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The origin of the
Rocky Mountain Horse reads like a folk legend: Around the late
1890's, settlers returning from the West brought back to Virginia,
and eventually Eastern Kentucky, a young stallion of distinctly Spanish
lineage. This stallion was crossed with local mares. One of the offspring
was Old Tobe, the remarkable foundation sire of what was later to
become known as the Rocky Mountain Horse.
Old Tobe was
renowned for his gentleness, versatility and smooth,sure-footed
gaits. Owned by Sam Tuttle, of Sprout Springs, Kentucky, Old
Tobe worked as a dude horse carrying sight-seers over the scenic
and rugged trails of natural Bridge State Park.
Although a treasured breeding stallion until his death at age
37 in 1964, Old Tobe was a favored mount even by the most experienced
riders for his easy
temperament and smooth singlefoot gait. These qualities
were passed down to his get and many of the horses registered today
as Rocky Mountain Horses bear his unmistakable stamp.
Rocky Mountain Horse Association was founded in 1986 to oversee
the practice of the few remaining horses of the lineage at the time.
From a start of only 36 horses registered that year, there are over
3,000 Rocky Mountain Horses on the books today. Although that is
an astounding jump in numbers, the breed is still considered rare.
Inspection required for registration
registering Rocky Mountain Horses is meant to carefully preserve
and maintain the unique and cherished qualities of the breed, each
horse considered for breeding must first pass an inspection. to
qualify they must be between 14.2 and 16 hands tall, with a wide
sloping, 45-degree shoulder. A natural ambling gait (single-foot
or rack) is also mandatory, as is a sweet disposition and ease of
Rocky Mountain Horses must have a solid body color with
no white above the knee or hock, or excessive white markings on
the face. Although the silver dapple, chocolate colored horse with
the near white mane and tail, have become almost synonymous with
the breed, the Rocky Mountain Horse is not a color breed. Other
common colors are chestnut, bay and black.
Other attributes of the
breed are that they are easy keepers, having honed their survival
skills in the early days in the mountains of Kentucky with little
or no shelter, and an admirable level of endurance. They are also
calm, versatile horses as a rule, as strutting their stuff in the
show ring. Traits possibly attributed to that remote early Spanish
ancestor, or perhaps to the demands placed on early horses of the
breed to fulfill all of the farm family's needs -- from a plow horse,
to a buggy horse to a fine ride to town on a Saturday night.
it seems that these wonderful traits are meant to last, since Rocky
Mountain Horses can be extremely long-lived -- as Old Tobe's career
attests -- another trait he passed on to his get. In fact, as of
this writing, there are several sons of Old Tobe still living!
Top and middle photos courtesy of:
Bottom photo courtesy of:
To find out more about the Rocky Mountain Horse contact:
RMHA National Headquarters
P.O. Box 129, Mt. Olivet, KY 41064
Phone: (606) 724-2354