Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News
2010 World Equestrian
Games/Expo Issue

Mountain Horses Stepping Up in the Bluegrass

by Brittany Culp

Look into one of the plush pastures in the Bluegrass and youíll most likely find a horse there. Many times it will be a Thoroughbred, sometimes Saddlebreds, other times an old family pet.

But, thereís a specific breed popping up in pastures and barns more and more, shoving the ever-popular Quarter Horse out of the barn: the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse. Known for their smooth gaits, various coloring and gentle personalities, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is coming and staying for good it seems. Though nothing is wrong with the Quarter Horse breed by any means, itís losing its favor in the Horse Capital of the World.

According to Tracey Burchell, owner and founder of Blue Moon Horse Farm in Nicholasville (KY), this is a major reason why people have looked to buy Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses as opposed to Quarter Horses.

"The (Kentucky Mountain Saddle) Horses as a breed are very easy going and easy keeping," she said. "They donít require near as much money to keep around as other breeds and are as inexpensive as they are versatile."

Burchell sells her horses to many different buyers, ranging from parents of small children teaching their child how to ride, to retirees, world-level showmen and women, and those who have a passion for trail riding.

Shows with classes for Quarter Horse disciplines have always been few and far between in Kentucky but are becoming even scarcer these days. It seems the need for Quarter Horses in Kentucky isnít here as much as it used to be.

Since the close of the last U.S. horse slaughterhouse in 2007, horse prices have gone through the floor, making it hard for horse contractors and sellers to make a profit. The loss of the horse slaughterhouses has left an abundance of horses in the U.S. with nowhere to go.

Pocketbooks have been affected greatly by this and the stock market crash, making it more and more necessary to keep a tight rein on the purse strings. With any animal, expenses add up ó even more so when theyíre large and require lots of care, space and feed. Having a horse as a pet or for fun is a hardship for many, and those who sell or show their horses are finding the cost is outweighing the gains, especially financially.

On the other end of the spectrum, Scott Taylor, co-owner and foreman of his Quarter Horse farm in Wilmore, has seen and felt the drawbacks in the industry, all the way up to the world level he shows on. "Itís especially hard to sell any horse since the close of the kill pens. I think you need the pens to maintain a price in the horse market," he said.

Taylor also gave his reasoning why he believes Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses are more prominent here: "Where we are is included in the heart of the gaited-horse territory, which makes it even harder to sell Quarter Horses. Gaited horses are easier to get along with than Quarters, and after someone gets on a Quarter Horse at a jog and gets the stuffing jarred out of them, they go right back to the smooth, easy gaits the mountain horses are known for."

This article appeared in the Jessamine Journal, June, 2010.