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Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse

Breed Description:

The Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse of Eastern Kentucky. The Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse, also known as the KNGHA, KY Saddler or Country Saddle Horse, is a naturally gaited breed dating back to the early settlers and Civil War era.

The natural gaited horse epitomizes integrity, honor, grace, dignity, and determination. This breed has maintained these innate standards for over 150 years. The natural gaited horse is a legendary part of the history of Kentucky, especially of the eastern foothills & mountains. This horse has played an integral but often silent part in our state's growth & progression. For example during the Civil War this breed impartially accompanied many KY men into the battlefield and carried those home to their families, that did not survive. From the formation of the railroad to the coal boom era, none would have been possible with out the assistance provided by this breed.

The old mountaineers bred for characteristics & qualities that would assist in simplifying their lives. It is believed that the breed originated from the mixing of different breeds of horses that suited ones own needs. Two characteristics that were of utmost importance were intelligence & surefootedness. This enhanced their calm temperament, & provided for an abundance of stamina & a good instinct for self-preservation. Thusly, depending on what area of Eastern KY one was in would dictate which characteristics appeared to be most dominant. One area would breed for more flashiness or style while another would breed for more color or endurance & so on. Despite what characteristics were valued most, this breed has been able to maintain character & quality through out the years.

For many, the natural gaited horse has been a life-long friend and a part of their heritage. Society today is in an economical position where this horse can be completely admired & enjoyed vs. being used for survival. KNGHA believes this breed has always earned respect within the confines of Eastern KY. However, those outside of these boundaries & communities are being deprived of the wonderful pleasure brought about by the natural gaited horse. Therefore, the KNGHA's goal is to spread the natural gaited horse word to all of those who are interested and may possibly want to be a part of enjoying & preserving this breed.

The KNGHA was formed to preserve the original qualities of the breed of horse that originated in Kentucky in the 1800's. Most notably is the perseverance of a natural four beat gait that is rhythmic and appealing to the eye. The capability of the horse to maintain this gait over numerous miles without wear to the rider spurred popularity that continues today. Other characteristics include a remarkable calm and good-natured disposition, the ability to concisely maneuver in all types of terrain, the overall intelligence of the horse especially in intense frightening situations, and the loyalty it shows to its human counterpart. The Natural Gaited Horse is a loyal friend; a true trail companion and can easily carry to you to your destination. The Natural Gaited Horse is an easy keeper and is glad to see you when you come calling. You can amble down the trail all day and rack into the show ring that evening. Stallions are often trail ridden and shown in the same classes as mares. Most importantly, the Natural Gaited Horse is a horse for the entire family. To the elderly the ride is smooth and easy.

For those new to this horse the limited historical documentation states it is a result of mixing the best of the early gaited breeds of the United States. Preliminary research conducted by the University of Kentucky has verified that the natural gaited horse originated from the same foundation stock as other American gaited horse breeds. Until the University of Kentucky completes research no one can be for certain which breed or breeds mostly influenced the development of the horse we have today.

However, assuming history is correct, by crossing the KY Saddler with Thoroughbreds, Morgans, TWHs, and others produced the product we have today. Thusly being undocumented and truly validated, until the formation of registries and associations. The KNGHA believes that as long as we maintain the standards of expectations and characteristics we have grown to love and respect, preserving this horse will come easy.

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