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Horse Talk


Plantation owners who needed a horse to carry them comfortably for many hours a day developed this elegant breed. Today, the American Saddle Horse is primarily a show horse, and exhibits in three-gaited, five-gaited, and fine harness classes. A three-gaited horse shows with a clipped mane and tail, and performs the three natural gaits - walk, trot, and cantor. The five-gaited horse shows with full mane and tail, and wears quarter boots to protect the front feet. Five-gaited horses perform the three natural gaits, plus two man-made gaits - the slow gait and rack. Fine Harness horses show at two gaits - an animated walk and a park trot.

The Hackney breed owes much to the Arab and Thoroughbred breeds, and came into demand as a military and carriage horse in the 19th century. Today, it is seen driven in the show ring for which its extravagant, elevated trot and spirited disposition are ideally suited. Its neat head carries high on an arched neck and it has a high set tail. The usual colors are bay, brown, and chestnut.

The Arabian is the oldest pure breed of horse in the world and influenced the development of other breeds. Along with beauty and speed, the Arabian is known for stamina, hereditary soundness, and intelligence. The Arabian is used as both an English and Western riding horse and excels in endurance competition.

An American original, the Morgan mixes refinement and endurance. Justin Morgan, the breed's foundation sire (named for his owner) was used for farming, hauling, plowing, and racing, and excelled at all of these. The modern Morgan is an ideal all-around horse. The Morgan stands at an average of 15 hands and has strong shoulders, short, strong legs, hard feet, and a refined, attractive head set on a muscular, crested neck. It is usually bay, brown, chestnut, or black and shows in English, Western, and harness classes.

One of America's most popular breeds, the Quarter Horse, takes it name from quarter mile sprints in which it often raced in Colonial times. As the nation moved west, so did the Quarter Horse, which was frequently used as a cow pony. It is an attractive, compact horse of kind disposition with good conformation with massive, powerful hindquarters, strong shoulders, and a short, muscular back. It averages about 15 hands and usually is chestnut, bay, sorrel, black, or palomino, although any solid color is permissible. Its intelligence and great ability make it a popular all-purpose horse.

The speed horse of the show ring, the road horse usually is of the Standardbred breed and shows at a jog, trot, and road gait. The road horse has an attractive appearance, balanced conformation, speed, and animation. The road horse should work at all speeds with straight and true action and should be able to go at full speed in both directions of the ring, as the judge requires. 

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