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Horse Breeds
First Posted July 6, 2009
Sep 24, 2010

Mountain Pleasure Horse

3-D Flags
Country of Origin: United States of America


The Mountain Pleasure horse has been relatively unchanged for a century or more. It reflects the primitive Appalachian gaited horse type and may be ancestral to modern breeds developed in the region during the late 1800's and early 1900's, including the American Saddlebred and the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Physical Description

As a landrace, the Mountain Pleasure is variable in type, with some horses having distinctively Spanish features and others resembling the larger, modern breeds. Consistent among all is a smooth four-beat gait that replaces the trot. The horses stand 14.2-15.2 hands at the withers and weigh 850-950 pounds. Most of the solid colors known in horses occur in the breed, including grays and roans.


The limestone plateau west of the Appalachian Mountains of the United States has long been known as horse country. Horse breeding has been an important economic enterprise, and horses have been used for riding, agricultural work, and pulling a variety of vehicles. They had to be easy keepers, rugged, sure-footed, and willing. Kentucky was also important because of its central location, where Spanish horses from the Southeast and Southwest could easily be crossed with English and European horses from the East.

History suggests that Spanish horses likely contributed the "gaited" characteristic found in many of the breeds developed in this region. Gaited horses are those which naturally have gaits other than (or in addition to) the walk, trot, and canter of all horses; they may include the rack, single foot, and running walk. These gaits are more comfortable for the rider than the trot.

Interesting Facts

Mountain Pleasure horses are prized for their calm temperament, and the breed is best suited to be a family pleasure horse rather than a high powered show animal. The most famous Mountain Pleasure horse, however, was Roy Rogers' original Trigger. Since Trigger did not trot, he was always filmed at a walk or a canter.

1. Spanish 2. English

What are the Differences: Mountain Pleasure, Rocky Mountain, and Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses?

The Mountain Pleasure Horse Association Explains "What is the Difference?"
Our goal is first to preserve the bloodlines of the Mountain Pleasure Horse, then to build the population of Mountain Pleasure Horses. We issue registration papers not to sell these horses, but to certify they meet the stringent criteria of the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association (MPHA) and to encourage the breeding of Mountain Pleasure Horses.

Those are our goals and so we do not consider ourselves to be in "competition"with any other gaited horse breed. However, some of our horses are double registered with the Rocky Mountain Horse Association (RMHA), and many are double registered with the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association (KMSHA), so naturally, we are asked the difference between the Mountain Pleasure Horse and these other associations.

Rocky Mountain Difference

Quite simply, the Mountain Pleasure Horse breed existed some 100 years before the existence of the Rocky Mountain Horse. In fact, Kentucky governor Brereton Jones, in September of 1994 recognized in his official proclamation:

"The Horsemen of Eastern Kentucky developed a type of horse, known as the Mountain Pleasure Horse, to be smooth of gait, gentle of disposition, willing to work and sure-footed as necessary for mountain terrain; and this Mountain Pleasure Horse has been carefully and closely bred for over 160 traceable years along the original Kentucky mountain bloodlines; Blood typing research by the University of Kentucky has shown the Mountain Pleasure Horse to be the parent stock of American gaited horse breeds," including the Rocky Mountain Horse and Tennessee Walking Horse. On the other hand, some 40 to 45 years ago, Sam Tuttle tapped into the Mountain Horse Heritage, crossing the native Mountain Pleasure stock with Tobe, a stallion carrying an unusual chocolate color, and his descendants, spawning (eventually) the Rocky Mountain Horse Association breed registry.

The key difference between the two registries is genetic foundation. Fewer than 17 percent of the foundation horses of the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association carry any trace of the "Tobe" bloodline.

In the MPHA, color is not a criteria of quality. In the RMHA, the chocolate color is generally preferred. Besides the chocolate color there are, to those who study closely, various physical characteristics and slight variations in gait among horses descended from Tobe bloodlines that generally are not present in the Mountain Pleasure Horses.

The MPHA registration books are now closed and only offspring of a registered stallion and a registered mare can be submitted for registration. We have no provisions for "grade mares." The MPHA registration process requires that all horses submitted for permanent registration be videotaped demonstrating gait and the Board of Directors of the MPHA must approve each horse. The MPHA requires that all its horses be blood typed by the University of Kentucky for absolute identification of parentage before papers are issued.

Generally speaking, our horses tend to be a bit larger (taller), longer bodied and cover more ground with their gait than the horses from the Tobe/Tuttle bloodlines.

We are proud of the Mountain Pleasure Horse genetic heritage that helped produce the horses of the To be Tobe/Tuttle bloodlines. We realize that some people may prefer the results and color of the Tobe/Tuttle influenced horse. But for those who want the old-fashioned smooth ride and wonderful disposition of over 150 years of Kentucky heritage, backed by the integrity of blood typing and stringent scrutiny by the MPHA breed registry, we offer the Mountain Pleasure Horse.

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Difference

Horses registered in the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association are often referred to as Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses. Several gaited breeds of horses are included in the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association's registry, the Mountain Pleasure Horse being one of them. Whereas, the Mountain Pleasure Horse and the Rocky Mountain Horse are "breeds" of horses, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse normally refers to the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association registry. As mentioned at the top of this page, many horses registered with the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association are also doubled registered with the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association.

Thank you to The Mountain Pleasure Horse Association for graciously allowing the use of their material on this web site.

For More Information:

Mountain Pleasure Horse Association
Mountain Pleasure Horse
Breeding Listing Registry
Pleasure Saddle Horse Registry
Mountain Pleasure Horse Breed Standard
Listed as "Critical" byThe American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (2004)


Permission given by my dear friend, Cowboy Frank, to use his breeds section.
Oklahoma State University list of livestock breeds

Horse Breeds