Breed Profile- Rocky Mountain Horse

The Rocky Mountain Horse is truly a new breed which was developed in the late 19th and early 20th Century, but the breed associations or studbook didn’t come into existance until 1986. The Rocky Mountain Horse clearly exhibits Spanish characteristics, especially in the over all outline and conformation, as well as gait and coloring. It is believed they are related to both the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Saddlebred, which both descended from Spanish horses. Although the origins and history of the breed is a little shadowy until the early 20th Century it is believed that the Rocky Mountain Horse breed originated in the United States in the late 1800s, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains . The people of this region used the breed as a saddle horse as well as on the farm for plowing fields, working cattle and as a buggy horse. Being sure footed and easy gaited the Rockies were the horse of choice of mail carriers, doctors and traveling salesmen. The breed had to survive the harsh winters of eastern Kentucky with minimal shelter, and food. The people of eastern Kentucky weren’t wealthy and couldn’t afford a lot of upkeep for their horses and often fed them “ fodder” ( a kind of rough silage). The ones who survived these extreme conditions lived to reproduce their kind. According to the Rocky Mountain Horse Association (RMHA) there was a gaited colt brought from the Rocky Mountain region of the United States to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky around 1890. People in the region referred to it as "the Rocky Mountain Horse" because of the region of the country it had come from. That stallion is considered the foundation stallion for the Rocky Mountain Horse breed ,even though little is known about this stallion expect for oral accounts that he was chocolate-colored with flaxen mane and tail, and he possessed a superior gait. This stallion was bred to the local saddle mares in a relatively small geographical area . The existence of these horses was practically a secret for many years to all but the inhabitants of this region. Sam Tuttle, a prominent breeder of the Rocky Mountain Horse, is credit ed with the salvation of the breed during the years after the Great Depression and World War II when horse populations were declining. . His stallion Tobe was the primary Rocky Mountain stallion used in Sam's breeding program. In the early 1960’s Sam Tuttle managed the trail riding concession at the Natural Bridge State Park in Powell County, Kentucky and it was here that the public began to see the appeal of the Rocky Mountain Horse because of the stallion Tobe. It is said Tobe could be tied up at a hitching post with mares all day and be a perfect gentleman. Sam loved to show off his beloved stallion and would allow others to ride his stallion (under supervision). Everyone who rode Tobe enjoyed his gentle temperament and comfortable gait. People were always amazed that the well-mannered horse they were riding was, indeed, a breeding stallion.

Tobe quickly became very well known and people began breeding their mares to him, both in the area and outside the area of Kentucky. He passed on his gait, disposition, and other great qualities to his offspring. Tobe sired many fine horses before his death at the old age of thirty-seven. He passed on his longevity as well, many of his offspring were still breeding into their late twenties and early thirties. As a breed the Rocky Mountain horse has great stamina and endurance and are able to travel at 7 to 16 mph over long distances. In appearance they are attractive, with fine intelligent heads and long, graceful necks set to muscular shoulders. The are steep and wide through the chest, have quite low withers, a nicely proportioned back, well-made quarters and strong, tough legs. The shoulders are generally good and account for their free flowing actions. The ideal coat coloring is an unusual and attractive chocolate brown with flaxen mane and tail. They can be any solid color including the much sought after Red Chocolate, as well as buckskin. They stand between 14.2 hands and 16 hands. The Rocky Mountain Horse has become increasingly popular throughout this country and Canada. They are known for their gentle disposition combined with their hardiness. They are suitable for everything from endurance riding to fine carriage.