount (record horse and rider as the horse is being 
               mounted) and ride for at least two minutes (more as needed) to show gait as 
               observed from the right/left sides; moving straight away from the camera and 
               straight back toward the camera. Don't ride the horse in grass too high to see or 
               hear the feet. At times, the video must be reviewed in slow motion to evaluate the 
               gait, so the feet must be seen. 

               5. Ride the horse on a road or hard surface to hear the count beats, record 
               close-up of feet and legs in action. By riding on a hard surface, it will be easier for 
               the person reviewing the tape to see and hear clearly the hoof beats. 

In order to achieve our goal that KMSHA horses be ASD (AA) free the Kentucky Mountain Saddle  Horse Association has adopted the following policy: 

                  1. All existing certified to breed stallions will be grandfathered in, but must be 
                    blood typed for identification purposes by December 31, 1998. 
                  2. All foals registered in 1998 must be blood typed for identification. 
                  3. All foals registered in 1999 must be blood typed for parentage. 
                  4. All mares must be blood typed for identification by December 31, 1999. 
                  5. Because the mare books are still open, mares to be certified that are not out 
                    of KMSHA registered stock or do not have registration papers from 
                    another breed must prove parentage by blood typing or be accepted with 
                    unknown pedigree. 
                  6. Geldings do not have to be blood typed. 
                  7. With the exclusion of existing certified breeding stock (grandfathered in as 
                    is), all horses certified to breed in 1998 must be examined by a qualified 
                    veterinarian (approved by the KMSHA board) and found to be free of ASD 
                    New Rule: When a vet wants to have an ASD diagnosis accepted by the 
                    KMSHA, he/she may view the tape of Dr. Ramsey's presentation or 
                    provide evidence of sufficient training. Documentation on the appropriate 
                    form must be provided. As far as the association is concerned, we are only 
                    interested in a diagnosis of "ASD (AA) free." Any report of the condition of 
                    the horse's eyes is between the buyer and seller. It is not the responsibility of 
                    the KMSHA. 

 The association strongly suggests responsible breeding practices. It is not  recommended that ASD (AA) horses be bred. Foals from ASD(AA) parents that are presented for certification must be ASD (AA) free. 

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association
P O Box 505 
Irvine, KY 40336 

The Mountain Pleasure Horse

Mountain Pleasure Horse
 Mountain Pleasure Horse Association goal is to preserve the bloodlines of the Mountain Pleasure Horse, then to build  the population of Mountain Pleasure Horses. Registration papers certify they meet the stringent criteria of the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association (MPHA) and to encourage the breeding of Mountain Pleasure Horses. 

Kentucky governor Brereton Jones, in  September of 1994 recognized in his official proclamation: 

                          1."The Horsemen of Eastern Kentucky developed a type of horse, known 
                              as the Mountain Pleasure Horse, to be smooth of gait, gentle of disposition, 
                              willing to work and sure-footed as necessary for mountain terrain; and 
                          2.This Mountain Pleasure Horse has been carefully and closely bred for over 
                             160 traceable years along the original Kentucky mountain bloodlines; and 
                          3.Blood typing research by the University of Kentucky has shown the Mountain 
                             Pleasure Horse to be the parent stock of American gaited horse breeds," 

The Mountain Pleasure Horse is the old-time gaited breed of horse that existed in Kentucky 160   years ago and from which selective breeders developed the Tennessee Walking Horses, American Saddlebred Horse sand more recently Rocky Mountain Horses. Long before these other gaited breeds were in existence, a particular type of horse was being bred on the steep hillsides to work the fields and "ride the best". The Mountain Pleasure Horse quietly existed in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky where the Breeders maintained the old-time horse, by selecting for their basic criteria--  GAIT and DISPOSITION 

To be eligible for registration, the horse must meet these and other registration rules concerning conformation: 

The Mountain Pleasure Horse a horse who's height will be no less than 58 inches (14.2 hands) at the withers prior to inspection and being permanently registered. . Medium sized bones, with medium feet in proportion to the body and a wide, deep chest. The Mountain Pleasure Horse's  fore and hind legs should be free of noticeable deformity with the shoulders sloping, ideally with an angle of 45 degrees. Any solid body color is acceptable, however spotted Mountain Pleasure Horses are not encouraged by the association for breeding or showing. . Standard recognized colors of the Mountain Pleasure Horse include, but are not limited to, bay, black, chestnut/sorrel, roan, gray cremello, buckskin, palomino, and  chocolate. 
Horses must demonstrate the recognized gait under saddle. The recognized gait is defined as follows: 

An evenly spaced, four beat lateral gait with moderate forward speed and extension, without exaggerated knee or hock action. The gait should be smooth, supple, cadenced and animated with the horse collected and balanced and exhibiting symmetry in flexion and extension. 

Mountain Pleasure Horses must exhibit good disposition and a reasonable amount of "eye appeal". 

The MPHA registration books are now closed and only offspring of a registered stallion and a registered mare can be submitted for registration. We have no provisions for "grade mares." The MPHA registration process requires that all horses submitted for permanent registration be videotaped demonstrating gait and the Board of Directors of  the MPHA must approve each horse. The MPHA requires that all its horses be blood typed by the University of Kentucky for absolute identification of parentage before  papers are issued. 

Mountain Pleasure Horse Association
P.O. Box 79
 Wellington, Ky 40361

 Mountain Pleasure Horse Breed Standard

BACK to List of Articles