If you're in the market for a flashy, comfortable, good-natured riding horse, take a look at the spotted saddle horse. As the name suggests, these horses are pintos or paints. Their easy gaits make them ideal for long trail rides. Riders with back problems who find it too painful to ride horses that only walk, trot and canter might return to the saddle with a smooth, gaited equine.
The spotted saddle horse descends from Tennessee Walking horses and Missouri fox trotters, both gaited breeds, crossed with paints of various lineage. Some spotted saddle horses also sport Tennessee Walker registration. Other bloodlines found in the spotted saddle horse include the standardbred, paso fino, Peruvian paso, mustangs and various pony breeds.
Spotted saddle horses range from 13.3 hands to 15.2 hands and over, with any animal under 14.2 hands technically considered a pony. The animal's weight should be commensurate to its height. The National Spotted Saddle Horse Association states that the horse should "closely resemble a smaller, slightly stockier Tennessee Walking Horse."
Spotted saddle horses may appear in piebald -- black and white patterns -- or skewbald, which is brown and white. Actual color patterns include the tobiano, where the white extends across the back, downward. The tobiano usually has a solid-colored head. The overo pattern is the opposite, with the white originating on the abdomen and heading up. The rare tovero has tobiano and overo patterns -- this is a horse with a lot of white coloration. Sabino horses resemble roans, a mixture of white hairs among a base coat, but often include white faces and high white stockings. The sabino's base coat can be bay, sorrel or other common horse hues.
The spotted saddle horse boasts many of the same gaits as the Tennessee Walker. These gaits include the flat walk, running walk, stepping pace, single-foot, fox-trot, pace and rack, as well as the good, old-fashioned canter. Like Tennessee Walkers, most spotted saddle horses nod their heads at the walk and take very long strides. Like other gaited breeds, spotted saddle horses don't trot.
The spotted saddle horse is a relatively new breed, developed in the past half-century. The National Spotted Saddle Horse Associated will register horses, no matter the animal's background, if it is spotted and gaited. The NSSHA does not register any horse that trots. If a registered horse produces a solid-colored foal, the NSSHA issues identification-only papers, but these animals cannot be shown as spotted saddle horses. Another breed registry, the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors' Association, requires that at least one of the animal's parents is registered with them as a spotted saddle horse.
- Equisearch: Spotted Saddle Horse Breed
- Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors' Association: Color Patterns
- National Spotted Saddle Horse Association: About the Spotted Saddle Horse
- Gaited Horses: Spotted Saddle Horse
- The Equinest: Spotted Saddle Horse
- National Spotted Saddle Horse Association: NSSHA Registration Divisions
- Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors' Association: Application for Registration
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.