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The Rocky Mountain Horse

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.
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Rocky Mountain Horse Associations:

Rocky Mountain Horse Association

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.

The 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

Because 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 chest and sloping, 45-degree shoulder. A natural ambling gait (single-foot or rack) is also mandatory, as is a sweet disposition and ease of handling.

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.

And 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:
Marcia Moreth.

Bottom photo courtesy of:
Nichole Hambelton.

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