The National Spotted Saddle Horse Association (NSSHA) was formed in 1979 with headquarters located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The Association is dedicated to establishing a uniform breed saddle horse that is naturally gaited and performs without the use of punishing training aids or substances. While presenting a natural gaited saddle horse, the National Spotted Saddle Horse exhibits “coats of many colors.” A more beautiful or useful animal cannot be found.
The Spotted Saddle Horse originated in middle Tennessee. Spanish American type spotted ponies, prized for their gentle disposition and attractive color and markings, were crossed with other established gaited breeds, mainly Tennessee Walking Horses, to produce a natural gaited riding horse that was large enough for adult riders, with longer legs, bodies and necks; yet still retaining the gentleness and charm of the spotted pony.
The original purpose of the Spotted Saddle Horse was intended as a family riding horse, used for general pleasure and trail riding. The Spotted Saddle Horse is now being found in the show ring, in a variation of classes from Halter Classes for colts, Novice & Amateur classes, Driving classes, Youth classes, Age Division classes and the always exciting Stake classes. The Spotted Saddle Horse is appearing at Bird Dog Field Trials throughout the southern states, and is fast becoming a requested mount for such sporting events.
The breed registry has grown by leaps and bounds, with a steady increase each year of numbers of new horses being registered. The National Spotted Saddle Horse has increased steadily in popularity as more and more adult riders are finding they can have a full-sized horse with all the qualities they so admired in the spotted ponies they had as children. Until the formation of the National Spotted Saddle Horse Association as a breed registry, many excellent spotted horses were virtually ignored as they were under 15 hands, and considered youth horses, not fit mounts for adults. Small horses of this type now form a part of the NSSHA registry where their excellent qualities are preserved in a new breed.
As the breed is in its formative years, with the breeding activities carried on by a number of different breeders, there is some variation in the breed. However, due to the predominant influence of the Tennessee Walking Horse in the breed, the Spotted Saddle Horse more closely resembles a heavier T.W.H. than any other breed. Some breeders are crossing with Missouri Fox Trotters and with Racking Horses. In reality, this is less odd than it may seem, as all these breeds share a common heritage, the old Tennessee Pacer, the original T.W.H. Some horses show more of the spotted pony type, with heavier heads, legs and shorter necks. The NSSHA is trying to remedy this by breeding for a larger horse, with a longer, finer neck and legs, yet still retaining the true spotted color and gentle disposition of the pony.
Spot B. SHF-4