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"Rocky Mountain Horses" was printed in Hardcover and Paperback (Softcover) versions. Only 250 Hardcover books were printed as Special Limited Editions. These have become Collector's Copies, as all of them were individually stamped, numbered, and signed by the author as well as the founder of the RMHA.




******The following excerpts come from various chapters throughout the book and are partial samplings of the content therein. "Rocky Mountain Horses" is considered a complete digest on the breed. It contains over 450 pages with over 250 color photographs, and 13 illustrations including a gait illustration, historical timeline and site map, lineage charts, and ASD chart.



............... The breed is defined as having a medium height, a broad chest, an ambling four-beat gait, a gentle temperament, and a solid body color. A Rocky Mountain Horse is often affectionately referred to, and known as, a "Rocky". For those who know Rockies, the first color that comes to mind is chocolate with a flaxen mane and tail. This unusual color is in high demand among owners and prospective owners alike. The silver dapple gene responsible for this color is rare in many other breeds, but is highly prevalent in the Rocky Mountain Horse breed.

All breeds of horses have several gaits. Most Rocky Mountain Horses are capable of doing the same basic gaits as non-gaited breeds, such as the walk, trot, canter, and gallop. However, because of generations of selective breeding, Rockies also possess a natural and inherited ability to do a four-beat gait. Because a Rocky has at least one or more hoofs on the ground at all times during the execution of its gait, with no moment of suspension of all four hoofs, the rider is held steady in the saddle as opposed to the up and down jarring motion of a two-beat trot.

When surveyed, owners said the disposition was what they liked best about their Rocky Mountain Horses. One must remember, all horses are animals and will exhibit individual animal behavior. However, the ratio of good dispositions to bad is exceptionally high in the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. 

Rocky Mountain Horses accentuate the pleasure in pleasure riding. They show their willingness to please most noticeably on the trail where they are seen jumping ditches and climbing steep terrain with sure-footed ease. Their tractable, less-reactive nature makes for a less spooky horse on the trail. 



.................. The history of the Rocky Mountain Horse from 1890 to the latter part of the 1900s carries little or no documentation and few facts that can be proven beyond the shadow of doubt. Everyone who personally witnessed the breed's beginnings (back to the 1800s) is deceased, and we have been left with only verbal history passed down from generation to generation. Thus, all that can recorded at this point in time are the stories recollected by living descendants. 

The Rocky Mountian Horse breed originated in the United States in the late 1800s, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky, During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the rural inhabitants of eastern Kentucky considered these saddle horses to be horses for all seasons. They were sure-footed, easy-gaited, and the mount of choice for postmen, doctors, and traveling preachers. People used them for plowing small fields, herding cattle, traveling through the steep and rugged trails, and driving the buggy to church on Sunday.

The Rocky Mountain Horse Association (RMHA) states the history of the breed originates with a gaited stud colt brought from the Rocky Mountain region of the United States to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky around 1890. He was referred to as "the Rocky Mountain Horse" by the local Kentucky people because of the area of the country from which he had come. He is the horse credited for the start of the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. Little is know about this foundation stallion, but oral history indicated he was chocolate-colored with a flaxen mane and tail, and he possessed a superior gait. He was bred to the local Appalachian saddle mares in a relatively small geographical area and the basic characteristics of a strong genetic line continued. This prized line of horses increased in numbers as years went by, and these are the horses known today as Rocky Mountain Horses.

Sam Tuttle of Spout Springs, Kentucky was the most prominent breeder of Rocky Mountain Horses for the first three quarters of the twentieth century. He kept a sizable herd of thirty to forty horses on his farm, and he is considered as the man most responsible for the survival of the breed. TOBE was the primary stallion used in Sam's breeding program. In the early 1960s, Sam Tuttle managed the trail riding concession at the Natural Bridge State Park in Powell County, Kentucky. Everyone who rode TOBE enjoyed his comfortable gait and fell in love with his gentle temperament. It amazed people to think the well-mannered horse they were riding was indeed a breeding stallion. 



......................To a novice, The Rocky Mountain Horse, The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, and The Mountain Pleasure Horse, all appear to be similar. In fact, a single horse can actually be registered as all three breeds!. This sometimes confuses newcomers to the mountain horse world because with other breeds such as Arabian, Quarter, or Morgan, it is impossible for a single horse to be registered as all three breeds. Basically, some of the same Appalachian horses used to establish the Rocky Mountain Horse were used to establish the Mountain Pleasure Horse and Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse registries, as well as other new registries. Their basic traits are similar because they were derived from similar ancestors. The horses of these registries are all gaited, have calm dispositions, and a similar type of conformation as per the breed standards of each registry. Due to this similarity, some people have now begun to refer to the breeds derived from this Appalachian ancestry as mountain horse breeds. 

The Rocky Mountain Horse Association (RMHA) was established as a direct result of the efforts of Rea Swan of Lexington, Kentucky. More detailed information on this dedicated and ambitious woman is contained in CHAPTER 3 (INTERVIEWS, FOLKLORE, and LEGENDS).

From its small beginnings, the RMHA has developed into a thriving organization with over twelve thousand registered horses as of 2004. The RMHA Headquarters Office is a primary source of Rocky Mountain Horse information, assisting members with registration, certification, DNA processing, and offering merchandise for sale such as demonstration videotapes and stallion directories.

One of the ways the RMHA controls selective breeding is through its certification process. The Rocky Mountain Horse is one of the few American breeds that require certification before breeding to produce offspring eligible for registration. This concept is unique and serves the purpose of culling any undesired variables in the foundation stock, which in turn achieves true breed uniformity. It is this certification requirement that allows the breed to be issued a certification mark by the U.S. Patent Office. Consequently, only a horse that is registered and has met RMHA breed standards can be known by the name "Rocky Mountain Horse".



PRELIMINARY DECISIONS................  Before you begin the search for your dream Rocky, a few basic decisions need to be made. First, think about the purpose for buying a Rocky, whether it is for riding, driving, showing, breeding, or something else. Knowing what purpose the horse will serve saves time and money in narrowing down prospects. For instance, if someone is interested in purchasing a Rocky for a nine-year-old child to ride in the backyard, then they need not spend the time or money looking at champion show stock or breeding stock. On the other hand, if breeding is what a Rocky will be used for, then it is important to be aware of the role ASD can play in choosing a chocolate-colored mare to breed to a chocolate-colored stallion and vice versa, and select colors based on responsible breeding practices (refer to CHAPTER 6). Be prepared to pay slightly more for chocolate-colored and black-colored Rockies. It depends on the current market, but at this point in time those colors are in high demand. The chocolate color is unique and usually sells quickly. Black, as well as chocolate, is in demand for breeding stock.


TEST RIDES..................... For the novice Rocky enthusiast, the best advice is to take your time before acquiring a Rocky. It is an important decision, so remember not to "act in haste" or you may "regret in leisure". Getting some hands-on experience with these horses before buying will prove to be a most valuable endeavor.


SOURCES........................Another inportant and useful source of Rocky Mountain Horse sales is a Rocky Mountain Horse Show. Although the largest show is the International RMHA Show in Kentucky, there are also regional ones held throughout the United States. Attending these shows enables you to see the horses, watch them perform, meet the owners and breeders, and do some networking to locate just the right Rocky. More information on Rocky Mountain Horse Shows is contained in CHAPTER 7. Besides horse shows, breed fairs, expos, and some state fairs are becoming ideal places to locate sources for acquiring Rockies.


DECISION TO PURCHASE...............My purpose in writing this section is to provide novice Rocky enthusiasts the information most often needed and desired. To define what is meant by "novice" Rocky enthusiast, it is someone who is new to the breed, but not necessarily new to horses. It is not my intent to educate first-time horse owners on the basics of buying a horse, as that would be a subject for a different book. The only aspects of the purchase process presented here are those that pertain specifically to the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. The forthcoming details will be beneficial to someone who has never owned a Rocky before, is new to the breed, or would like to expand their knowledge of pertinent subjects. In my opinion, a true Rocky Mountain Horse is a dream horse. The Rocky that meets breed standards is what I mean by a true Rocky Mountain Horse. It is a horse displaying all of the old-time traits that make the breed distinct from other breeds. It is a horse that has the Rocky temperament, and the Rocky gait, and the Rocky conformation. Any horse falling short of even one of these attributes does not fit my parameters of a true Rocky, and therefore may not be your dream horse.


HANDLING/TRAINING TIPS..............Although this section is not intended as a substitute for hands-on instruction with an experienced horse professional, it does contain a collection of some interesting facts and suggestions on the handling and training of Rocky Mountain Horses. In handling Rockies, it is important to keep in mind they are intelligent, and trusting of humans. If you violate that trust my using training tactics that employ brute force or cause pain, you will replace that special willingness and "can do" attitude that Rockies are famous for with fear and distrust. This will end up being a long-term loss, surely not worth a short-term gain. On the other hand, when patiently shown what is expected, Rockies usually try their best to achieve it.                 ...............Assuming the suggestions outlined so far in this book are followed without exception, the chances of acquiring a Rocky with a serious gaiting problem are slim. However, for those readers who may already own a Rocky prior to reading this book, a few hints to improve its gait have been included. These hints may or may not help, depending on the skill and experience of the rider.                                                            .......Another important concept to remember in training is that whatever gait a Rocky is allowed to do in place of gaiting on cue, will cause the horse to think that is what the rider wants it to do. The more often the horse is allowed to circumvent the correct four-beat gait, the more it gets into the habit of doing just that. In actuality, the rider is teaching the horse not to gait. Eventually, the horse will no longer know any different and be ignorant to the rider's wishes for it to gait. Once the horse gets to this point, correction is difficult. It is time consuming and tedious to undo all the confusion previous repetition has caused.                           .......................My best advice to anyone who feels they need help with training or correcting a problem with their Rocky is to keep trying to find the one method right for you and your horse. Do not give up on your Rocky out of haste or frustration. There is an answer to your problem, and through persistence you will find it. Remember, mistakes are human and everyone has made them (luckily, Rockies have such a forgiving nature). Someday, somehow, somewhere there is a horse that will make a fool out of the best of trainers. The important thing is to see both the humor and the learning experience in everything we do. 


Copyright (c) 2005 Wildfire Enterprises