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About American Saddlebreds

Bennett Farms specializes in the American Saddlebred, a versatile and lovable breed that excels in the show ring.  A popular breed in Kentucky, Bennett Farms brings the grace and style of the Saddlebred to California.

What are American Saddlebreds?

Originally bred in the United States in the 1800s, American Saddlebreds are a horse breed that is characterized most by tall, arched necks, alert ears, and powerful high stepping action.  Saddlebreds are medium-sized horses, averaging 16 to 17 hands (60 to 64 inches tall at the withers) and weighing about 900 to 1,000 pounds, but they are giants in the show ring.  Nicknamed "the peacock of the show ring," the elegant proportions, impressive athleticism, versatility, and enthusiasm of the American Saddlebred make this breed one like no other.  In 2013 the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) described the American Saddlebred as a breed that "carries himself with an attitude that is elusive of description—some call it "class", presence, quality, style, or charm. This superior air distinguishes his every movement."  There are an estimated 75,000 living American Saddlebred horses in the United States.

What Can Saddlebreds Do?

Saddlebreds are an animated and brave breed that can do it all!  Their exciting energy, upright necks, and high steps make them perfect for Saddle Seat, an English discipline that was developed to show off the high action of the horse.  Their alert ears and smooth motion make them great Western horses, a discipline that, like the Saddlebred, was developed here in the United States.  The Saddlebred's beautiful proportions make wonderful displays as driving horses.  Bennett Farms offers lessons in all of these disciplines, and specializes in bringing the best that the breed has to offer into the show ring.   


Saddlebred Gaits

Gaits are patterns of leg movement that equestrians use to describe a horse's motion. Saddlebreds, like all breeds, have three natural gaits:

  1. Walk - a four-beat gait where each leg strikes the ground at a different moment

  2. Trot - a quicker two-beat gait where the diagonal pairs of legs strike the ground at the same moment

  3. Canter - a fast three-beat gait where a hind leg, diagonal pair of legs, and front leg strike the ground at different moments

  * Gallop is the fastest natural four-beat gait but is not used in the show ring so does not count towards the gaits for Saddlebreds

Some Saddlebreds are capable of two additional "ambling" gaits:

  4. Slow Gait - a four-beat gait where the lateral pairs of legs leave the ground together, but strike the ground at different moments

  5. Rack - a fast-paced animated four-beat gait where each leg strikes the ground at equal intervals

Saddlebreds can be "Three-Gaited" or "Five-Gaited" based on which gaits they perform.  There's nothing like seeing a Five-Gaited class at the rack when the horses wizz around the show ring at astounding speeds! This amazing range of motion helps make the American Saddlebred such an eye-catching show horse. 


Saddlebreds in Hollywood

Since Bennett Farms is located in Burbank so close to film studios like Warner Brothers, Disney, and Universal Studios, we would be missing out by omitting the history of Saddlebreds on the silver screen.  Chances are you've seen a Saddlebred in your very own living room and didn't know it!  Remember Mr. Ed?  That famous palomino was actually a part-Saddlebred.  The classic Elizabeth Taylor movie "National Velvet" starred a Saddlebred, as did the 1943 "My Friend Flicka," and the 1956 "Giant."  Popular screen horses during the Golden Age of Hollywood, many celebrities like Clark Gable, Will Rogers, and Joe Louis personally owned Saddlebreds too.

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