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Virginia Highlander Horse

Breed Description:

In the 1960's on a farm in Sugar Grove, Virginia, William Pugh had a vision of developing a type of horse. He wanted a good looking, gentle, small and smooth riding horse that would appeal to woman and children. Bill Pugh began with a mare that was 1/2 Arabian and 1/2 Walking Horse; she was bred when he purchased to her, reportedly to a Welsh Pony. The resulting offspring was Pogo, a horse that Pugh thought was exceptional. Pogo was gentle with good action and he could trot and single foot. Pogo became the inspiration for the breed.
Pugh bred Pogo to small mares with good conformation and action, smooth gait and gentle nature. Among the breeds he incorporated to define the Virginia Highlander were the Morgan, American Saddle Bred, Hackney Pony, Welsh, Tennessee Walker, and Arabian. Bill Pugh had a goal of developing a breed of small (13-14 hands), gentle, naturally gaited horses.  He used Arabian blood for "sparkle", Tennessee Walkers for gait, Morgan horses for size and gentle nature, as well as American Saddlebred, Hackney, and Welsh ponies.  As soon as he got a stallion that met his expectations for the breed, the previous stallion was sold.  He also sold any mares and yearlings that he didn't consider "the best". This developed a breed that is heavy through the body, giving them the ability to carry the weight of a man, but gentle, smooth and small enough to appeal to kids and the woman rider. The breed is less than 15 hands in height and have fine heads with wide set eyes of great expression.

Thirty years later, a distinct breed arose and The Virginia Highlander Horse Association was formed, and a registry began with two foundation stallions and twenty foundation mares. The Virginia Highlander is commonly a roan colored horse, but chestnut, black and white horses are found in the breed as well. There are over 50 registered Virginia Highlander Horses registered with the breed registry. The Virginia Highlander Association was established in 1991.

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