The Rocky Mountain Horse is a breed that boasts a rich history and striking appearance. With a coat that shimmers in the sunlight and a gentle, gentle temperament, it’s no wonder that these equines are becoming increasingly popular among equestrians. The average cost of a Rocky Mountain Horse is $5,000 – they typically fetch a premium price. Read on to discover what makes the Rocky Mountain horse breed so special.
What Is a Rocky Mountain Horse?
The Rocky Mountain Horse is a breed developed in the United States. Rocky Mountain Horses are well-known for their dapple coat color and flaxen mane and tail. Their famous four-beat ambling gait is called the single-foot. The Rocky Mountain Horse is a calm and outgoing breed.
Rocky Mountain Horse History
Eastern Kentucky is a place where many horse breeds occur. Horse breeders were creating new equines by mixing Spanish and English Horses. They were crossbreeding equines from the southern United States and from the North. This led to occurring such breeds as Tennessee Walking Horses, Missouri Fox Trotters, and American Saddlebreds. The same goes for the Rocky Mountain Horses. This cross-breeding with the Tennessee Walking Horse and American Saddlebred resulted in acquiring the best traits of both parent breeds. These include a smooth gait, gentle temperament, and endurance – best for a trail horse.
The Rocky Mountain Horse shares its history with the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse. They are called together Mountain Pleasure Horses. Despite the breed’s name is “Rocky Mountain”, the horse came from another place – the Appalachian Mountains. The horse was bred from the stallion brought from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains in the 19th century.
The Rockies were primarily bred for farm work at Appalachian foothills. People used these horses to pull plows and work cattle. It was a good riding horse to traverse the mountain trails of Kentucky. Besides, these are cold-blooded horses that can easily withstand winters in that area.
Equines developed in eastern Kentucky are known for their distinctive gaits. The Rocky Mountain Horse has spread its chocolate coat color and flaxen mane and tail. As the area was small, the Rocky Mountain horse breed was easy to recognize among other equines.
The descendant that came from the foundation stallion was called Old Tobe. Sam Tuttle, a breeder from Spout Springs, Kentucky, was the owner of the horse. He was trying to preserve the Rocky Mountain Horse breed during World War II. A myriad of equines, like the Shire Horse, were abandoned and slaughtered in the 20th century.
Sam Tuttle took a significant part as a keeper of Rocky Mountain Horses. He managed to save his herd after the Second World War. He went on using Old Tobe as a breeding stallion. Tuttle also used Tobe for trail riding in his Natural Bridge State Park. Old Tobe partook in creating other trail horses in the herd. He passed his ambling gait to other equines.
One of Tobe’s sons, Tim, was a beautiful horse with dark chocolate coat color and white hair. Tim has never been shown, although word of mouth did its job. The horse became a famous breeding stallion. Tim’s offsprings feature a friendly temperament and a good four-beat gait.
To increase the breed’s population, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association was formed in 1986. This helped to improve the numbers of Rockies and spread the horses beyond the country. Horses must pass the test to be registered at the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. They must meet the requirements regarding their conformation and four-beat gait.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy put the Rockies on a “Threatened” list. This means that the global population is less than 15,000 horses per year.
Today’s Rocky Mountain Horses are still used as farming horses and riding horses for trail rides. Besides, they are used as show horses. Riders perform in pleasure riding and endurance riding with Rocky Mountain Horses. The Kentucky Horse Park annually hosts the International Rocky Mountain Horse Show. It’s an excellent pleasure horse that is ideal for both kids and adults. The breed is used in hippotherapy as well.
The Use of Rocky Mountain Horses in Endurance Riding
Endurance riding is a challenging equestrian sport that tests the strength and persistence of both horse and rider. Competitors must travel 50 to 100 miles or more, within a set time limit, while keeping their equine in excellent condition. The ideal endurance mount has an obedient nature with physical stamina enabling them to seamlessly traverse lengthy and rugged foothills without quickly tiring out.
The Rocky Mountain Horse is a premier breed for endurance riding, thanks to its signature “single-foot” gait that allows riders to cover huge distances with minimal effort. It’s no wonder the animal has gained fame among other breeds for its remarkable stamina and durability.
Rockies are not only known for their physical attributes but also their docile and gentle temperament. This makes them perfect for endurance riding since they remain focused in any situation, regardless of how unfamiliar or stressful it may be. Their calm personality helps make training a breeze.
Rocky Mountain Horse Temperament
People love the Rocky Mountain Horse for its easy-going temperament. They are calm and amiable, which makes the breed kid-friendly. The Rockies are highly intelligent. Training such horses is a pleasure. They are docile and loyal. Thus, when you set the “horse and rider” bond, you’ll have a superb companion.
Rocky Mountain Horses are snoopy animals. They’re curious about everything and everyone. Such horses like to be involved in the owner’s conversations. It’s an excellent choice to keep the Rocky Mountain Horse as a family pet. They are extremely friendly and energetic.
Rocky Mountain Horse Facts
As for the breed’s characteristics, the horse is hardy and energetic. The Rocky Mountain Horse height is 14 to 16 hands tall on average. And the weight is 850 to 1,000 pounds. Such horses are loved for their good nature and kind temperament.
The Rockies are easy keepers. They can withstand cold weather with poor shelter. The life expectancy of Rocky Mountain Horses is up to 35 years, which is impressive.
Rocky Mountain Horse Colors
The Rocky Mountain Horse has a coat of any color. The dark brown (chocolate) color with flaxen mane and tail is the most desirable. Such coloration is a result of the silver dapple gene. It’s a rare gene that affects black body color.
Excessive white markings are not allowed by the registry. Leg markings mustn’t go over the knees.
Rocky Mountain Horse Gait Explained
The Rocky Mountain Horse is extremely popular due to its distinctive hoof beats. The breed stands out with a natural ambling gait that is called the single-foot. This gait replaces the trot – a common gait for many horse breeds. However, Rocky’s single foot is four-beat, while the trot is two-beat.
The single-foot goes at an average speed between the walk and the canter. The extra hoof beat of the horse provides more smoothness to the rider. There’s at least one hoof on the ground while performing the gait. The single-foot allows the equine to go at the speed of 7 miles per hour on rough ground. The breed’s gait keeps more energy to overcome longer distances.
Rocky Mountain Horse Price
The Rocky Mountain Horse costs around $3,000 to $7,000. A registered and certified horse with a great blood line costs $12,000 and more. The price depends on many factors. These include the equine’s age, health, color, horseback riding experience, and more. If you’re willing to get a healthy family pet, a few thousand bucks will be enough.
Kentucky Mountain Horse vs Rocky Mountain Horse
Kentucky Mountain Horses have two size classifications. These are ponies (11 to 13,3 hands tall) and horses (14,2+ hands tall). There’s no predominant body color of the breed. While the Rocky Mountain Horse is 14 to 16 hands tall. And the predominant color is chocolate with flaxen hair.
Kentucky Mountain Horse and Rocky Mountain Horse have a similar history. Both horses exhibit outgoing temperament and surefooted walk. As they are mountain horses, the equines can negotiate rough terrains flawlessly. Such equines are sometimes called Mountain Pleasure Horses.
The Mountain Pleasure Horse Association was formed in 1988. Both Kentucky and Rocky Mountain Horse breeds are allowed to be registered here. However, the community is open only to equines with registered parents.
Rocky Mountain Horse Facts Revealed
The Rocky Mountain Horse is a brilliant choice for beginner and advanced endurance riders. The horse features its easy-going tempo and great breed characteristics. The breed is commonly used in shows and trail riding. The best horse saddle and good saddle pad can be easily found for such a horse.
The population of Rocky Horses is not so big but it’s getting wider. The breed’s associations are working hard to promote such intelligent and good-looking equines.